Thursday, December 05, 2002

Friend Athos sent me a comic and it managed, as do many things on the internet, to drag me from my work for a few moments -- long enough for me to write this blog entry. The internet is such a phenomenon, radical, yet recognizable; we have tv, on which you can channel surf for hours on end meaninglessly; we have the paper, where you can read all kinds of articles which may or may not pertain to you, depending on how much time you have in your day for the activity in question; we even have libraries and bookstores in which a person may pore over thousands of tomes and volumes of information that is only tangentially related to him or her. But the internet is a phenomenon of it's own, something to which we have a draw, like the subconscious, something to which no one will admit, yet to which all subscribe: You know of what I speak -- the times you plan on just checking your email, but end up playing those Flash games, or you want to look up information on a movie and end up reading criticism of government health policies worldwide. You see, that's just the draw of it; it's so large and yet so immediately accessible. If technology has increased our capacity to accomplish tasks in a more speedy manner, it has also increased out ability to waste time more effectively, so to speak. Like my blog about torri gates (below) -- at no point in history before the past two decades would a man be able to develop a philosophical position on the placement of torri gates in public and personally styled Japanese gardens without some sort of prior knowledge of eastern horticulture and religious symbolism -- all in 15 minutes.
I'm always eager to find out what people read on the net. Some only stop at news sites and checking email. To me that's like going to the grocery store and picking up bread and milk (which you can actually do on the internet now) -- the bare necessities. But in my Freshman year of college, I was introduced to a new kind of internet browsing by my roommate, inspired in my life by There was a little scrolling ticker you could place on your screen and as you watched it would parade random websites and searches before you, search requests which were sent in by people, mind you, and were therefore sometimes questionable. Even so, I was always fascinated, sometimes only morbidly so, at how much gunk is out there -- I don't know how many pop bands popped up and clothing sites swirled by, but there was a lot between them as well, random things which I cannot even duplicate in my mind now. Even with all the websites about topics like ancient druid rites and varieties of antarctic wildlife, people were still looking up the same stuff that was in the news, on tv and in libraries. So I resolved to use my time, made much more effective by high speed connections and hands trained by years of typing papers, to look up information that I generally wouldn't find elsewhere, or at least would not know where to locate. Afterall, if you can waste your time in the grocery store line reading the "info" in the tabloids, or in a bookstore browsing easily on the same topic, why spend such valuable time as ten minute breaks (only ten minutes!) on reading the same stuff?
I will not waste your technologically enhanced break time with the details of the outcome in my years as a websurfer, but the overall result has been a refreshing outlook on the world. All those generations trapped in the microcosm of subculture and geographical boundaries -- it would be a shame, I think, to set down the opportunity to access the mind of the global village for the sake of keeping a tight grip on myopia.
Of course, maybe that's what Adam thought before he bit into the knowledge of good and evil - a bite we've been trying to chew since then and will likely never swallow; if that's the case, then such wanderings into the dark corners of the electronic subcurrent of reality are written on our genes and we're merely keeping up a tradition as old as the origin of our species.
God bless technology. And thanks for the comic, Jeff.

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Well, went to Oregon for Thanksgiving and visited with my old roommate and his family. It was a friend of mine and I driving up there from So Cal. (So Cal sounds so commercial, like one of those generic supermarket brands. Ick)
Oregon is a different place. In Oregon the fog hangs onto the trees like spiderwebs over a dark corner in a house, or an old man's wispy beard, unperturbed by sunshine or wind. The road out of northern California twisted up and down, past the far off and mysterious Mt Shasta. We were driving through that area going up at about 5:30 AM, so the mountain's shadow appeared to us like a phantom. In fact, at first I thought I was hallucinating. Finally, as we drew closer, its snowcapped peak loomed on the horizon, like the pillar of God's presence over the sleeping landscape.
Further into Oregon, the sunrise refused to come. Six o'clock, six fifteen. Jeff said, "We're pilgrims in an unholy land."
I laughed.
In Oregon I think my beard grew faster. Perhaps it was the wind, or that mountain man feeling when you can walk on occasion through trees and grass that aren't plotted by the city council. All I wanted to do was trounce around in hiking boots or sit in a park and read. TV sounded boring. I liked that.
While I was up there I read Melville's Bartleby. It's somewhat a disgruntling tale to me. That character standing there like some stubborn ghost, refusing to leave, refusing to work, refusing to do anything, even move or take money, simply on the basis of preference. Yet annoying as he seemed, I could not help but gawk at his bravery in jealousy. There are times that I long to do the same. I think that's the biggest draw of the story. Green eyed laziness.
I wanted to ride a horse up while I was up there. Funny thing is, we really didn't spend all that much time in the country side. It was just the knowledge of that presence; the river flowing through Portland under the bridges as if the very city was built from the bones and blood of a sleeping giant. We visited my old roommate's cousin's house and they had quite a few horses. The cousin simply refused to believe that I really wanted to ride a horse. Said it was the romance of the idea. "Everyone says they want to ride a horse, but no one really knows what they're in for. No one really knows..."
I've wanted to ride a horse since I was a young boy, but the smirk on horse cousin's face repelled me from the idea of riding one of their horses, even when the offer was placed before me willingly. Maybe next time. I'd rather not have an experience tainted by the rusty cynicism of superiority. Okay, maybe that was a bit harsh.