Sunday, November 16, 2008

Electronic Origins

In the beginning, electronics were mainframes and psycho-pathology was talking to oneself. If you saw someone in the street talking aloud to no one in particular, you would think the person crazy or, if you were in the mountains of Greece, an oracle. Then, one individual who was both off the wall and extremely bright, perhaps a savant, decided that if cell phone technology were in existence, even a latter-day Socrates would be able to practice up for any issue of the day. And so, cell phones began.

Fast forward to today. We have untold permutations and combinations of pods, tunes, photos, and text messaging — which Apple usually develops and Microsoft steals — to keep us from boredom. The internet offers opinion, information, and references galore. Every computer has enough memory for all the text that a scribe could produce in a couple of lifetimes. Everywhere you go, people wear tiny earplugs attached to discs containing a few hours of music of their choice. They even have discs of nothing but classical music, maybe even mostly Mozart. Often the listener would hum along with the electronic recording.

One day on the New York City Subway, I heard a man humming , and occasionally singing out loud, along with the electronic music. He seemed completely immersed in his world of music, except … all the music was from his imagination. He was connected to no electronic anything. He must have been the son of that first cell phone man.