Tuesday, December 27, 2011

End of a Year: Dreaming in 3-D

Marty invites you to put on the 3-D glasses
for his latest film.
 A couple of weeks ago I did something that was forbidden to me one year ago when I was still Van Winkled. I went to the Century 21 Cinema and took in a newly released film.

My son and I bought tickets and a box of buttered popcorn. We settled back in our chairs and put on 3-D glasses for Hugo.

What's in the Box?
There's a scene in this latest Martin Scorcese's movie (based on the Brian Selznick hybrid novel/graphic novel) that makes me think of what it's like to revisit this blog after choosing not to post for several months.

Hugo Cabret and his intrepid girl partner, Isabelle, explore a room in the house of her mysterious Uncle Georges (Ben Kingsley). There's a wardrobe looming tall in the room and, guess what? The two youths detect a secret panel in the top.

After a precarious bit of balancing on a chair, Isabelle opens the panel and, yes! there's a wooden box secreted there. As Hugo watches from below, Isabelle eases the box out but uh-oh! it's heavy and suddenly! the chair topples, the box hits the floor, the lid separates, and papers fly all over the room.

Hugo: The box reveals its secrets--all the thoughts and visions of one man.
A discovery is made. Each sheet of paper is a sketch for costumes and scenes from early movies.

Revelation: Uncle Georges is the once-famous French moviemaker Georges Melies.

This is startling news because Melies, after early successes in the movies, is thought by some to be dead. No one has heard anything from him since shortly after the Great War when he quit making movies.
Uncle Georges intrudes upon the scene. A defeated and frustrated artist, he has responding by withdrawing and hiding away the wellsprings of all his work--these pieces of paper meticulously filled with ideas and sketches.

He picks up a piece of paper, looks at the children, and crumples it in his hand.

Van Winkle Redux
Coming back to this blog is a bit like opening Uncle Georges' wooden box. In this case the box is stuffed with posts someone diligently produced for 52 weeks when he was sequestered from all news, weather, sports and entertainment.

The person who posted here called himself "Van Winkle" and further protected his identity by never naming where he lived or worked.

One year ago: Blog readers could see my shoes, but not my face.
Van Winkle knew almost nothing about what was happening in the larger world (except for a few leaks that got through to him), but he was a fairly persistent observer of the minutiae of his life.

I can go back and read about his impressions of his ficus tree, holes in his T-shirts, a concrete cherub named "Reginald" on his patio, his dog Bullwinkle, a red piece of paper snagged in a bush in his front yard.

He also relived intensely at times his youth in Alaska, and he made more than a few attempts at finding what is humorous in the surrounding commercial and social side of America.

I'm fine with what Van Winkle wrote. I'm not going to react like Uncle Georges and try to destroy my posts or hide them away and try to forget them. However, I've begun to look back on my experiment with a deepening perspective as I try to answer the question, "Was it worth it?"

Trying to Reclaim the Old "Normal" 
I've had most of the autumn of 2011 to reintroduce myself to the world of news.

Like a fisherman setting out again on the news sea, I've been able to reel in as much (or as little) of Reality as I wish.

So I indulged myself...

As you probably know, there's been quite a bit going on, even in just the past 60 days:
  • Politics (the rise and fall of Herman Cain! Rick Perry's oops! Newt's surge in the polls!)
  • The economy (payroll tax holiday debates! Black Friday! Internet Monday! Mega Monday!)
  • Historic (the U.S. leaves Iraq, North Korea has a new leader, Steve Jobs dies)
  • Sports (the Angels buy themselves a super team, Tiger Woods finally wins a major)
  • Entertainment (Mel Gibson's record divorce settlement, the new iPhone introduced  us to Siri)

The Future?
Even though I don't want to go back to my unnatural state of one year ago when I, in effect, buried my head ostrich-like in the ground, I have reached the following conclusions: 
  1. Reality, as constructed by what we call "news," is not so great. More, it's not even particularly necessary for successful living. There are other realities all around us, realities that teach, nurture, and inspire.
  2. News is a product that is constantly shoved at us. Producers of the news shrewdly choose what they think we will grab us most emotionally. This is not the same as choosing what is news-worthy.
  3. Because news appears to be "free" it is easy to consume too much of it.
  4. Is news free? I don't think so. It taxes us emotionally and intellectually.
  5. Most news stories will soon be forgotten. They are not worth following in the first place.
  6. A few news stories do have historical import, but it's not necessary to watch them unfold and be analyzed to death day by day, hour by hour. One would do well to catch them at the beginning and at the end.
  7. There's a news paradox: The most useful news usually isn't in the headlines. What we really need to know tends to be the small bits about human triumph and tragedy. These stories are typically reported by lone journalists, not well financed news crew with vans with a satellite dishes on top with a feed to a network anchor.
  8. Big news (essentially useless) tends to drive out small, useful news--to our own detriment and diminishment as human beings.
So, based on what I learned during my newsless experiment, and what has happened since, how do I propose to move forward with my life in 2012?

Ah, that is a good question. A little voice whispers in my ear, "Save it for another post...but this time don't wait so long..." - a.h.