Thursday, July 31, 2008
Give it a read and share your thoughts...
July 31, 2008
Angelina Jolie and the superfast generation
Nothing happens quickly enough for us anymore
Carol Midgley from Times online
Which, do you think, is the most depressing part of the following story? Angelina Jolie, according to Us Weekly magazine (not necessarily to be believed) and about four million websites (even less to be believed), used IVF to conceive her twins not because she needed to but because she didn't have the patience to get knocked up in the normal, grunty-grunt way. She chose the procedure, says the alleged source, because she wanted more children more quickly, and “wouldn't have to deal with the stress of trying to get pregnant. She could just knock it out”. Aah, bless.
So, is it worse that a) instant gratification is so normal that people now require an immediate, copulation-free foetus in the same way that they might open a packet of Mr Mash to save the time it takes to boil three potatoes, or b) that it is considered a chore to have sex with Brad Pitt?
On balance I'd say the former (although Brad's gorgeousness arguably peaked in Fight Club). Because wanting to accelerate every human experience is the sickness of the age. Whether the story is true or not (it hasn't been confirmed by Brangelina's camp), it is an extreme version of how we lead our own fast-forward lives, speed-reading our children's bedtime stories, lipo-sucking because we're too impatient to diet, reading the review instead of the whole book to save time, time, time. Nothing - literally nothing - happens quickly enough for us anymore.
Who has not mentally machine-gunned a dawdling Sunday driver or rasped “come on, come ON” because Google took 1.2 seconds to come up with 177,276 search results rather than the usual 0.5? A friend, frustrated by ambling old dears who block the pavement slowing him down on his way to work, often imagines they are evil penguins in a computer game which he zaps with a harpoon because “they've got all day to buy KiteKat whereas I need to be somewhere, OK?” I cannot judge him for I frequently fantasise about Tasering people who, having just used a cash machine, continue to stand there and Put. Everything. Back. In. Their. Purses. Very. Slowly, as if the rest of us in the queue are just standing there to take the night air.
Which is why Barack Obama stands out like a welcome beacon of zen. This week in an overheard aside to David Cameron he confided that “the most important thing you need to do is have big chunks of time during the day when all you're doing is thinking”. Without that, he said, “you lose the big picture”.
You can say that again, Barack. A thousand fist bumps to you. Such as when you find yourself upstairs compulsively checking your spam-filled e-mail inbox when you could be watching Harry Hill's TV Burp with your family downstairs. Or when the passenger on a train stares fixatedly at the ghost-white screen of his BlackBerry for the entire journey, oblivious to the beautiful sunset outside.
The super-busy are so often the dullest people because they don't think, they only “do”, skimming the surface of life in a shallow feast of 15-minute windows seldom reflecting, not even for a moment, on what any of it means.
A recent study by the British Council which timed pedestrians walking in cities across the world concluded that the speed of life is 10 per cent faster than in the early 1990s. Last month it was reported that “65 per cent of young professionals are ‘too busy' for friends”, preferring virtual Facebook interaction to the real thing.
This will be no shock to those of us accustomed to phoning friends and quickly realising they are writing e-mails throughout the conversation. Clickety click clack, they go while making vague sounds of feigned interest such as “mmm, mmm, sounds great” when you've just told them your dog is on fire. It's like trying to talk to the teenager whose distracted glaze says: “Whatever, fogey, wind it up. I just heard my phone beep and if I don't read that text which probably says something really important like ‘Gr8! lol x' I might actually die.”
But this dim, distracted impatience of the hurrysick, multitasking generation who live “full” lives but aren't actually “there” for them is not peculiar to teenagers. No, no. Check out the sallow pockets of light now dotted around theatres as pig-ignorant audiences check their BlackBerries throughout the performance.
In his essay Is Google Making us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr observes that he now seems less able to engage himself deeply in long, complicated narratives or arguments. “Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a jet ski,” he says. It's so obviously true. Anyone who doubts that our attention spans are dwindling is seriously...oh, who cares? I sometimes find myself talking to two-year-olds and having to stop myself saying: “Yes, yes, but what's your point?”
