Sunday, 7 June 2015
Slaves to the rhythm
50 Hertz. Fifty cycles per second in a never ending rhythm of technology and boy it hurtz. The drum beats on and we march to it; slaves to progress and happily shackled to the oars. I thought that labour-saving inventions were supposed to give us more leisure time, but instead of slaving all day Monday over the washing, now every day is washing day. Instead of engaging in the creative pursuits we all secretly believe we ought to we create work to fill the time and avoid the perennially tricky business of creativity and confronting our abject lack of it. It seems we need to work; maybe work really does set us free and technology is the tool we use to manufacture our ‘freedom’.
Compared to times past we are vastly rich, so individual transport means that every day, on every road in the land, people pass each other to do the same jobs in towns fifty miles apart. It is monumentally stupid, this human need to make everything more difficult; there has never been so much paper used since the invention of the ‘paperless office’. The faster cars get, the slower the average real speeds become. Nine-to-five is replaced for many with every-waking-hour and always the relentless need to be in contact. Social media has practically killed off actual social behaviour for a whole new generation who think that their friends live in the shiny gadgets they carry around in their pockets. The whole of human ingenuity has come to this?
Even when we try to redress the work/life balance instead of simple, wholesome meals we explore imagined continental fripperies involving a hunt for exotic ingredients whose wasteful procurement and preparation is an experiment in how far we can stretch our capacity to imagine the emperor is actually clothed. Chicken, however you process it, turns out to taste much like chicken. And for all the pizzazz and elan deployed, the back garden is a poor substitute for the olive-treed taverna terrace and by the time we actually eat the booze has taken its toll and our reward for all the effort is a gargantuan hangover as we realise there is still work to be done before, er, work on Monday.
Thus I find myself, on Sunday, our traditional day of rest, engaged in a mammoth orgy of feeding the beast that is education. Instead of simply passing on from my head into theirs, by methods proven effective through millennia, I feel the urge to use all this marvellous technology to create wondrous materials of unimaginable sophistication to my didactic forebears who would have queued up for a go on the hand-cranked Roneo machine in the staff room. Today I can spend all my waking hours scanning and editing and pre-preparing material that my charges will appreciate no more than if I made it up on the fly and scrawled it on the board. The big difference is that now it is the teachers who seem to do all the work. This, they call progress.
Keep it up fellas, we've get to get to work...
The same goes, of course, for all of life. Where once we got up and got on with it, calling a spade a spade, if you will, now we have to employ a progressive vocabulary which seeks to describe the mundane as the extraordinary, the average as the superlative. All must have prizes and none must fail. Yet failure is often the spur that kick-started the success of our wealthiest, the shame that prompted endeavour and the price of sloth. So get your kids out of their lazy pits and get them revved up and trying; the economy needs feeding. Meanwhile it’s Sunday; put your feet up; I’ve got this