Best wishes during the holiday season to all my readers. I’m in digital detox over the Christmas and New Year holidays. So no post today. If you’re having withdrawal symptoms or want to know more about digital detox then read ‘Digital detox with a deep vacation‘ posted on August 10th, 2016. Otherwise ‘Slow down, breathe your own air‘ [see my post on December 23rd, 2015].
I’m in digital detox over the Christmas and New Year holidays. So no post today. Instead enjoy the picture or if you’re having withdrawal symptoms or want to know more about digital detox then read ‘Digital detox with a deep vacation‘ posted on August 10th, 2016. Otherwise ‘Slow down, breathe your own air‘ [see my post on December 23rd, 2015].
As I write, it is evening in Liverpool and the daylight is fading. ‘Minds exhausted by the toils of the day settle, and their thoughts bathe in the tender half-tones of the twilight’. This quote is from a translation of a piece of Charles Baudelaire’s prose poetry, called ‘Evening Twilight’ published original in French in 1855. Although it’s a short piece the translation is copyright so I can’t reproduce it here. Baurelaire continues to describe two friends who were made ill by twilight. One who saw coded insults in everything and was unable to enjoy twilight as the prelude to feasts of pleasure; and the other who was frustrated by ambition and became increasingly ‘sour, moody, short-tempered as [the] day waned’. He contrasts the reaction to twilight of his friends to the calm induced himself, the stilling of his thoughts, thoughts startled by hell’s harmonies.
Perhaps today’s hell’s harmonies are the constant stream of digital communication and information transmitted to us by our constantly-connected devices and so many of us read, write and think deep into the night after our friends and colleagues have settled from the toils of the day and ceased to communicate (at least those in the same time zone). Perhaps nothing changes except the form of hell’s harmonies.
Baudelaire, C., ‘No. 22 Evening twilight’ in Paris Spleen, Martin Sorrell (trans.), Richmond, UK: Alma Classics Ltd, 2010.
Recently, we went to see the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at the Liverpool Playhouse. There is a wonderful line in it ‘People go to the movies instead of moving’ when Tom Wingfield comments on everyone living life vicariously through the action-packed life of Hollywood stars. The play was written in the 1940s long before the advent of smart phones. Nowadays people interact with their smart phones rather than with the people around them but still live vicariously through the lives of celebrities. Recent research has found that many people today would actually prefer to deal with computers that appear to understand them rather than with other people, according to Richard Waters. This is a shame because one of the things that makes humans different to computers is our ‘inbuilt propensity for social interaction’. Computers are unlikely ever to replicate our emotions, curiosity, irrationality or creativity (See my post entitled ‘Engineers are slow, error-prone…‘ on April 29th, 2015). So put down your phone or switch off your computer and interact with your fellow human beings.