Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy April Fool's Day, Everyone.

It becomes harder and harder to maintain your anonymity in a day and age where technology pervades all but the most shadowy corners of our day-to-day existence. Where once our leaders and luminaries were memorialized in song and story, now there are the cold, hard repositories of video tape and digital data archives to forever remind us of every blemish and abscess in the historical record. How well served was American popular culture by its macabre fascination with the late Heath Ledger, or Anna Nicole Smith?

In its purest and most human sense, memory was never intended to work as it does today. Memory is a function of the mind, a lens that is warped and scratched and gradually sandblasted until the objects of its focus are changed somehow fundamentally - sometimes for the worse, but usually to be viewed in a warmer and more diffuse glow. It is the nature of humanity to forget, and to render a happier, or at least a more absolute, history with the unearthing of old and treasured memories.

The benefits of today's technological conveniences cannot be denied. A child born any time this century could quite conceivably go from kindergarten through college (and beyond) with an entirely intact archive of every essay, every artwork, every test and every term paper they have ever completed. Computerized records and backup systems all but eliminate the concern that personal vital statistics or identity documents will ever be lost. It's easier than it's ever been to track down friends long forgotten, and acquaintances long fallen out of touch.

But the vaults of our digital storehouses can only provide the iciest of containers for what we believe we know, or knew, about our own pasts. The lens of a video camera is largely objective, but that can be too objective. The text of a paper handed in for an eighth grade English class is merely a text, even though its very existence is circumscribed with the themes of growth and change and teenage struggle. In essence, we have created nothing more than a more sophisticated means by which to preserve more sophisticated markings on cave walls.

Time, of course, ultimately prevails over all of us, and even the reinforced walls of human archives will eventually crumble, giving rise to newer and more reinforced walls. For many of us, it will become our singular obsession to document the passing of our own existences in as high definition as possible. But for anyone out there with the strength of character to take up the call, I urge you to cultivate the all-too precious resource of your own nostalgia. Remember the good times, and let those memories fall naturally into disrepair and decay. Let nature and time run their courses as you glean from the essence of what's left behind the very best and very worst things that you can. Let your villains become even more dastardly, and your heroes soar to grander heights. And, above all else, try and remember this blog for how amusing it normally is, rather than for the fact that I was completely unprepared for April Fool's Day 2008.

Happy Chanukah.
-the staff of you are the only person not reading this blog.

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