Sunday, May 18, 2008

Once Upon a Time....

Everybody seems to harbor a wish that they'll be remembered long after they are no longer viable within reasonable expectation. The wish may go unspoken in ordinary life but it's there within us all, the wishing for some sort of recognition.

Modern technology now makes it possible for virtually everyone with access to a computer and the Internet to achieve their requisite "15 minutes of fame" as Andy Warhol once termed it.

Those with the right sort of mobile phone can also achieve this sort of transient immortality as well. I'm sitting here with Blackberry in hand even as I type this.

I'm not certain that this development is a good thing but with due consideration it's probably serving a purpose for those millions that wish they could stand in the middle of the busiest intersection they can find and scream at the passing traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular saying, "I'm alive! Look at me!". If they survive then they will be remembered for a while, most likely in sentences spoken to others saying, "There was a looney standing out in the traffic this morning screaming."

After a fashion this is recognition. Perhaps this isn't the recognition that author Terry Pratchette spoke of in his Discworld novel "Moving Pictures" wherein Ginger (one of the main characters) states: "I'm going to be the most famous person in the world, everyone will fall in love with me, and I shall live forever." but it's still recognition of a sort.

When I was in my teens I had a wonderful friend named John Heath who once told me that as long as someone remembered his name, told his jokes, and shared his stories he'd be immortal.

Over the many years since I've often thought of him, now long passed, and remembered his words. He wanted to write and told marvelous stories and tales of his youth. Unfortunately, it never happened as death overtook him first. I'll add one or two of his tales as this journal progresses.

In some ways we often wish to be immortal ourselves but usually in a more immediate fashion, more fame now and immortality later. However, immortality can come in many forms and journaling on the Internet can convey much the same effect as the more active "live forever" style that Ginger espoused.

In fact, Terry Pratchette's Ginger doesn't exist except in the minds of Terry Pratchette and his millions of readers but she's as immortal as anyone who ever did exist in real life. The mind doesn't make a distinction as to who actually exists in real life and who only exists in fiction. We know them or we know of them. It's much the same in many ways.

We all believe in the existence of many people whether they were as mundane as dirt or as famous as they could possibly be within the minds of mankind. We accept their actuality without physical proof other than that of the circumstantial sort. It's rather like believing in UFO's. There's lots of stories, some unsubstantiated reports, witnesses who claim to have seen them or been abducted by them but little actual evidence of their existence.

The same might be said of ancient gladiators from Greece and Rome. Writings, inscriptions on grave stones or monuments and a few skeletons provide some evidence of their existence but to those alive today it's all supposition.

In essence it's the Velveteen Rabbit theory. Belief in something makes it real. This applies to memories, objects, lifestyles and just about anything else you can name, animate or inanimate.

I don't collect coins but I often look at them carefully before I spend them. Some are quite surprising. Not so very long ago I was given a US nickel that was well worn. The US nickel of previous years was a particularly hard wearing coin. It takes many years of circulation before it shows appreciable wear from circulation.

This particular coin was notable for being dated 1941, the year of America's entry into World War 2. After I got home I sat down and examined it carefully and wondered where it had been on the fateful day that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Did it buy a newspaper with a 6" headline screaming "Pearl Attacked!" or "War Declared!" or maybe it was spent to buy a loaf of bread or even something less integral to ordinary life. Sixty-seven years ago that coin was new and since then there have been many events and people that have made irreversible changes to our lives and lifestyles.

The internet and easy immortality is just one of those changes.

This blog is a place to post things that I think about, some pictures of places I visited and the random post concerning people and events in essay form. If it happens that you, the reader, visit and enjoy part of it then I've added to your life in some way and hopefully that way will have been good.

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