Saturday, October 14, 2017

The application of memories

Sometimes, you stumble upon a song you haven't heard in a while, and go "oh yeah, I remember this, this exists". It sparks a memory of times past, and of the emotional equilibrium (or lack thereof) that went along with them. It might be a strong memory, or a passing one. Either way, the memory chord is struck.

Most of the time, nothing much comes of it. You just remember the memory, and then move on. It is the way of things. The world is big and contains many memories.

Sometimes, you stumble upon a song from an artist you only ever heard the one song from. Out of curiosity, you decide to check if there were any other songs made back in the days, and if they are anything like what you've heard so far. After some listening, you discover that there is and that they aren't. In fact, the rest of the artist's production is nothing like that one song; it is an unexplored field of newness that awaits personal discovery.

At times, this is how new favorite artists are found.

To be sure, this process has been made simpler through systems of file sharing - whether they be spotify or discography torrents. Any time you remember something, the option is always there to shore up everything this person has ever done and peruse. All that is needed is a memory, and a name.

It is one of those things that is easy to take for granted. But it is useful, nonetheless.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Lies to live by

There are things you have read which have profoundly changed your mind and the way you think. More often than not, these things you have read are wrong.

This is not meant as an accusatory or derogatory statement. It is just the nature of texts - they are wrong about things, and flawed in the ways which they are right. It goes with being an imperfect medium.

Still. You did read these things, and they did change your mind. They must have done something right.

The thing about texts is that they do not have to be perfect. Or even right or wrong. They have to mobilize what you know into new thoughts, new directions and - possibly - new ways of living.

All fiction is wrong. All fiction is a lie.

But that's okay.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Let's talk about that new Star Trek thingy

There is a new Star Trek on the loose.

I have not seen it. But I have seen people talk about it, and on numerous occasions these fine folks have said - independently of each other - that while there are more important things to talk about than Star Trek, they are now going to talk about it.

When things happen many times independently of each other, the ol' pattern recognition sets in. Something seems to be going on, and it seems to be going on whilst everyone is thinking about something else. This something going on needs to be interrogated, if only to find out just what it is. It might be important.

(To be sure, it is possible to note this as an example of writing in the presence of enemies. But that's another thought.)

The notion that Star Trek is not important is a strange one. As a cultural institution, it has built the foundation for many imaginations, both public and private. It is no exaggeration to say it is a part of a shared cultural heritage - the themes and mythologies spawned from it have had an impact far greater than mere intuition would suggest. It has been a fixed cultural point of reference for generations (in canon and in real time), inspiring countless young minds to do what they do and go where they went. In terms of sheer cultural impact, Star Trek is a big one.

Thus, new iterations of Star Trek are important by virtue of their connection to old iterations. In present terms, it is important through the sheer fact that millions of people are watching it and discussing it - it becomes a part of the overall zeitgeist. In the longer term, it becomes important as a reference point (for critics and fans alike): in the old Star Trek they did x, but in the new one they did y, and this is significant of cultural change z.

This means we cannot attribute these assertions that there are more important things to talk about than Star Trek, to Star Trek. There is something else going on here.

To be sure, there are a non-zero amount of other important things to talk about. Climate change, the rapid transformations of modernity and - not least - the totality of the political situation in the US loom large as important other things. The sheer amount of clusterfucks (actual or potential) that exist in the world are sufficient to make mere lived experience seem trivial and unimportant, and thus discussions thereof follow suit.

Thing is. All we have is lived experience, and denying ourselves the opportunity to talk about it would be detrimental. Even if it happens to be what we thought about the new Star Trek series.

It is a sign of hope that people do talk about Star Trek after having made the disclaimer about there being more important things to talk about. It means there is still a humanity left to explore those final frontiers. -