Day One of the new writer’s room.  Three of what will likely be the most important books in contemporary American lit to write, and just over 40 non-book projects howling like addicts for attention.  So, natch, the first thing I do is leave to go do something else and then bitch about it.
 I am not supposed to live in this place, and it’s really quite absurd to expect me to artfully express myself in this climate.
In the place where I’m supposed to live, it rains all the time, but most heavily at night.  Violently stormy, wrath-of-God type rain.  And in the place where I’m supposed to live, those nights are impossibly long and wonderful.  But in the place where I’m supposed to live, when the dawn comes and the rain alleviates a bit, the sky is full of blimps and hot air balloons and all manner of oddly shaped dirigibles.
Unfortunately, I don’t live in the place where I’m supposed to live, so it’s a very big deal when there is any rain at all ever, and an even bigger deal when there are blimps.  I got to see the launch of the Goodyear Blimp up close and personal this morning.  It was noisy and intense and wonderful.  There were several other people in attendance to observe the launch, and all of them, every last one of them, had their phones or some kind of camera device out, busily and often fussily filming the rather colossal goings-on.  This happens everywhere now, and I find it deeply disturbing.

Of course, as it was happening, I thought to myself (having no one else to think to), “This would be pretty cool to post to Facebook, et al.,” but then, as always happens when I have such thoughts, I found myself too involved in actually experiencing the thing that I could muster exactly zero interest in the distraction that would occur if I had to pull out my phone, open the camera app, turn the thing to video, and then begin shooting.  Because you can’t do both, at least not well.
That is one of two significant reasons I no longer go to live musical performances: everybody has their goddamn phone out, and they are there to shoot a video so that they can prove they were there (I guess) instead of contenting themselves with making actual memories for personal use or just enjoying a vital, honest, and direct connection with something or someone else.  This is also why I would no longer be interested in doing live musical performances.  I have been on both sides of this equation, and it is about as close to actual magic as it gets when someone is expressing themselves perfectly through music, and in that very moment, makes eye contact with you.  It can be more intimate than sex, and more moving than anything that is likely to happen at church.
Now that I think about it, this insistence on videoing or otherwise digitally “capturing” every goddamn thing has not just a little to do with why I stopped teaching and doing any scheduled public appearances as well.  The moment you pull out a camera and start recording something, you are no longer an actual participant in the event: you are a journalist.  A mere observer.  In addition to promulgating their recording on social media,these folk feel compelled to comment, at which point they become a de facto critic.  At which point they have likely garnered the contempt of their subject, and made genuine connection an impossibility.
This is why I’ve never gotten into the idea of recording sex, or even trying phone sex or sexting: if we are touching our phones, then we ain’t touching each other, and if we ain’t touching each other, then it ain’t sex.  Call me old fashioned, but I need soft skin and hot breath, not pixels and beeps.
I don’t know.  I guess the perniciousness of feeling compelled to digitally capture an event rather than be humanly involved in the event is most disturbingly on display in the countless daily uploads of fights and beatings around the world, but most particularly here in the States.  Some horrible beating is taking place in the middle of the day, in the middle of a bunch of people, and those people don’t just stand around and watch…they film it.  It has become better to make a video than to actually be present and human, to experience and participate, to actually help rather than to just document disaster.
Okay, I should stop, because if I keep going, I’m going to arrive at the conclusion that smart phones and social media are creating sociopaths, and no one wants to think that.
Anyway, I saw the goddamn blimp take off, and it was brilliant.  And I didn’t get a single picture.  But of everyone there, I think I was the only one who really saw it, who actually vitally experienced it.
Alright…enough of this hooey.  There is literature to be committed, dammit.

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