A couple of things from my life that may be tied together by a third thing, an essay.
Thing from my life number one: the book ‘Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past,’ by rock journalist Simon Reynolds. Early on, there’s a fairly dazzling section in which Reynolds talks about ultra modern music like Flying Lotus’s ‘Cosmogramma.’ He makes the point that the music is built from and about media overload, and is a way through that overload. (Of course, critics said the same thing about John Zorn’s mid-80s ‘filing card’ albums on Nonesuch. There is no meme so reliable as ‘media overload.’)
Thing number two: a conversation with a colleague this morning, in which we lamented how 20-somethings choose to live their lives. Even the ones doing a lot of work have a certain vagueness about them, she said. They seem like they’re drifting. Right, I said. Maybe they’re just trying to keep their options open in a lousy economy.
Truth is, I have no idea where that vagueness comes from. As an old person, I also have to suspect my ability to see such things clearly.
Still, I think I see something foreign in many young people, something unreachable that is not simply the far country of youth. It’s a difference that is hard to put a finger on, but it’s there, and this essay catches some of it, and seems to fit with the idea of media saturation as our default state.
I’m not saying it works: I am way too skeptical about post-humanism and the singularity to go all in, and I’m rubbed the wrong way by the notion of ‘making all knowledge playable.’ I am saying the essay explicates a world out of my reach, but perhaps not my son’s.
(The essay was, of course, slashdotted, which is how I found it.)