Tags: Time Radio
Domestication of the Past
The future is uncertain: that much is certain; and being a product of the present, it could be said that the present, the now, is chaotic; otherwise it could not bear the uncertainty that is characteristic of the future.
But what of the past?
The past is solved. There is nothing new that can happen in the past because it has already happened. Every action has been spent and though all its consequences are still unfolding and some have not yet even begun to unfold we may say that the only energy of the past is (to borrow a term from classical mechanics) only latent energy which affects us in the now.
Now here is an important distinction: there exists a past which actually happened, that much is clear. But there is also a past which we understand to have happened. The past which actually happened is as rich in culture and diverse, chaotic action as the now. But the past we understand to have happened is more-or-less flat: there is hardly any dynamicism or any force of will. It is as though Napoleon were only born to become Emperor, as though the sole purpose of the Tsar's army was to combat the French. The problem is this: we rarely are able to disconnect two pasts into two seperate nows. We may even apply this generalization of the past more specificaly to an individual. Here's where things become keenly applicable, and it's where I began to wonder at this quirk of human nature myself.
You can see this quirk manifest in a multitude of places. Nostalgia, the rose-tinted view of the past, is, I think, one of the most interesting places to inspect.
Here's a fun experiment: go outside and steal someone's laptop.
Crack open iTunes or whatever bullshit software people are using these days and search through the music library. Well, what did you find? Please e-mail a directory listing (I'm a little curious too). But (really depending on the person you robbed) you're likely to find a rough smattering of these things: radio top 40s from the past few years and some shit their parents listened to when they were the same age (which is, again, just the radio top 40s from a different decade). There's something to be said about the pitiful nature of music engineered for radio play (I'll need to study up on what exactly engineered for radio means in the 21st century anyway) so I'l save that for another time.
Often the music these kids listen to has a time and place. When they put it on the music transports them back in time and space to whenever that song was popular. Often this is said to be a "simpler" time than the now because that moment in time has already been solved: that is (for example) the feeling that you know you were going to pass that class, that you were going to break up with your significant other (but it was okay because you found out (later!) you weren't really compatible anyway), that you were really going to be hired to a well-paying job after several months on a slowly diminishing severance package. Although there was uncertainty, it has all evaporated now.
Even I'm guilty of this kind of nostalgia: when I put on Now, now's Threads I am immediately flown at light-speed to that tiny, smoke-stained hotel room in Tokyo and any time I put on any bass-music there I am in the crowd at the Virtual Self concert in Akasaka.
This immaturity of being is comforting though. Because we are unable to cope with the chaos of the present, so that we may not be over-whelmed by the reality that NOTHING IS GUARANTEED we have domesticated the past and bastardized its real character into some hideously simple shape that even a child could understand. And we insist we're not kidding ourselves!
We look at the sequence of nows of the past but all we see is what we understand to be the solved picture. There is no more ambiguity in the past, but every action, the sum of human effort at the time, it was all in agreement toward some common goal, the construction of the present.
Are you scared of the now?
The question is irrelevant, any reply insufficient.