Friday, 30 October 2009

One thing leads to another

A banal observation concerned with what is for us, everyday and obvious. I make it as I want to remind myself, if you change perspective, how miraculous aspects of contemporary life are.

In our sitting room there is:

- a phone with which, immediately and without intermediation, I can speak to anyone I know anywhere in the world, along with an uncountable number of other people;

- a tv with dozens of tv channels, on which I can also watch almost anything broadcast in the last week as well as a stack of other stored programmes and films;

- a dvd player and a pile of dvds allowing me to watch what must be now hundreds of hours of films (a library put together imperceptibly and in an ongoing absence of mind);

- a cd player and a pile of cds allowing me to listen to hundreds of hours... (see above);

- a laptop with which I can make written communication with anyone who also has a computer and access to the web and with which I can read books, documents, newspapers, etc. sufficient to fill many times over the biggest libraries in the world. I can do my shopping and banking with it too. And get more music, tv and films. Also I can self-publish on it, just like this;

- lots of good, old fashioned books too, along with a pile of current newspapers and magazines.

All in an ordinary sitting room in an ordinary house occupied by people not particularly interested in technology. Take a step back and boggle.

Can you imagine what response you'd get if you told someone from fifty years ago, who you'd invited for a tour of that room, that you were bored? Yet occasionally we still are. Why? Is there anything we could possibly invent that would end boredom?

Our desire for adventure, change, flux seems insatiable. This is also surely why we find it difficult ever to be truly contented. We're inventive little creatures but incurably restless and with what seems to be an ineradicable urge to be strangers to ourselves.


worm said...

If only I had a termite mound and a stick in my sitting room, life would be sweet

Gaw said...

You may jest, but I suspect only half way. Isn't this the conclusion of the wise?

Brit said...

Yes, we're insatiable. It doesn't matter, for example, how many DVDs you have - when in the wrong mood you will still look through them all and not want to watch any of them.

Ultimately we can become bored of ourselves. This is a big argument against immortality.

Gaw said...

Ultimately we become bored of ourselves.

That's what I've concluded. I think most forms of distracting entertainment are forms of self-estrangement, sex and drugs being perhaps the most successful at this (the petit mort is well-named). Winning the 'war on drugs' has as much chance of success as winning a war on boredom.

Why don't we want to be ourselves so often and so powerfully? I suppose consciousness is quite hard work.

Sean said...

Give Sex a try, you know that thing you used to do before children and was obsessed with before marriage.

One on One with another real human being, always a winner with me.

Gaw said...

Enough, Sean! Thank God you stopped were beginning to channel Barry White.

Sean said...

Sorry, I was just thinking as I read your post, "this boy is not getting enough"

Not a big Barry fan myself, Marvin is more my cup of tea,

But what about the fun lovin criminals?

Gaw said...

That song's a cracker. I'm still recuperating so it's a case of one step at a time!

worm said...

the flip side of this is those people who move to remote islands

I definately draw parallels with your post Gaw, I can't help endlessly flitting from one thing to the next. I often bore myself and end up having ridiculously expensive baccanalian weekends just to punish myself for having been so boring, which, if you think about it in an existential way, is quite weird.

Gaw said...

It's a funny old thing and, the more I think about it, one of the keys to understanding human beings. Happiness and progress are two large concerns that seem closely linked to the issue of boredom and restlessness.

We need a team of top researchers to investigate this. Perhaps it will result in another book to join the one on islophilia? Or are they actually a single book? People presumably move to islands to escape and then are probably disconcerted that what they thought they were escaping wasn't there it was themselves, which, of course, was brought along with them.

Anonymous said...

I often think of the typical modern bright, hardly known to his neighbours, childless or nearly so, sitting alone in his study in his oversized house, compulsively changing channels with no satisfaction, listening to CD's under earphones and then taking out his laptap to post a comment on a blog that begins: "Man, of course, is a social animal".

Gaw said...

Peter: the 'childless or nearly so' is nicely put. I know exactly what you mean.

I suspect your bright one hundred years ago would have been writing about how he felt solidarity with the People.

The lonely nerdiness of online social networks seems to have fallen away somewhat, according to my observations anyway. T uses Facebook a lot, partly for work as she's a journo, and it seems to have transitioned from being a substitute for normal social interaction to being a seamless part of it.

worm said...

Gaw, I thought 'islands of the mind' would be a good title....unti I just discovered that some toerag already nabbed it, and used on his book about islophilia :(

there must be some way of burning every single copy of his book?

Gaw said...

The only option is to write about islophilia through your own experience of spending one month at a time on different islands for a year. Could be a bit disruptive to your life, bank balance and relationships however. I'd love to see the contrast between Ibiza and Jura - but I bet they have more commonalities than one would first assume. Ah, Ibiza...I might pop over for a weekend!

worm said...

yes the club scene is Jura is pretty wild I hear