After listening to the show, I opened my book, A Year with Rilke (by Joanna Macy, another of your recent guests) to yesterday's reading, which is very apropos:
Orpheus, do you hearthe new sound,droning and roaring?Many now exult in it.
Though the Machineinsists on our praise,who can listenwith all this noise?
See, it rolls over everything,weakening usand taking our place.
Since its strength is of our making,why can't it serveand not possess us?
Sonnets to Orpheus, I, 18
Rilke wrote this long before the internet, email, iphones, and texting. What Krista noted in a car ride with her daughter ("Be with me," Krista requested. "I am," said her daughter, while texting.), I experienced with my father many years ago. I was at college, living in St. Paul, and I would go home to St. Louis Park on Sundays, but often wondered why I bothered. My father would be in the basement in his studio, and come out long enough to greet me from the bottom of the stairs, and then go back to work, coming out only when dinner was ready or the football game had come on. Sometimes I would go down to his studio and attempt to engage him, but he would continue working. Somehow my physical proximity was important to him; it was "enough aliveness," perhaps.
So, I'm not convinced that it's the infancy of this new technology which is the problem, though I am having trouble finding the words to explain what I mean by that. We seem to keep making things which, on the face of it, look like they are meant to bring us together, and yet also have the means to separate us even more. I am as "guilty" of using technology in this way as anyone. There are times when I would much rather leave a message on an answering machine than actually have the other person pick up and force me into a conversation. My father and I have this in common—we want to connect on our terms.
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