The New York Times has a few random columns that pop up from time to time, probably on a regular schedule that I just don't pick up on, and today it's worth talking about. Verlyn Klinkenborg has a column called "The Rural Life" that often paints beautiful still lives of his farm and the animals that he observes, the structure determined by Nature that the farm abides by, and some other romanticized farmy stuff. Its great to read, certainly a break from the global disaster that the world seems to be stuck in, if not meant to serve as something more. He wrote a book recently about a sea turtle, to mixed reviews.
Anyways, there is also sometimes a column called "The City Life," which never really interests me. It's a similarly romanticized take on all things New York, and I often just dont connect with the stuff. Today though, Lawrence Downes writes about recording to wax cylinder, and it's enrapturing. Is that a word? He notes: "It's staggering to think that lungs and plucked strings could vibrate the air, wiggle a stylus and capture a song for 100 years on a fragile thing that looks like a toilet paper roll."
Downes makes the point that this is not a case of luddite reactionary anti-technology denial; rather, an aesthetic and consequently visceral experience arises out of the specific technology of wax recording. The absence of electricity and wires and digital intimidation changed the entire experience for him. I wonder: is Progress such an imposing force that it refuses to acknowledge the value of what's become outdated? Is dated-ness itself a result of an insatiable appetite for novelty? Why is it that anyone who prefers the "warmess" of "inferior" technology is accused of pigheaded closeminded ignorance? I don't mean to say that this column is ignorant; in fact, I believe it is quite the opposite, though I am not confident that's the way it appears to many readers.
Why is it, though, that advanced technology is endowed with automatic approval, merely by manifesting a desire for innovation? And why are those who speak out against innovation ultimately sequestered to a cariacatured old fart? Is it a result of the obvious fact that new technology is more lucrative? Or is new technology more lucrative because it's a more inborn cultural instinct?
Anyways, wax cylinders, man. It sounds like fun to me.