Friday, April 25, 2008

An Old Versus Modern (Postmodern?) Friday Five

At RevGalBlogPals, Singing Owl writes:

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.
As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live

My iPod. I not only listen to music on it—whether in the car, in the garden, or when out on a walk—but also use it for audiobooks, keeping my photos with me (instead of those chunky picture inserts in my wallet), and keep my calendar on it. Aside from my glasses (without which I can’t see) there’s probably nothing I carry with me more than my iPod.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?

Cell phones, especially textmessages on cell phones! Before cell phones there wasn’t the expectation that I’d be accessible 24-7. Before cell phones (especially blackberries!) we didn’t have constant interference on the church PA system. Before cell phones, I could work in my garden or go for a walk without being interrupted by business calls or children’s texts (of messages that they want me to know but don’t’ want to talk about).

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If
so, do you use it (them)?

I own, but almost never use, a Walkman cassette player. And I own a record player which I periodically use to listen to records that I haven’t been able to find on CD or that sound better to me on vinyl.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something

I find it exciting and, once in a while, scary. There’s a lot of new possibilities (good and bad) to weigh in the new technologies that are being developed, a lot of amazing things to experience and experiment with, and SO MANY things to learn how to use. I’ll never be a native in this new world but I love seeing ways in which we can become more of a positive global village because of the changes taking place. After all, without this rapid change, I’d never be able to have any contact with folks from RevGalBlogPals.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus
points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.

The wonder of time on the front porch. Ray Bradbury has a wonderful description of front porch days in Dandelion Wine:

“About seven o’clock you could hear the chairs scraping back from the tables, someone experimenting with a yellow-toothed piano, if you stood outside the dining-room window and listened. Matches being struck, the first dishes bubbling in the suds, and tinkling on the wall racks, somewhere, faintly, a phonograph playing. And then as the evening changed the hour, at house after house on the twilight streets, under the immense oaks and elms, on shady porches, people would begin to appear, like those figures who tell good or bad weather in rain-or-shine clocks.

Uncle Bert, perhaps, Grandfather, then Father and some of the cousins: the men all coming out first into the syrupy evening, leaving the women’s voices behind in the cooling-warm kitchen to set their universe aright. Then the first male voices under the porch brim, the feet up, the boys fringed on the worn steps or wooden rails where sometimes during the evening something, a boy or a geranium pot, would fall off.

At last, like ghosts hovering momentarily behind the door screen, Grandma, Great-grandma, and Mother would appear, and the men would shift, move, and offer seats. The women carried varieties of fans with them, folded newspapers, bamboo whisks, or perfumed kerchiefs, to start the air moving about their faces as they talked.

What they talked of all evening long, no one remembered the next day. It wasn’t important to anyone what the adults talked about; it was only important that the sounds came and went over the delicate ferns that bordered the porch on three sides; it was only important that the darkness filled the town like black water being poured over the houses, and that the conversations went on and on…. Sitting on the summer-night porch was so good, so easy and so reassuring that it could never be done away with. These were rituals that were right and lasting…”


RevAnne said...

Great #5. I remember my grandmother's front porch. I think a return to private/public gathering spaces like the front porch would be good for all of us.

Shalom said...

One of the things we loved about our home was the front porch (selling this house now, hence the past tense) - but then again, it was built in 1910. I can imagine #5 perfectly on that porch. Great quote.

Singing Owl said...

OOOooooh, thank you for number five! I had forgotten who said it, and in what book, but that passage made a profound impression on me and I never forget the basic feel of it.

Seems almost unanimous that we hate call phones!

Counselor in Process said...

We had a front porch-later screened in during one day by my uncle and his brothers-which made it useable on hot nights. it was wonderful. Listening to the baseball games on the radio.

The Swandive said...

Your #5, your writing is like I can smell the air with you. Just beautiful.