In his new book, The Dumbest Generation, Mark Bauerlein argues that the internet has habituated people into “juvenile mental habits”, where they don't have to stick with anything that bores them and so use it mainly not to stimulate or educate themselves but to stay in a constant, illiterate cycle of inane social chat on Facebook and MySpace. Is it coincidence that, as he reports, two thirds of US undergraduates now score above average on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, up 30 per cent since 1982?
Oh, can't we stop all this and just have a cup of tea and a Gregg's pasty instead? Maybe, if Obama becomes President, he can lead the Western world into a collective Slow Movement where you get shot in the legs if you run up escalators. Maybe he could start by going round to Brangelina's with some incense sticks, a giant Toblerone and the box set of Murder, She Wrote and tell them both to chill the hell out.
After all, if two of the “hottest” people in the world get together, take each other off the market and then (allegedly) fail to have sex at every opportunity, that should probably be made illegal.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
And of course I could talk forever about all the social issues that stem from this movie.......and maybe that's what we should take from watching Juno...the chance to talk to each other, or our older kids about how we feel on the many issues that could be raised from this movie. Why in the world did Juno and Bleeker have sex, much less unprotected sex in the first place? The whole abortion debate... The question on whether Juno and Bleeker would have made better parents in the end than the Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman characters, (and it was a little too weird having Bateman's character acting attracted to a pregnant Juno.) The idea that putting a child up for adoption can be a real good thing at times, yes. But the leaving the father totally out of all the decisions and thinking on the baby, no. 'Nough said and point made.
All in all I'm glad this movie was made and that I finally got to see it! For me, it's a 4 out of 5.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
"There are two ways in which one can own a book. The first is the property right you establish by paying for it, just as you pay for clothes and furniture. But this act of purchase is only the prelude to possession. Full ownership comes only when you have made it a part of yourself, and the best way to make yourself a part of it is by writing in it. An illustration may make the point clear. You buy a beefsteak and transfer it from the butcher’s icebox to your own. But you do not own the beefsteak in the most important sense until you consume it and get it into your bloodstream. I am arguing that books, too, must be absorbed in your blood stream to do you any good.
Confusion about what it means to “own” a book leads people to a false reverence for paper, binding, and type — a respect for the physical thing — the craft of the printer rather than the genius of the author. They forget that it is possible for a man to acquire the idea, to possess the beauty, which a great book contains, without staking his claim by pasting his bookplate inside the cover. Having a fine library doesn’t prove that its owner has a mind enriched by books; it proves nothing more than that he, his father, or his wife, was rich enough to buy them.
There are three kinds of book owners. The first has all the standard sets and best sellers — unread, untouched. (This deluded individual owns woodpulp and ink, not books.) The second has a great many books — a few of them read through, most of them dipped into, but all of them as clean and shiny as the day they were bought. (This person would probably like to make books his own, but is restrained by a false respect for their physical appearance.) The third has a few books or many — every one of them dog-eared and dilapidated, shaken and loosened by continual use, marked and scribbled in from front to back. (This man owns books.) …
But the soul of a book “can” be separate from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music. Arturo Toscanini reveres Brahms, but Toscanini’s score of the G minor Symphony is so thoroughly marked up that no one but the maestro himself can read it. The reason why a great conductor makes notations on his musical scores — marks them up again and again each time he returns to study them—is the reason why you should mark your books. If your respect for magnificent binding or typography gets in the way, buy yourself a cheap edition and pay your respects to the author."
So what type of book owner are you? For myself, I'm a major carnavore of books and they do become very much a part of my being as I shamelessly spinebend, dogear, highlight, underline, and jot notes in the margins. My books are never the same after I live in them! But likewise, I'm changed to differing degrees by them and their content as well. I think that's maybe why I think books are such personal possessions and why I never loan them to others...no one would be able to decifer them with all my markings! ; )
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
it seems obvious. but sometimes it is HARD. really, really hard.
so hard you can’t eat and you just want to throw up.
so hard it may take you a while to get there.
so hard your mind could be filled with what-if and consumed by fear.
so hard your life as you know it might never be the same.
the old adage is true - the longer the agony, the deeper the pain.
don’t wait. do the right thing. do it as soon as you can.
I love this quote because it further reminds me why stories are so critical to sinking this truth - "God loves me; I matter to him" deep down into my heart causing me to believe it with my whole being. Unfortunately, too often this truth dislodges from my heart and floats right back up to my head! : (