let me seal this wax with my ring

7/24/11

It’s official, my laptop has suffered a total motherboard failure, and is somewhere in the skies above America awaiting a new brain. I haven’t had it since Thursday, and won’t get it back before Tuesday, which for me and my job, is a little like sending a hockey player onto the rink with Speedos and no stick. At first, I went through the usual withdrawal – where is, what am I, how’m I supposed to – but it was gradually replaced with… relief.

I don’t know if any of you have had the chance to truly UNPLUG recently, but if you can do it without anxiety, it’s really worth it. I know the concept of breaking the electronic tether makes me sound like one of those smelly dudes who absolutely swear their lives were changed by a series of barium enemas, but it’s amazing what returning to the physical world feels like by Day 3.

I’m a bit loath to admit this, but I think it’s representative of a direction I’ve been taking for a while. I’m beginning to lose faith in what “The Internet” seemed to promise us. I am organically losing interest in Facebook, constantly forgetting to check Twitter, fallen out of all the message boards I used to frequent, and only really care to hear what you folks have to say here on the blog (even though the summer has certainly quieted these fields as well).

This is not the fault of social media, or even a “failed promise” of technology, it’s just a creeping feeling that my friends and peer group may be bumping its collective heads against the limitations of what these things can provide. In essence, it all comes back to the tangible world, your physical community, back to analog.

Lately I’ve found succor in deeply analog things. I have become enrapt with gardening, especially with Lucy, where we try to grow weird things that require dirt experimentation. I have been building a lot of crazy shit (pictures forthcoming, you know, when I have a computer) with wood and machinery. I’ve been playing music on guitars with steel and nickel strings that require callouses and tuning. And I’ve been communing with old friends in person, seeing the way their eyebrows arch, their teeth, their unconscious tics and sudden bursts of hilarious inspiration.

In more pedestrian terms, I have found myself giving up on my well-documented wireless fetish and going back to cables. I spent a while at the farm rehabbing an old rotary-dial phone for upstairs, and even our internet in California is looking like this:

EthernetVenice.jpg

Yes, that’s a shitload of cables going to all parts of the house. It might seem ironic that a bird’s nest of Cat-6 ethernet cables is actually a step backwards, but it’s a rejection of even the newest wireless technology that gives us constantly shitty transfer speeds. I rarely use the wireless in the house anymore. Hell, I’m writing this blog on the computer we (sorta) left in Lucy’s room, an ancient laptop that doesn’t have any programs on it except Text Edit, powered by tiny hamsters.

I know I won’t always feel like this – I’m enough of a self-conscious flake to realize my little epiphanies rarely make it past the 3-month mark. But I can’t deny what I’m feeling right now. I love not checking Google News and seeing the latest unfathomable atrocities around the world. I love not knowing what cynical bullshit Republicans are trying to foist on America. I regard all cell phone calls and texts with suspicion, and being shielded from email feels like I’m back on my red Huffy bike again, with the whole neighborhood at my disposal.

Break out the carrier pigeons and telegrams, settle in for a long night on the porch discussing philosophy and sports, put on an album that you have to turn over after four songs. Is it possible to have an analog summer?

0 thoughts on “let me seal this wax with my ring

  1. Amy S.

    I feel you. In the last year, I’ve noticed too many days when I’m doing the technological equivalent of opening the refrigerator door forty-seven times, hoping something appears. I need to unplug. But, man, it brings up some serious anxiety for me.

    Reply
  2. emma

    Reminds me of my new favorite commercial advertising some Toyota car where the teenage girl is sitting at the computer talking about all her “friends” while she worries about her parents lack of “friends” while they are out mountain biking and having a great time and she is looking at some dog on her computer. I LOVE this commercial!

    Reply
  3. monheric

    I vacation on an island where, as I apologetically explain to my company, there is almost zero cell reception – so I won’t be able to use the Android phone they gave me. And the cottage has no electricity and no phone. Maybe text happens if you stand next to the right grave in the cemetery(!). After a day or two of being there – analog, fractal, breathing reality emerges.
    “Analog” – how quaint it is now that the premier SF magazine of the 50’s and 60’s had that name.

    Reply
  4. Megan

    My analog summer is the smell of sweat, chlorine and bug spray. It’s the sound of bike chains, cicadas and feet pounding pavement. It’s the feeling of being so tired at night that I fall right to sleep. Going analog helps me fully inhabit my body and spend less time in my head. I’m loving this analog summer, and I’m not generally a summer lover.

    Reply
  5. Lee

    I love turning it all off! My main addiction is that email is on my phone but sometimes when I go on vacay, i disconnect it so that I just can’t see it. And will even turn my phone off for days at a time. Otherwise, I’m drawn to it like a moth to..
    And, I know you’ll think this is nuts, but I haven’t watched TV in almost a year now. I’ve read some books, talked to Suz, talked with neighbors and gone to bed early with my brain in slo-mo. It’s been great.

    Reply
  6. craighill

    your president’s approval rating just went down one point to 26% since you didn’t respond to most recent email poll. better log back on quickly…

    Reply
  7. Ian

    GFWD: I hadn’t installed Lion yet. When I get the laptop back in the next couple of days, I hope I can start from scratch.
    monheric, are you referring to Monhegan Island, by any chance?
    craighill – I’m vaguely happy with Obama being at 26% when all the other Repubs are at 18%.

    Reply
  8. xuxE

    nope. no analog summer here, just got an ipad2. but i am trying not to use it while i drive. i am really excited about an app that lets you use it as a second monitor so i can have more screen with my laptop. i need more digital! MORE MORE! MORE is MORE!
    sad i missed you in LA, but i will be back very soon and OMG that was the craziest pitching extravaganza, must tell you all about it! you guys will love it.

    Reply
  9. craighill

    i prefer to think of him as the dem’s mistake and therefore their prez. we sure as hell got blamed for and had to take ownership of bush. sadly, it’s a shitty job that no one worth a shit wants. pitiful considering all of the talent in this country.

    Reply
  10. John H

    It’s sometimes even better when unplanned. We spent a long weekend at a mountain cabin with friends in April. Our cell phones didn’t work and the wifi in the house was down, too. It was amazing.
    I actually read a book.

    Reply

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