Monday, 4 August 2014

No Excuses

Monday. It's my day off. I lay in bed for longer than usual, until almost 7:00 am and watched an interesting little film on my phone. It was an Aeon magazine piece about a guy burning a stack of mouldering Encyclopaedias. He talks about the way the possession of knowledge has changed; once knowing stuff was the preserve of the moneyed elite and now it is accessible to all, for good or ill.

It was a beautiful Dunedin day when I finally got up. In the middle of the morning I drove the Portobello road with my second best camera and took a few pictures





It was one of those days when I know without a shadow of doubt that Dunedin is the most beautiful city in the most beautiful country in the world. The air was crisp and the low sun provided sharp edged clear light. It was impossible not to feel blessed. I drove a comfortable, powerful well equipped car on a delightfully twisting road. I listened to Palestrina's Missa Papae (I'm willing to believe there is music just as beautiful but surely none can be more beautiful)  on an excellent stereo. And I thought of that pile of smouldering encyclopaedias.

When I was a little boy I read Donald Duck comics. Donald's nephews. Hughie Dewey and Louie belonged to an organisation called the Junior Woodchucks and thus had possession of a marvelous book: the Junior Woodchucks Guide Book. No matter what knowledge or advice was needed on any subject whatsoever, the JWGB would provide the answer.


And I remembered that I now possess the Junior Woodchucks Guide Book and carry it with me everywhere. It's called a Sony Xperia Z1 Android smartphone. With the press of a few buttons I can have access to reliable information on pretty much anything I can think of. I can, within 30 seconds possess any musical album ever recorded or read any book currently in print or watch almost any movie ever produced. I can watch television or listen to radio from any country on the planet. I can have instantaneous communication with anyone I know.

So what do I make out of all this treasure and all of these possibilities? Do I expose myself to great ideas and mind expanding art? Or anaesthetise myself? Do I wrap myself in my existing prejudices or free myself from them? Well, a little of all actually. Unlimited access to knowledge really tells me where my interests lie. And faces me with my limits. The riches - physical, aesthetic, intellectual - that have been heaped on me are boundless but what I make of them falls back entirely on me. There are no excuses.

I drove home feeling  grateful and not a little sobered at the way the privileges of this blessed life face me with myself.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Lovely pics, I can feel the snap in the air. It's been a lovely winter here too.
One line jumped out at me…
"Do I wrap myself in my existing prejudices or free myself from them?"
You remind me to take more advantage of the information available, and not just to use it to self-justify.