Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's old-fashioned?

Driving home quite a bit after sunset this evening I noticed a house whose front windows were lit with a warm cozy glow. It ocurred to me as I was cruising along listening to Chuck Berry's version of 'Route 66' that the reason it was a cozy glow was because it was from an old-fashioned (energy-sucking) incandescent bulb in a fabric shade.

I'm serious.

The light coming from the front window of this house was not the blue light of a 52-inch telly or an artifically white CFL in a frosted glass torchiere.

And it made me wonder what BooBoo and other under-twelves will think of as cozy when they grow up. Will faintly blue LEDs take-over and will they look upon offices with artificially crisp fluorescent tube lights as quaintly old-fashioned? Will textiles evolve (please) in such a way that polyester 'fleece' will become an artifact? How long will it take for the latest cycle of giant bulky cameras to drop off in popularity in favor of a return to Leica-lensed point-n-shoots like my little Panasonic. Will macrame ever be en vogue again?

It's one of the hazards of having lived through a goodly bit of the 20th century, I think. So much has changed in such a short time that it occasionally sends my head swimming with great wonder about what we have that may be taken for granted, glorified (even if it's not that great) or simply lost forever. After a few minutes of this my brain starts to feel like the buffers in a pinball machine (to drop the swimming analogy) that have been bombarded for a few moments too long. Especially when I start to worry about what things of value may be lost. Something as simple as a Berenstain Bears eBook makes me shudder. Will a story be as valuable if you don't have a tactile sense of your progression from beginning to end? How will they see their place in life if the trend towards 'instant access' continues - will they turn into self-indulgent nihilists because they are always in the moment with no concept of where they've been, what might be coming or just what it takes to get to the end?

This is the point where I usually have to stop myself and go read some Dickens or Verne. They lived in a time of intense social, economic and industrial change. A time where one might easily begin to wonder if the new generation would value their clothes or clocks if they could just go out and buy a new whatever-it-was on any day but a Sunday. And yet their works are filled with both high emotional drama (of the sort the Hallmark Channel can't touch) and, at the end, a sense of optimism that society will go on and children may be deviant little cusses but most of them will not grow up to be sociopaths who want to eat your children.

the internet, on the other hand, is out to phish you for all you've got!

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