Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Something about Borges
I've been reading some stories by Borges and I'm going to write a paper relating his writing to modern day perceptions of reality and new media. In some way.
Some of my thoughts:
In "the Circular Ruins" there are possibly different degrees of "realness", and in light of modern technology it presents us with questions about whether more real, tangible things are of greater value. The character in the story creates a man in his dreams that becomes real in a perceptible sense, but is concerned with the creation being sad about his unrealness. When we create or acquire things like music, images and programs on computers, they are are less tangible and in a sense less real, but our perception of this kind of thing as valid property has changed, as evidenced by intellectual property laws and things like that. In the Web 2.0 era, digital matter has perhaps become even less tangible, with more network-based programs and cloud computing, the data is in a much less tangible place than the CPUs or disks we might have in our homes. The servers and networks we are connected to are invisible to us. We don't know where they are, and for the most part we have no idea how they work. As far as we can tell, the exist in a separate dimension from the real space that we inhabit.
I'm curious about how this generation is adjusting to this shift of consciousness and becoming increasingly entrenched in a different, less tangible world (not unlike the character in the story, whose life and work becomes increasingly invested in dreams as he sleeps). Is it worse to be entrenched in this digital world? Does digital property have the same value? In a brief moment, I could download an "album" of music out of thin air onto my laptop which is physically connected to nothing, whereas my father at my age had to go to a record shop and buy a physical record album. Does the record or even a CD have more value than an mp3? Digital sales have shown us that to many of the "digital natives" generation, it doesn't really. There's also a lot to consider about the nature of digital relationships.
So there are a lot of questions here but no answers. How do I feel about the "digital world"? Well, I'm kind of ambivalent. Personally, I'm trying not to live in the digital world so much. It's way too easy to waste time. But I can see the value and the power of it. I'm not opposed to using social networking and related technology. There's not really anything less real or less valid about ideas or artwork shared online.
(So, I did a google image search on "circular ruins" to find a cool picture, and came across the photo above on the blog of none other than the awesome David Byrne. It's a Mayan ruin from his travels to the Yucatan. He talks about this very story and how it relates to Mayan culture. I need to go back and check this out)