January 31, 2006
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“Welcome home take off your coat,
it’s been years since we last spoke,
it’s been too long.”
-Matthew Walker - “Anymore”
It has indeed been a long time. I’m not even going to try to catch things up, at least not now, especially considering that by now, with my extended hiatus, I’ve more than likely managed to alienate what small readership I actually had anyways. Those who’ve been interested have kept up regardless.
No, this isn’t to catch up. This is me using this site the way I originally intended: as a place to write the things that come to my mind that I otherwise wouldn’t write down, and would ever be lost to my violently non-eidetic mind. I’m digressing.
In my younger more impressionable years, I happened to catch a relatively lazy bit of national television journalism that has yet to leave me since. The piece was on a software engineer working in Silicon Valley (during the height of the dot com bubble of course), a position I’ll soon share (at least temporarily with Apple Computer for the uninformed). What made this particular engineer unique from the flock that has taken root there was his singular method of living for a member of the technorati. Every day, after work, this man would brave San Francisco’s traffic holocaust, and proceed quite a ways out of the city, into the mountains, and onto his farm, where he quietly lived in a small ranch house complete with goats, crops, and all the other amenities a well-paid professional seeking to build a facade of country simplicity could want.
At the time I thought only in passing of the juxtaposition in the man’s life. The themes of escapism, luddism, and underlying message that all may not be right in technological paradise eluded me, yet the picture remained. Having spent 4 years, countless hours, innumerable late nights, and god-knows how many lost opportunities for social growth to the pursuit of what this man had, but found unsatisfying, I find the image much more pressing. Perhaps even frightening.
The thing is… I appreciate simplicity. One of the happiest times I’ve had was spent alone, on a motorcycle, with some clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag, and a stove, and miles of country roads. My friend D has told me of some times he spent in small villages in Fiji, where the people are villagers - not engineers, blacksmiths, butchers, farmers nor teachers, but villagers - and it sounds amazing. “When someone needs a house, the villagers come together and build them a house,” he tells me. Sure, sounds great, lets check the zoning, make sure everything is up to code, and double-check that we can get a tax write-off while we’re at it. Simplicity, goddammit! Make what you need, sell what you don’t, buy what you can’t!
We Americans are so quick to consider ourselves so amazingly lucky to have been born to such wealth and abundance, and why shouldn’t we? We’re on top! We’re number 1! It may not last, but who cares? Forward-thinking has never really been our strong suit. No, our disadvantages our less obvious, more institutionalized. It’s hard to see the problem while we eat our fast-food, watch our 100 channels of Television, listen to our shiny MP3 players, watch porn on our cell phones (thanks Soloway), and fall farther and farther from my image of humanity. Of course there are plenty of societies trying to emulate and assimilate, so I’m probably just wrong.
Or maybe I just need a vacation.