Friday, December 22, 2017

Back to the Future

Did you know I had a blog before there were such things as blogs? Neither did I, yet before I became a reluctant blogger I tried two brief stints as an enthusiastic one. My first attempt was at the end of the last century (I’ve waited all my life to say that phrase) and was merely a column on my personal Web site (remember when people had personal Web pages in the days before Facebook and MySpace?). It was entitled “rAnts and Raves” because it had these cool JavaScript ants crawling across the Web page. I know, but it was 90s and the Internet was new.

I ran across several of these posts locked in stasis in a time capsule and I thought I would share them with you over the next few weeks. Think of it as summer reruns in the fall. My first thought as I reread these words I penned so long-ago was, Wow, the more things change the more they stay the same. My second thought was, Cool, I don’t have to write a blog this week.

Back to the Future

An old college friend living overseas contacted me for the first time since our college days, and we began a series of correspondence on our different cultures and societies, as well as world events. As a result of my friend’s attempts to encourage me to return to my journalistic roots, I am going to try to write more frequent columns for this site, and while I doubt there will be a wide audience, at least in this medium I know my words will not end up as fishwrap. What follows is an excerpt from one of those letters.

February 11, 2003

I know I should return to journalism again. One day I will need to write some more, but these days I feel I shouldn’t write unless I have something important to say, or some audience interested in what I have to say. In that respect, I empathize with Rimbaud, who stopped writing at the age of 20 simply because he felt he had said all he had to say. On the other hand, my life has entered a period of hardship and difficulty, from which, if we are to believe accounts of the great writers and artists, the seeds of future literary endeavors may flourish.

Also, I look at the state of the world today, and it discourages me. Of course, I don’t see most of the world, just primarily American society, which is rather insular. I don’t know how the rest of the world views us, but I see our society continue to plummet to new depths. American students are ignorant of world history as well as American history, they are nearly illiterate, and cannot do simple mathematics. They have no appreciation for music, having substituted rap, with its offensive and misogynistic lyrics in its place. American culture, an oxymoron if ever there was, has elevated Ozzy Osbourne (an aging, drugged-out heavy metal rocker best known for having bitten the head off of a live bat) to male parental idol status. Our television news is packaged as entertainment; TV networks cover several “Big Stories,” such as the NASA situation and introduce them with theme music and snazzy titles, such as “Tragedy in Space.” It reminds me of when we were in Orlando and we saw the advanced preview screening of the movie Network (remember that? Bill Holden and Faye Dunaway). Everything satirized in that movie has come to pass.

So the generation that has grown up in this environment would probably not be receptive to anything I had to write about. But I will write again, I’m sure, because our words are one of the few things that outlast us after we are gone, and so in a way, enable us to achieve our own immortality. But enough philosophy for one night.

Pleasant dreams, my friend.

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