Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mourning the Past. Celebrating the Now. Reflections on this Information Age

We live in a wonderful age. Within my lifetime, I can remember futurists speaking of a day when we would have information and all of human cultural output at our fingertips whenever we require it. It is amazing to think that less than ten years ago, I would ask myself a question and that would be the end of it. I think it is what we used to call “wondering.” We don’t wonder anymore. All questions have an answer that is just a search-bar away. I don’t tell my kids about shows and movies I used to watch anymore; I show them what I watched.

On the other hand our information and art today feels less special. We are beginning to take things for granted. It used to be that we had a limited ability and time to discover a story. A movie would play in theaters and then be gone for years. It might air a couple of years later on television and that would be an event. Today, we miss a movie in theaters and have the opportunity to own it for viewing at our own leisure within weeks. We are about at the point where any story will be available on demand in our homes from the day it is released and for all time.

It feels like we need to make an effort to preserve the special nature of this art.

I still associate several of my favorite film stories with occasions. I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark as the first movie I experienced in a Drive-In. Years later, I took my first born to see it in a theater despite the fact that we owned it on DVD.

Rarity increases value. In an age where more and more is available “on demand” there are still some things that are hard to find, but for how long? And as long as they are rare, do they really measure up to the value we give them?

For many years, I had an invaluable copy of the time-lapse piece “Chronos” that could have fetched over $100. Now it is available everywhere.

I own a copy of “Fright Night 2,” on DVD that would sell for around $108 right now because it is unavailable. (It is not a great movie, but until they release it on streaming the fact that people can’t easily see it makes it more precious.)

I remember fondly an old telenovela called “La Invitacion.” When it finally becomes available, (if it ever does) I will watch it again. I wonder how disappointing it will be.

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