Sunday, July 31, 2011

À la recherche du temps gagné

[Bloomington, Indiana]
We all know that the invention of agriculture has made us numerous, unhealthy, poor, and sad. Since then, there have been many inventions to make us again healthier and richer. But what about happiness? What have we invented to make ourselves happier, or at least to partly forget the weight of place and possession on our memories?

Today [a couple days ago] I found myself without the Internet. This is not really unusual: after all, I walk around outside, fly on planes, and occasionally spend nights in bulldozers under brilliant liquid baldaquins. What's different about this time is that I was at home, and that I felt the pressure of tears, suddenly and without reason. A pure and formless nostalgia.

Normally I would have drowned out the nascent sadness by reading blogs or the news or some other thing that I use to waste time. But since this wasn't an option, I had to figure out its source and make it go away.

It turns out that two of the four bulbs in my chandelier had burnt out months ago, and I had never before worked up the energy to buy new ones.

Indeed, before people could rot years staring at screens in the dark, there were light bulbs. And before there were light bulbs, there was Poe, trying in vain to blot out "nevermore" with unsteady candlelight.

I wonder what beautiful and simple coping mechanisms we began to take for granted, and perhaps lost, after Edison's invention oozed across the globe.

[Edit: as I was searching for the links to put at the top, I found a great blog with arguments for and against these ideas.]