Friday, February 7, 2020

Technology...

There is a lot of discussion today about how technology impacts the individual - in terms of how they relate to others, in terms of their interaction with a group, in terms of isolating and alienating each of us from general discourse.

Now I love technology - have always been intrigued by and fascinated by it and despite my age, I'm readily able to learn and adopt new technology.  I do see the truth in many of the discussions but I also see the advantages of technology.  Yes, some kids seem isolated and detached from flesh and blood friends - OR as I point out, they just communicate in a different way than us?  Not necessarily worse or better, but the nature of life is change and we, as a species are infinitely adaptable.  Every generation looks back and becomes the curmudgeon that grumbles "in my day"....

My kids were all what was termed in their youth, "dyslexic" - i.e.  learned disabled. They process information differently and struggled with basic skills early on in their academic career. They are damn bright, however, like their father, from whom they inherited the gene. But how lucky were they?  When I met D. in high school, he had originally (along with his subsequent brothers and sisters) been put in what we inelegantly referred to as the "bo bo" class. Thankfully, several teachers in our high school recognized his innate intelligence (we're talking 160 IQ!)- and crafted an (unheard of in those days - early 70s) independent learning program for him.  I actually met him in an Advanced English class.  Fast forward many years later when he came down to university (I was going into third year when he entered first)- and we discovered through the learning lab he was this thing labelled "dyslexic".  The very fact that we were aware and watching for it made it so much easier on my kids - albeit "easy" perhaps is a misnomer.  But recognizing it meant working with it - and I worked bloody hard .... figuring out which learning style suited each child - and of course, not ONE processed knowledge the same way!

But I digress...

Like anything in life, technology can have positive and negative impacts.  It is ultimately up to the individual to recognize and deal with how it affects their relationships, their passage through their world and the ramifications of how it changes, improves or devolves how they relate personally and on a macro level.

"Blaming" technology for issues in a relationship, for a failure to communicate or anything else is disingenuous... for when all is said and done it is our human hands manipulating it, our human minds embracing or rejecting it, our human choices deciding on how to use it.

My kids had it better than their father ever did - and by the time they reached high school were adept at using technology to abet and improve their output, by university they were thriving and even the minimal adaptations they got in high school for being learning disabled was no longer required.  Partially because I refused 95% of the adaptations they could have had - reasoning once out and about in the world, people wouldn't be "adapting" or "excusing" them from being anything but capable at the work they were being paid to do.

I am entranced that the guru who I studied doing my Master's - Marshall McLuhan - foretold the world in which we live today - back in the 1960s when a technology that gave us each a window onto the world was not even in the rich imaginations of most of us.  The Global Village McLuhan predicted is indeed today's reality and the oft quoted printer's error has become a prophetic currency "the medium is the massage" ...

From Wikepedia (which I concur is not always accurate but in this case, spot on):

Marshall McLuhan argues technologies — from clothing to the wheel to the book and beyond — are the messages, not the content of the communication. Basically, in its fundamental essence, The Medium is the Massage is a graphical and creative representation of his "medium is the message" thesis seen in Understanding Media.
By playing on words and using the term "massage," McLuhan suggests modern audiences enjoy MainStream media as soothing, enjoyable, and relaxing; however, the pleasure we find in the MainStream media is deceiving, because/as/since the changes between society and technology are incongruent, perpetuating an Age of Anxiety.
All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences, they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. (p. 26)
The Medium is the Massage demonstrates the ways the MainStream media are extensions of human senses; they ground us in physicality, but expand our ability to perceive our world to an extent impossible without the MainStream media. These extensions of perception contribute to McLuhan's theory of the Global Village, which would bring humanity full-circle to an industrial analogue of tribal mentality.

Brilliant!

Technology is not evil - it is - as usual- what we do with it.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

drifting spirits...

as I drift from room to room, I feel a frisson of familiarity that tugs at my heartstrings and breathes memory into my skin, which ripples and shivers in the now.  Blood courses beneath the paleness of flesh and sings into my mind the before.  My house is pregnant with a presence which calls from upstairs and I hear the ghostly hum of when.

