I need justification and validation.
I need diplomas and certificates.
I need grades and reports.
I need finding and awards.
I need a paper trail of achievement.
I need proof I was here.
I need justification and validation.
Each day I wake up and feel different. Today I feel young. This is something that happens fairly often. Maybe it’s my height. I am not tall, though I am not very short either.
I am not short enough to necessitate the use of creative camera tricks to make me look taller, something that is done for Al Pacino and Tom Cruise. I am 5′ 8″, which puts me in the middle. There are however a lot of people taller than I am. Taller people make me feel young, even if they are they themselves are younger, though I feel vaguely young and old in that instance. If I was taller I would feel older, I am sure of it. There are steps that one must not take to prevent aging. I will not buy shoes with big heels to make me taller. It would be artificial and while others might not know I would. I would know and I would be older, though not really.
I remembered last night with brutal clarity why I stopped writing. On a stage at an open mic night stood writer after writer, each speaking to a generally supportive yet ambivalent crowd. A number of things leapt out at me as they recited their wares.
One, their poems were carbon copies of each other. Their images were pure stock footage; waves in the ocean, moonlight shimmering through a window.
Two, they were blunt. They were straight ahead no-nonsense.
Three, they were infused with a pop sensibility; earnest, naive and shockingly bland. Perfect for the angst-ridden masses.
Four, they were read with a hip-hop, rhythmic bounce. The first one who read paused at certain words, drawing them out before continuing on. I had heard that style before -many, many times. Then every poem afterwards sounded the same, the way white men and women do when trying to sound black. It wasn’t as if this was happening in a white filled vacuum. There were a number of black men and women in the crowd. At one point, a man read a poem and of course it was in the same style as all the others. Yet his flow (it wasn’t a reading so much as a flow, its all about the flow now, the flow of information from one node to another, from my fingers to your eyes) did not sound authentic. It sounded like a white man trying to sound black. The difference was the man uttering the words was black. Things just didn’t seem right.
Then it hit me: I had deemed the entire scene suspect. I didn’t believe anything that was said. Each poem was a high-minded attempt at greatness and each a was an utter failure. Their common mistake was that they did not go with the flow, they didn’t follow the current’s path. They regurgitated that which was there.
The reason I stopped writing is because I started to criticize my work the same way that I had criticized those who had taken the stage that night.
Fairly or unfairly I made that characterization. As in Hollywood, once one is type cast, one can find it very tough to break out of that mold.
An image transmits a tremendous amount of data to the individual. Language parses that data out into a coherent stream. Language is the program that crunches and churns away generating reports in the middle of the night. Language creates art with a viewpoint; it is an act of sub-creation by its mere existence.
It is amazing that I am not even 26 and I am constantly feeling “old.” Being one who works in and cares about technology, it is easy to feel this way. Take this web site for example. Earlier this morning I discovered a problem with the publishing system that produces the blog area of Sevensquared (which is the web site you are currently on silly). I couldn’t resolve it on my own so I went to the product’s web site in hopes of solving my problem. After perusing the support forums for over an hour, all I learned is that my knowledge about coding is miniscule when compared to the many others who have posted to the site. Now, I already know this but it is still annoying to have it pointed out to you. I knew in the back of my mind that my coding skills were just okay. Now I am under the impression that they may be downgraded to so-so. I read posts from users who customized their code in ways I never thought of, like adding server-side includes and customizing certain modules. Once reading their documentation I get it what they did. The reason I feel old is because fairly (or unfairly) I have decided that the people who made these alterations are between the ages of 14 and 18. When I was their age I was playing Dungeons and Dragons in Ed’s basement, ordering Bigfoot pizzas from Dominos, not altering, modifying and developing PHP code. It’s like kids these days, at least kids who are interested in IT, have a 10 year start on people my age or older. God help me when they graduate from college.
To continue on my rant about those a decade younger than myself, last night I went to an all-night LAN-o-thon at Web2Zone in Cooper Square and got my ass kicked by, yes, you guess it, 14 – 18 year olds. I was playing Counter Strike with two other 25 year olds. We put up a valiant effort and in some cases, Erik and I (we were playing on the Terrorist side together most of the time) did quite well. On average however we got killed, both literally and figuratively. The reflexes and hand eye coordination these kids had is incredible. While I grew up on videogames, they weren’t like these. I would safe to say that Atari and Nintendo were just a tad different from Quake, Unreal Tournament and Counter Strike.
While playing, Erik and I were joking around, he saying that the Bush Administration wouldn’t be too happy to know that there were terrorists running around in NYC, I saying that he was “a terrorist’s terrorist, a terrorist among terrorists, the model terrorist, etc.” This is a test of the electronic monitoring system. This is only a test. Let’s see if an NSA supercomputer comes across these zeros and ones. I really wonder is the NSA is sophisticated enough to flag this entry. My guess is that they are. I’m already waiting for my doorbell to ring…
You are reading the first entry of my very own web log. Hopefully, 100 years from now a researcher, in his attempts to learn more about the late 20th and early 21st centuries, will discover these words on a server somewhere. I hope he or she finds what I wrote to be interesting, witty and relevant. If not, oh well, because it was interesting, witty and relevant to me.
In honor of my first step, a poem by Mr. J.R.R. Tolkien:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.