“I gave up my cell phone.”
What? I couldn’t believe I’d heard correctly. Near me, someone was asking for a friend’s cell phone number and that was his reply. My mouth must have been hanging open, because he caught me staring and answered my unasked question. “I found myself paying more attention to it than to what was going on around me.”
Wow! I was in awe- the courage, the self-control, the… enlightenment bordering on Buddhist Arahant (the highest level of personal enlightenment achievable.) I was also intrigued. It led to a very interested and surprisingly down-to-earth discussion with this guy about the technological revolution.
Anytime someone throws NPR into a conversation you know I am hooked. So when this guy mentioned a show he’d heard describing the evolution of society through the Industrial Revolution into the technological one, I needed more. Searching NPR provided a number of sources on America’s great challenges and led to some finds such as Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Cukier, Kenneth and Mayer-Schonberger, Viktor, and Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Robinson, James A. and Acemoglu, Daron. But nothing pointed directly to the conversation we had about man’s evolution based on these two revolutions.
I suppose his reference is a bit like my overhears- a snippet of information which prompts deeper thought and consideration.
So while I can’t give you a link to reference, I can give you a bit more about our discussion. If I could sum it up in one sentence it would be- There is hope for artists. Here’s our train of thought…
The industrial revolution changed the way we work, lessening our need to focus on physical effort and instead direct work toward intellectual pursuits. The technological revolution is gradually lessening our mental efforts, allowing us to, what? And that is the question… what is left? If our bodies and minds are taken care of, this guy theorized that was is left is our emotions. Computers can’t emote (at least not yet). But we can…. So will our focus be on developing our emotional capacity? And if so, which area does this better than art?
Which brings us back to the idea of the cell phone and his giving it up. It is difficult to feel anything in a world where we are at least one step removed from what is happening around us. Rather than experience people we are with or react to the nature around us, it is now easy for us to hide behind the screen on our mobile phone or tablet. If what is demanded of us as artists, though, is a link to emotion, than we must break free of this boundary and step back into the world. We must focus on living moments with mindfulness and spontaneity so that we can translate meaning back to emotion.
And by translate, in my case, I mean write. And by write I mean type. Which I suppose means that I am not completely done with technology yet.
NEWS... NEWS... NEWS
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Are you ready to give up your cell phone yet? Do you happen to know more about the NPR program mentioned? Leave a comment and I’ll enter you into a drawing where one lucky January commenter will win a copy of any one of Daniel Davidson's Travel Free Guides. Check back at the end of the month to see if you’re my winner. Please note –while I love and appreciate getting Facebook posts and Twitter replies, the comment must be made on my blog, using the blog form – this way all who see the blog post can engage in a shared conversation. Thanks.
(BTW - For those of you who don’t yet know of Daniel Davidson, he’s a travel writer with great advice on saving money while traveling. Check his website for more info: http://www.freetravelideas.com/)
NOTE: Thanks for all of the fun comments during the month of December. I am super happy to announce that is the winner of the $10 donation is Catherine Castle. A donation to my local Alzheimer's organization has been made in your name. Congratulations Catherine!
“Yes, bath! No bath! Yes bath! No bath!”
For those of you who can make a high squeaky voice, say the above in that tone and you will get the gist. My daughter’s loveys – a tiger guy and a bunny guy, affectionately known as the guysies – were about to be put into the washing machine and were arguing with each other and their mom (my daughter) about being washed.
Tiger guy apparently likes the way the washing machine is like a roller coaster; while Bunny guy doesn’t like the way it goes around and around and makes him dizzy.
I could write a whole story about all of the things that the guysies do and say. It would probably help if I could draw them, though. Yesterday on NPR I heard an interview of Ethan Nicolle, co-creator (with his 5 yr old brother) of the comic series, Axe Cop. It was the first I had heard of this hilarious hero and the brothers that created him.
(You can hear the entire interview on CBCRadio here.)
As you read or watch Axe Cop (the comic has now been turned into a cartoon) you can definitely see that it comes directly out of a young child’s imagination. But that is what is so funny about it. It is unedited, a world in which the hero at one moment can be fighting aliens and in the next making lemonade that then turns to frozen ice pellets for shooting the bad guys.
Just like Tiger Guy and Bunny Guy, the hero and his side-kick have real personalities and act accordingly. In my daughter’s world, Tiger Guy is the responsible one (also she is a female, just sayin’) and Bunny Guy is the adventurous one… always trying to fly off to the forest on his super speed scooter. They eat pickle and olive sandwiches and have been part of our family since my daughter was a baby.
In fact, in order to prevent the disaster of losing one of them, we bought a back-up pair which we switched out every few weeks. It wasn’t until my daughter was five that we finally gave in and told her the truth. That there were two sets of guysies. This was accepted easily, and ended up being used to explain why they sometimes got into trouble (turns out the ‘bad’ pair were the trouble-makers.)
This good vs. bad scenario is at the core of most imaginative play, as children try to make sense of a world that, to them at least, appears random. In Axe Cop, these good and bad events occur so fluidly and often that it makes the reader or viewer dizzy. But it is also what makes it funny. Because, I think, on a gut level, we all continue to struggle with a world out of our control. Someone can seem like a normal person and then plant a bomb at the end of the Boston Marathon. In one part of the world our children can be going back to school while, in another part they flee chemical weapons and war.
Bunny Guy and Tiger Guy show us that, even though we may argue about being dumped in that washing machine, ultimately it is out of our control. Our only choice is in whether we see it as a roller coaster or a trial.
Have you seen Axe Cop or do you have another favorite kids cartoon? Do your kids make up creative stories with their stuffed animals? I love hearing from my readers. And to prove it I’m giving away a copy of BETTING JESSICA to
one lucky commenter during the month of September.
Leave a comment for any of my blog posts and at the end of each month I will randomly select one visitor/commenter to receive a free download of my book. (Note: winner will be notified by a reply linked to their original comment…. Check back at the end of the month for directions on how to claim your prize!)
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