Living in flesh in the digital age
I have similar feelings from different times of my life playing music with people - which is also very physical, also very much about what one is doing with breath and body. And how it is impossible to experience online.
What a thoughtful essay. In the early days of the pandemic I walked between four and five miles each day, two of them with my wife and the rest by myself. We rarely saw, let alone met anyone else in these jaunts and walking up a gentle slope or down a steeper one made me acutely conscious of my body. It also brought back memories of how much we'd walked in Salzburg or Pt. Reyes, California. Yet I hadn't quite viewed the body as a memory store, which upon reflection I realize even the simple act of massaging my head and hair did carry me all the way back to childhood evenings of my mom and other women in our family in India, having an evening ritual of detangling, oiling, and braiding hair in our backyard whilst trading gossip or tales, something I share with my own daughters and family now!
Your point of view so well describes the new reality. Totally agree with the unfortunate social consequences brought in by the new technology which will never replace the human connections. Lovely essay Irinus, a real pleasure to read. Thank you for sending it to me.
"...how thoroughly we have been convinced that it’s our duty to keep self-optimizing and self-improving and self-disciplining, at all moments, right to our dying day."
this line hit home, particularly because i am in the midst of some massive self-optimisation right now.
All of this was great, but "Naval Club of Toronto" really hit me.
thank you for speaking these things, for tuning back in to the body for the information it freely provides yet seems only valuable when data-fied.
Lovely thoughts, thank you for sharing them. I'm old enough that the digital life is only a small portion of the whole. At first, it was novel, as these things are, but lately I find I'm more interested in spending my limited time left in the physicality of nature and the real world. I do wonder about those younger though...
I assumed the cost was in the kinds of relationships we have with others — to what extent we are connected to people, embedded in a community and a place, able to communicate by all the means human beings have, with gesture and facial expression and tone of voice and touch. I think too that a deep sense of place is crucial to a sense of self?
Just yesterday, I decided that I would go for an hour-long walk. I was inspired largely because during spring break our family spent a week in Amsterdam and The Hague, and I ended up walking and walking in the mornings while my wife and children slept. And my body remembered how much I used to love walking, moving. It remembered how awake and alive I felt. It remembered how much I danced when I was young--rock, disco, Swing, even a few classes in ballet and modern. I walked again this morning, and though I got a hefty step count, that wasn’t what mattered. It was the attention you wrote about, not just from being in my body, but also of consciously feeling the space *around* me. For me, that kind of movement brings presence; it’s a way of meditating, like doing tai chi. And as wonderful as online interaction can be, I’m determined to prioritize and hold on to this physical presence.
Beautiful and very evocative essay, thank you.