In a previous rant, I pondered pondering, and I questioned the motives of our motivations. Clearly a potential for confusion. My wife often described my thoughts as “circling”, all well and good if I take the time, or I have the time, to get around back to the beginning… to tie up loose ends. Not always the case.
The more I think of it, I think the better metaphor for my process is a möbius loop, ends brought back together, but perhaps flipped, until it only has one side… mine! Circling yes, but twisted. Besides, the whole “circling” metaphor causes me to think of vultures above a super heated desert. Not a very appealing summary of how my thoughts are organized.
A friend suggested that I had tackled far too much in the rant. That I wrote about motivation, technology, fear, and the basic social aspects of humanity. That is a lot for a blogspot.
That sounds nearly correct though, and considering that I have no expertise beyond my own experiences, those are perfect topics to ponder and rant about. The lack of facts has never stopped me from having an opinion.
In addition, it makes perfect sense to lump them all together in a half dozen paragraphs. I once wrote a two page paper on the causes of World War II. I was twelve.
My friend thought I might write about the changes that I have seen from my early college years to now, in the hopes that I might come to some conclusions about these issues. Perhaps he has a point, but why start at college.
I was a child in the golden Fifties, born in 1949, I experienced almost the entire decade as a sensate being with defined thoughts. It really was a remarkable time. A terrible war had ended, another had started but it failed to set fire to the world, it remained a bloody police action. (Interesting that I would later end my youth at the DMZ of that cold frozen land.)
As a child we were fascinated with television and the four channels of news and entertainment. I remember if I got up too early I had to watch the test pattern until the station woke up. And then, later that night, if I stayed up too late the channel would play the Star Spangled Banner, complete with a waving flag, and then the test pattern would reappear. A circle with thin patterns of lines in pie slice shapes, with an Indian chief in headdress superimposed in the center.
I would watch the Indian for a few minutes and then the final ritual of turning off the power and watching the whole image immediately shrink to a white dot about the size of a quarter, and then for the next five or ten minutes the white dot would shrink further and further, sucking the entire day’s images into the greenish black hole of the thick glass tube. Then I would go to sleep.
This must have some deeper meaning because it is such a powerful memory lasting almost 60 years. Premonitions of death, or the loss of consciousness? Hmmm.
Yet, as transfixing as television was, we still managed to be outside at 7:30 am in the summer, and play all day with quick food breaks, until somewhat after the sun went down. Curious.
The Sixties were the time that I grew to manhood, hopeful, optimistic, and idealistic. There might not be a more idealistic generation in the entire history of the world. The culture surrounded me. The books and music filled my consciousness. And social concerns became very important.
I spent the first three years of the Seventies in uniform. Cocooned from the collapse of my generation, perhaps the collapse of ideals, and certainly the collapse of the experiment in drugs. The rest of the Seventies I tried to rebuild my world, but it ended in several divorces with no clear direction. I began the Eighties with one last try in marriage, parenting, a career and a plan for the future. There were a few bumps but the next thirty years brings me to retirement and the ability to look back and ponder a few things.
My father’s life had two world wars, Vietnam, and several police actions. He remembered when the first automobile showed up, scaring the horses pulling wagons. His four channels on television showed the astronauts landing on the moon, and soon after the forests of antenna on roofs disappeared and had evolved to world wide cable. It was a wide range of experiences.
I can remember that we had an icebox with deliverers twice weekly. A refrigerator was amazing. Wash and dry required running clothes through rollers and hanging them out in the yard. All the technology changes seemed to make things easier, but in some way it made things more complex.
I could repair my car, I could even test the tubes in my TV set. Now I look under the hood and I can barely define the parts. As far a repairing the TV? Nope, we depose of it. Better for the economy to buy a new one, not the best for the environment, but that’s not the point.
Does my life have the same range as my father’s? After all, I shared about half of his experiences. Has the development since his death been so remarkable? As powerful as horses being replaced by cars?
I suppose we would all like to think that each generation improves upon the next. The development of medicine is a good example. But is it also possible that some specific skills are lost, because easier ways have replaced hard fought knowledge. And what have we done with the savings in time? Created 600 channels of entertainment? Couches with built in refrigerators to save time for that next snack. For lack of reality we create reality shows, pointing out our desire to live vicariously.
It’s very hard to generalize because so much good is happening at the same time of so much bad.
Okay, the best summary I can muster is that we might be a little smarter, but we are also a little weaker. We know technology but we can’t make fire. And worst of all we think we don’t have to know how to make fire.
That could be bad!