Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time, Technology, and (Im)Permanence

In past weeks, I've said that I love having visitors because they get me out of the house to be a tourist in my own town.

These past few days, I've realized that visitors also teach me about Internet destinations.  I've been watching my 8 year old nephew watch YouTube videos that show people playing Minecraft.

I've always said that few things are more boring than watching someone else on the computer, and I still stick to that assertion.  I won't be watching these videos once he leaves.  But how fascinating that they exist.

I said to my spouse, "Who says to themselves, I'm going to record myself playing this game.  And then I'm going to create a voiceover feature to explain what I'm doing?"

That's the age we live in, of course.  We have cheap technology that makes it possible to record all sorts of things--and to upload them into a forum where we can all find them.

And of course, who am I to even ask that question?  One might ask the same of me:  why do you need to keep a public journal of your daily thoughts and theological musings?  Why upload?

There are many reasons, of course.  I like that by uploading, I can then have access from any computer.  I like to believe that my writing affects some people in some way.  I like the feedback and the support and the exchange of ideas.  I like that I can write a blog post and link to it on Facebook and thus I don't have to write a lot of e-mails and letters to people to let them know how I am.

I think of future researchers who will have a lot of material to slog through as they do their work.  I think of my grad school self who devoured the journals and letters of Dorothy Wordsworth.  That researcher doesn't have as much that documents the time period as a future researcher will have.

Or maybe our future researcher won't have those materials.  After all, if Google decides to delete the Blogger platform, my writing vanishes.  If YouTube vanishes, what becomes of all those videos?

I think of John Keats writing his poems despite the fact that he must have been convinced that they would not survive him and in the face of bloody evidence each morning that he would not be surviving much longer.

In so many ways, almost every creative person faces the same questions.  We know that we are only here for a short time.  We know that our works may not survive us.  What keeps us going?

Those of us who have been creating for some time, we know that the work itself must sustain us.  It's not the praise, although that would be nice.  It's not the assurance that our works will outlast us.  We cannot be sure.  The poets who were the most famous during Keats' time would be unknown to most of us.  It's Keats that we see as one of the greatest English poets--and most of the people who were alive during his time would not have known his name either.

I have time on the brain.  Sandy Longhorn has been having great conversations about those of us who have multiple creative outlets and how we decide which one to follow.  I said, "I tend to follow the muse that's calling me at the moment, what I passionately yearn to do. It's often writing, but sometimes cooking, sometimes fabric art, sometimes simple sewing of a long seam, sometimes planting, sometimes collage. As I've grown older and my work life takes more time, I find myself thinking about the fact that my life will end at some point, and I ask myself which work is most important, which will have lasting impact. I also ask what will make me most sad if I don't finish the work at hand. The idea of partly finished quilts when I die doesn't haunt me. But oh, all those book-length ideas I have!"

I wonder if Keats had other creative pursuits that he put aside once he realized he had contracted the TB that had killed so many of his loved ones.  I wonder if those gamers who record themselves have all sorts of creative interests.

I wonder what will survive the next 200 years and what that will tell the future researchers who think about us.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

My 5-year-old LOVES watching his "favorite" player's videos of game playing. He is also dying to be able to make his own video of game playing. Like you, I find watching someone else use a computer (or play a video game) the ultimate in tedious, but he just loves it. Amazing! He would rather watch the videos than play the games.