Postcards from Planet Analogue
So, I’m slowly emerging from my analogue cocoon. Imagine no internet interaction for almost a year… In quick succession, I turned 50, concluded my 33-year narrative obsession with the publication of The Unholy Consult, and achieved my 20-year theoretical goal with the publication of “On Alien Philosophy.” On the down side, my arthritis had worsened to the point where mowing the lawn became something I could only accomplish on ‘good days’—where taking four ibuprofens at a time was the rule, not the exception.
Change was upon me, whether I liked it or not. Only the form was in question.
At first, I started working on The End of Meaning, a non-fiction book attempting to sum the abstruse matters we’ve covered here in a manner that would be generally accessible. But my house is over 130 years old, so I also had a long list of renovation projects I wanted to complete. My arthritis lent a ‘now or never’ urgency to these projects—so I forced myself to persist despite the pain and my lifelong aversion to renovations. I grew up encircled by gutted walls. I’ve demolished. I’ve roofed. I’ve framed. I’ve spent entire afternoons straightening bent nails!
I was convinced that my appetite for construction would quickly peter out, and that my hunger to write would consume all—the way it always has. I replaced my rear screen door with a gorgeous glass one I got on clearance. Since parts were missing, I was forced to cut and hammer an old eavestrough nail into a spindle. So, there I was, pounding nails once again! The thing is my youthful alienation was nowhere to be found. The feeling of accomplishment I got installing that door was nothing short of ridiculous.
Next on the list was repairing the roof of my 130-year-old barn. Certainly, that would send me scampering back to the computer screen!
No such luck. The job sucked ass, to be sure, but I felt… invigorated, I guess. Renewed. Taking four ibuprofens had become the exception once again.
I began rethinking things. All the time I’ve spent pondering ancestral neglect structures had made me nostalgic for the analogue cognitive ecologies of my youth. But were they so idyllic as I remembered?
So, every morning after delivering my wife to work and my daughter to school I set to work rebuilding my old barn from the inside out. I accessed the web only via my phone, and then only to do those things I could do in the analogue days: buy books, research how-to, check the news and weather. I neglected everything else—to my professional and interpersonal detriment I’m sure! There’s no way to sort the effects of physical labour from the effects of an analogue neglect structure, I know, but I’ll be damned if they didn’t seem to be of a piece. Working with your hands means working with brute matter. After a lifetime spent sculpting smoke, continually arguing the reality of my creations, the determinacy and the permanence of my work, let alone the immediate understanding it evoked in others, were blessed indeed. Nothing need be questioned. Nothing need be defended. For once, it was what it fucking was.
Matter has no voice. The tools we evolved to manage it run as deep as life itself, whereas the tools we evolved to manage one another only run as deep as we do. And man-o-man, does it show.
Now, I have a swank office in the loft of an antique barn. More importantly, I’m down to one or two ibuprofen a day—if I remember to take them at all. I feel ten years younger.
So, forgive me my absence, or my awkwardness crawling back into my old digital cockpit. Sometimes you need to go missing for a while, lest you go missing for good.