Time, Happy New Year and Other Subjects
Much has been written about the distraction of new technology, hypereality and its artificial and acquiescing nature. Capitalism and postmodernity are bedfellows, dependent upon each other. The recession is long-term and further starves the vulnerable of money, while the wealthy continue to benefit, while politicians legislate to protect the vulnerable! So little has changed in the West and probably beyond, at least not over the last few years. What hasn't changed is the accelerated rate of change, that we should expect to continue for years to come.
If we are well versed in new communications and the state of current affairs, then why should we write at all? Writing is tiresome and ponderous when compared to video, the cogency of photography, the dramatic immediacy of watching sport, the quick laughs and emotional responses to TV entertainment. Writing is dry, thoughtful and time consuming. Indeed, words are limited in their potency and range of expressivity, when compared to images or sounds. Music seems to access our innermost feelings, thoughts and touch upon the rhythms of breath and heart-rate with an immediacy that cannot be matched by any other medium.
Yet we write. It isn't just the personal that can be expressed by writing, an individual's subjective responses to a world in flux. It is the limitations of writing that give it such potency; a power of communication, accessibility. Writings weaknesses are its strengths.
If you are writing about the early 21st Century then it would be difficult not to touch upon the dramatic alterations to sexual relationships. We all know about high divorce rates, short-term marriages, affairs for the many, short-term "partnerships" and the legalisation of gay marriage, but there are other aspects of postmodern relationships that are equally important. Recently I've been reading much about young (and not so young) men and women who prefer to live alone. These burgeoning parts of Western societies find aloneness more conducive to contentment than sharing their life with a sexual partner. The reasons for this are manifold, yet cogent. A culture of suspicion and overt legislation, a reliance on technological communications, hyper-reality, its distraction and promise of the unobtainable, the entrance of many more women into the workplace and an increase in unemployment for many men and the fleeting nature of societies in flux all contribute to this occurrence.
The behaviour of women has also changed, as a result of new legislations to protect women and to enforce "equality". Equality is often anything but, and shifts emphasis and discrimination onto men, tied by the fears of employers and the overbearing actions of the divorce courts. All this has resulted in an attitude of cynicism and fear in many women, causing a distrust of men and relationships and a need to tag on to numerous admirers, pulling them in and then rejecting them in equal measure. However, men too play their part in the current nature of transient relationships. Online porn and casual sex may be interesting diversions, but have an impact on long-term relationships. Equality often causes women numerous problems as well as men. Many women are not cut out to be ambitious and hardened career women and find these expectations difficult, if not impossible to meet. Self-reliance has its advantages and its disadvantages, for example bringing up a child by yourself while trying to hold down full-time employment is both stressful and potentially damaging to children. Many women wish to stay at home and bring up their children, but postmodern realities make this task difficult or even impossible.
Living by legislation, communicated by a multitude of new technologies (we are almost at the point of continually being plugged into devices) leads to an artificial understanding of the real. It's a bit like living within a film rather than going to the cinema, watching and then leaving the film behind. If we are always interacting with a film, we start to wonder what is real and what is a film? If this is the case then we may start to ask questions about gender, gender roles and lose touch with the physical and biological differences between the sexes.
Of course, there have always been people who have been more androgynous than the majority, this is nothing new. However, since gender seems to have become a big issue for people today, we could suggest that this increase is a result of hyper-reality; a loss of touch with reality, the physical and our sexual identities. Coupled with improvements in medical science, gender realignment may become more common. I appreciate the sometimes, profound difficulties that people can experience regarding their gender, and this can have a biological component. However, the physical needn't be regarded as transient or superfluous, it is an important and essential aspect of ourselves.
Writing on the Internet is both liberating and restrictive. People may read a book for hours, but a flickering screen is hard on the eyes and the miasma of information available to the reader is very distracting. My writing on this electronic page is in danger of becoming "Internet prolix"; an irrelevance via time constraints and a plethora of distractions. I guess, unwittingly I have returned to the subject of time even though I have no desire to write about it. It seems that the subject of time is intrusive, which may well indicate our societies obsession with the overt measurement of something
If this writing contains a circular argument then I should end with a coda: and wish all readers, viewers and contributors a very happy 2015. Although, I must say, did anyone notice how fast 2014 passed? Does time pass more quickly as you get older?