Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tough Questions on the Road to Reinvention--A Very Personal Wednesday Journal

Is re-invention worth it?  Am I trying too hard?  Not hard enough?  Have I merely fought against a natural state of equilibrium?

Feeling alienated as a teenager, but without the cultural support or consolations I used to find....

Need to step back, and see where I am heading....

A big question: Do I spend too much time dwelling on what has been, and casting an overly-critical eye on what's happening in modern culture?

Some may argue that yours truly disdains technology.... instead of regarding it as just another tool...
that "the past" is just that...
that I am caught in a time warp of my own making, what with my love of "obsolete" artists like Joni Mitchell, Federico Fellini, and so on...
and that my lack of appreciation for things like "Avatar", the latest  electronic book readers, smart phones and home theater technologies renders me "irrelevant".

I argue:

Technology is another tool, but  a tool for what? What I disdain, if anything, is our obsession with the tools (or, "technology"), and less with what they can do for us.  So many line up for the latest phones, but few will use their Kindles to read about the latest scientific breakthroughs.

We are all a product of our pasts. As long as our memories serve us, the past will always be with us...The past, too, is a valuable tool, a tool for understanding.... The past is never "just that."

I defend:

The criticisms I have imagined against myself may not be fair; in a world that screams at you in order to distract you, I try hard to keep myself informed, to learn things, and have new experiences, without losing sight of what brought us to where we are.
I appreciate good things, no matter how "old" they are.
The "time warp" contains much beauty, and messages of comfort or caution, which only the perspective of time can truly bring into focus.

I will try to keep my sense of humor, and console myself that for my age, and among my peer group, I have come a long way.

Can we learn from the past?  Or not?  can the past help to move us forward, or does it hold us back?
Dogs have the uncanny ability to thrive in the "here and now"...and demand that we do the same....Which is why the dogs in my world are a way of navigating a troubling present.
But then, even dogs remember the people who were good to them....or cruel...and respond with the appropriate tail-wag, or fear-posture. If only as self-preservation....

I am rarely comfortable with life as it unfolds, and only gain real appreciation for my "present" later, after reflection and gaining, perspective....
...Even as a child I was not content to enjoy the things that I was expected to enjoy....So, it is just my nature to cast a cynical eye to the things that I am told are "relevant"
....don't forget my Betamax, LOL!

A Declaration:

We can and must learn from the past, and embrace it to some degree....
We cannot reinvent ourselves otherwise. 
When young people are fluent in the language of popular culture, but ignorant of cultural traditions, they are thought of as "visionary".  When mature people express appreciation of the beauty and universality of neglected culture, and challenge the assumptions of popular culture, they are regarded as irrelevant.  Why?

When you get down to it, popular culture has always depended on who has the buying power.  

What interests me is that which lasts, that which helps us to understand ourselves and where we're going, regardless of age. 

As far as reinvention goes, I can feel at peace with my fondness for old things, for past culture, and am happy to furnish my mind with them as a refuge in a difficult world that nonetheless has a place for me, as I continue the processes of learning, and changing, and giving. 

And yes, I wish Fellini were still with us. Fortunately, his work still speaks to us, if we only watch and listen.


  1. Aaaaw. This is lovely. Retrospection is such a a bitch. I'm masochistic like that,I would know.

  2. We need the past, and to remember it, for how else can we know how to reinvent ourselves in the present? Beautiful again, Tom.

  3. Your kind words...Andrew and Walter....are a balm to me, and always keep me enthused and motivated.