The Celts were worshippers of the goddess in all her guises... the maiden innocent and fresh, the mother, fecund and round with child, and the crone, the wise woman. Even the rude ingress of the patriarchy was incapable of completing eradicating the Celtic belief in the powerful beauty of female.  Sheela na gigs continue to crouch beneath church gables,  spread worn stone thighs wide over lintels, and you see their almost comical yet powerfully erotic and scarred faces with rictus grins in a silent but powerful defiance at misogyny.

I am the crone.

Here, in the twilight of my life, the maiden a distant memory, the mother remembered with warmth and a hot rush of full breasts and round, hard belly, I embrace the wise woman.  The lyrical and passionate nature of the Irish is both a cliche and the truth of a race subjected to brutality and loathing by the British knee on our throats for 700 years yet NEVER flagging in their determination to self-rule and freedom, husbanding their own unique language, remembering their myths, legends and even their own flavour of Christianity where their love of the goddess simply was rebranded in their passionate devotion to the Mother.

My mother calls to me, her voice I hear in the soughing of the wind, in the twitter of birds in the frigid white of a winter morning where the sun strikes silver off the pristine fall of new snow and the blue of the frigid sky cries into the yellow orb of a frozen sun.  She lived her Irishness in the flick of salt over the shoulder, the admonition to not change your shirt if it was on the wrong side, and her myriad of sayings....

She believed passionately in her god, but from a young age I was told "talk to his mother, he can't say no" and her intuition was legendary and often life-altering.  And here I sit and the intuition which I have listened to sporadically over the decades is now keen and inexplicably pointed and I realize, as I begin to learn anew to listen to that amorphous churning, the sudden thought which unbidden and out of context suddenly arrives full-fledged and solid, in the tightening of my chest, the ripple of maybe which passes over my skin like the barest, lightest of breaths... that to listen is both my heritage and my reality.

I am the crone.

There was a reason the patriarchy worked hard to eradicate, undermine, destroy the wise women of the lands they conquered, to take what once was female power and twist it and ruin and it and create around it distaste, distrust and distraction - to seize what was fine and fair and thrust into communities their greed and their desire to rule.

I am the crone.

and I will listen to my thoughts.  


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Restless....



I'm restless and unsettled... the weather outside reflecting the capriciousness of emotion and affect that assails me .... mercurial, one moment focused and energetic the next.  I find myself dissolving into angst and an incandescent rage that burbles beneath the surface from the most minor of irritations, impatient, wilful and void of any kind of balance.

I am a creature of moods.  A denizen of the restless, unsettled ocean.  Not the calm, azure blaze of a tropical sea but the cold, grey undulation of the Atlantic.  Often, a calm face belies the tumult which roils beneath, the innocence of a smile masking the clenched teeth behind a rictus of lips.

What complicated beings we are!

I envy the placidness of dogs, the simplicity and honesty of their reactions.  There is joy and sadness, contentment and impatience - all there, obvious and predictable.  Most animals see with clear eyes, unlike the twisted, uncertainty of the human beast, whose misnamed "superior" brain clouds the solidness of day-to-day reality.

Nor is it that those not condemned to occupy a human body are devoid of emotion. They love, they mourn, they feel pain, emotional and physical - but they greet each day as a new beginning, one pregnant with possibility and grasp each moment as the first moment, not hobbled by the hindsight and self-reflection that so often condemns us to a constant yearning and confusion.

Death in particular is a great, shining scythe that cuts through pretence and delusion and lays bare the maelstrom of confused psychosis that crouches like a malignant creature at our centres.  For dealing with the aftermath of a death is never as easy as simply grieving - rather, what occurs is a veritable tornado of "what ifs" - of "what might have beens" - of guilt over the times your patience wore thin and you snapped, of self-flagellation over the times you ignored the entreaty, of a profound, deep welling of agony over the things you can no longer plan with that individual.

It takes away your future (with them).

It mars your past experiences (with them).

It goads you into a self-exploration that is never pretty nor comfortable nor "fixable"... because there is no going back and having a "re-do" - what's done is done, what's been said has been said, what occurred will always have occurred...

Humans are such messy creatures!

We seem condemned to constantly reassess and redefine our own realities. To question and rethink decisions made, actions taken.  We find it so damn CHALLENGING to simply accept what we cannot change.

More to come.