People have been shooting off fireworks during the evening but now, a couple of hours into the night, all seems quiet, not a sound apart from the ventilation of my studio computer trying to do its Darth Vader thing. I'm typing this New Year's Blog - traditions, traditions - whilst rendering video edits from our HCA Festivals concerts earlier this year, currently working on Skyggen, The Shadow for those of you not fluent in Danish, based on the gothic fairytale of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, a story of a learned writer who loses his shadow. Years later, however, the shadow returns and befriends its former master only to slowly but surely reverse roles.
How are you treating your shadow? Or should I say; how is your shadow treating you? Do you find yourself hunting that diagnosis which will turn your everyday paranoia into a medical statement, your very own identity or do you fight for democracy and your right to not help those in need, to separate children from parents, brothers from sisters by casting a vote whenever it doesn't rain? Do you feel confused enough about people confused about their gender or sexuality to spew poison, hiding in the shadows of the internet, writing behind backs or looking for every chance of accusing those who happen to not agree with you, one way or the other? Do you know what you really mean? Which are your thoughts and which are those of the shadow? And do you feel loneliness lurking somewhere near by, getting closer, closer, right behind you right now. Or is it but your shadow?
In this - and any - case I bid you a happy new year and wish you the best of luck. You may very well need it, more than you realise.
'The need to speak, even if one has nothing to say, becomes more pressing when one has nothing to say, just as the will to live becomes more urgent when life has lost its meaning.'
Nothing like good old sarcastic pessimism. The words were Baudrillard's and do in fact not address everyday life on social media - they date back to the eighties. Almost uncanny, right? Let's sing a song instead, shall we? 'Pale blinds drawn on day, nothing to do, nothing to say.'- Bowie most probably was talking about depression, good old Weltschmerz, and certainly not thinking of the common internet troll, but once again, uncanny, eh?
I remember a Laurie Anderson interview years ago when the internet was relatively young and everybody was optimistic about it; now, finally, we'd build a digital Utopia beyond the boundaries of race, gender, sexuality, religion, social class - everybody would get their say. Enter Laurie, tech oracle with spiky hair who had just two comments: remember just because everybody gets the chance to speak doesn't mean everybody actually has something to say. Oh, and enjoy the next few pioneering years, before the entire internet is turned into mass marketing and advertisement galore.
I also remember growing up on the Commodore 64, taking the first few virgin steps into the cyberspace that was Pac Man's maze, I remember the fascination and the longing for that world of Other beyond the screen, the closest thing to Narnia and the Neverland I'd been, and I remember digging William Gibson massively just a few years later because his books were all about that fascination and longing. On the 64 the cool crackers and hackers had modems, they'd swap games, demos, music on bulletin boards and there were even a few net-based games and we mere mortals dreamed of those, the ecstasy, as Baudrillard would have it, of communication. And yes, it was ecstasy and pure bliss a couple of years later, gorgeousness and gorgeousity made flesh, endless nights on the internet communicating with people all over the world. It became a vehicle for subculture, a music scene in its own right, websites as art and expression, games too, and porn, needless to say. You'd make a zillion new friends you never met, some of whom never existed anyway - it was a rave new world, a techno party of communication on ecstasy.
And yet these years I find myself less and less interested in the ecstasy of communication. The thing is this; once something turns everyday it is no longer ecstasy. I bear no technophobic grudge, I do not believe the internet to be the wicked witch of machinery, indeed, my feeling of detachment has little to do with technology, it's a human thing altogether. I use the net and indeed social media, however, I find myself leaving groups and forums rather than joining them, I find myself less and less inclined to partake in online discussions, posting updates or reading those of other people. Not out of arrogance, it seems more a lack of interest or, dare I say, meaning. I'm reminded of John Cage whose interest in aleatoric music made him question his own role as composer - in essence he was increasingly working himself out of the loop as he grew older and then he died. Problem solved. The real and nagging question however is whether or not this is an overall good or bad strategy as regards digital communication given the current state of the world.
Oh, and by now you have probably realized this is just a fancy way of saying I completely forgot about updating my blog this year.
Copyright: Ras Bolding 2018