Saturday 15 October 2011

Living in the Po-Mo Cloud

FRIDAY: Lunch after a round of table tennis is a very thin sandwich with Gorgonzola and sun-roasted tomatoes. All of my sandwiches are very thin at the moment because of stomach problems. It's the stress of Po-Mo life, I think: the failing economy, the lack of challenging work, and gradually learning that living globally without constant headaches is apparently only for the rich. Somehow I have to phone my American bank this weekend by tricking their computerised voice-activated system because I don't have a 5-digit US zip code.

I recently read in the Guardian that postmodernism began on the 15th of July 1972 with the demolition of the Pruitt Igue housing scheme in St Louis, Missouri, signalling the end of the "modern" world. It was around this year that I, like many of my SoCal peers within 2 years of my age, temporarily abandoned pop music and retreated into eclecticism: jazz, blues, Western swing, Tin Pan Alley, jugband music, Dr Demento, Throbbing Gristle, Balkan and Ukrainian folk music, and anything that wasn't "pop". Had I, too, become postmodern?

Life at this moment is definitely postmodern, with everybody contactable every minute of every day by mobile phone, while seemingly sociable people are rendered unable to communicate because of the earphones permanently lodged in their ears that are tuned to the audio effect of digital 0s and 1s instead of the 3D analogue life that surrounds them. I identify with Tacita Dean, a British film artist based in Berlin whose current exhibit has opened in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. In the Guardian she said she's not a Luddite but she mourns the death of film as a medium, as it has been taken over by the Ons and Offs of digital video.

A few years ago when I was designing websites for a living, it suddenly occurred to me in an alarming flash of understanding that I was spending my hours creating and get paid for nothingness. I was making beautiful graphics and animations and even sounds in some instances -- but where were they ending up? Where is my own CoffeeBeer website? Where is this blog? Stephen Fry recently said that Apple's iCloud is located on a mountainside in North Carolina. Is my current Po-Mo blog that you are now reading located somewhere in the Andes? Is my Double Shot Buzz column buried on the bottom of the Mariana Trench? Is Pint Pleasures orbiting around the Earth in a small computer satellite left behind by the Space Shuttle crew? Is any of this really relevant, seeing as how everything you are currently reading and I am constantly writing, photographing, and uploading is nothing more than a mixture of 0s and 1s streamed by And gates and Or gates?

Although my adult life has been largely occupied with computer-related work and activities, I still prefer to hear my music in 3 dimensions, eg. coming at me in soundwaves that move through the physical atmosphere rather than piped directly into my head from little white buds. And I've always very much preferred to talk to someone in 3-dimensional person rather than on the phone. But I also have to admit that if I'm not multitasking at any given moment I feel as though I'm failing to live. And at this point my entire social diary is stored on my mobile phone.

How sad is that? Poor Po-Mo Me…

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