It would not have been possible to imagine a century back, multitudinous outburst of activities pushing the world towards chaos. It would not even have been possible to perceive, even if they existed at that level. Like watching a movie at 60 fps is likely to tire the viewer, so does the glut of information whizzing towards its obsolescence drain the languid observer, And if one happens to be an active rider, a major part of it goes into invisibility, with limited number (and yet too many) dizzily jiffy-ing around.
The info-highway demands certain qualities – concentration, constant communication, fluid adaptability – which seem contra-indicated and negates few held previously in esteem: stillness, contentment, contemplation. It is amazing how despite erosion at individual level, thought survives in a distributed form. Thinking is no longer a privilege available to certain class. It is a 24 hour activity and more — it is collective continuum of thought.
We, individually as well as collectively, have gained so much in past few years, that few enjoy the wisdom to use our wealth. This proves out the cynical witticism: the more things change, the more they remain same.
Freedom, leading to choice in excess may become burdensome, yet remains highest of human ideals. Changing use of language might drive old wisdom out, but a new interest in typography is sufficient to revive it in visual presentation of phrases. Each to his own. Where there is will, there is way. Tat twam asi. That thou art. No longer are these mere phrases mouthing ideals; they are quite practicable. You can do what you wish. You can tailor almost anything to your choice – as long as the tedium of this doesn’t fag you out. In a recent conference, a tech-designer, Josh Clark illustrated the possible range of selection. A senior relative with deep interest in geography and weather is barely placated by a weather App for his iphone, which details climate conditions for every ZIP code and three million international locations. For himself, Josh uses one which shows just the umbrella status, in bold capitals – YES or NO.
What is the price? Ephemera.Thinness. No good is common good anymore. No one can deny, that declared common good. Paradoxical? Yes. Included in price. Quizzical? Well, brevity is soul of (t)wit.
To return to not-so-long-ago age of explanations and obvious causality, the unrealizable ideal of yore is available today, but not to all and not for long. No goal has permanence of a life-time. There is nothing sadder than loss of eternity. You achieve what you always dreamed of. If you thought there would be others striving for same, you are wrong.
You discover your fulfillment; the grand achievement means little to others. You are finally able to decipher Indic script; well, good for you! Your success interests others as much as a teen singer’s Friday song, if not less.
When they have stopped teaching cursive writing to children in school, how remote and fleeting might seem a person’s obsession with at 2300 year old script. Where you can not even catch a phrase in a viral twitter stream when news breaks, what ‘knowledge’ can one hope to gain from some piece of writing that has communicated little in two millenniums.
But far more serious than ‘ephemera’ is the problem of ‘thinness’. In times, when the idea of such arch-attainment was limited to privileged few, possibility of its actuality was secured for ‘the blessed’, ‘sages’ and ‘heroes’. Today when the news of one or other such happening is likely to reach everyone, major part of population stands denied. The divide between West and East is not so great as that between Online and Offline. Virtuality is deeply enmeshed in systems that surround every living being today, but its understanding and use is not. Those who existed solely on the real, material plane find their meager existence vaporize into ether, their abstractions of life swept away in the mire of cyber nano-notions. Individually unrecognized, the solidity of their existence had always been part of the physical reality. They are generations marked extinct; their life-crest achievement voided by cyber virtuality. Even those young enough to be counted in are not all fortunate to be part of ephemera, which demands the perfect combination of certain qualities to sync one in.