Monday, September 14, 2009

An Illegal Alien in mMy Own Landscape

Writing of your younger--very much younger--self, as you did in the past few days, reminded you of the nearly invisible line you stepped over when you entered the landscape of connectivity.  Unlike the landscape of puberty, into which you entered on a predictable time line and with predictable events, your ventures into the landscape of connectivity were tentative; there was no inevitability you could track--only occasional trespasses over boundaries of which you were scarcely aware.

The landscape of connectivity is that terrain where most adults live, each having a differing impression of the landscape, each having a distinct set of impressions, history, fears, pleasures, desires.  Living within the landscape, one remembers first encounters with individuals, with the surroundings in which those encounters took place, of impressions received and, most important of all, of associations with other encounters and experiences.  To those who had not thought the process through, Psych 1 gave us the trope, "free association," or, What do you associate with X?

This is not a recognition much less a confession of having had no associations in preteen years but rather an awareness that the associations were more often manufactured ones, associations imparted by others (parents, siblings, friends, teachers, adults qualifying as authority figures as, say, Mr. Pope, the janitor at Hancock Park Elementary School, or Ruth, who managed the stand across the street from Hancock Park Elementary School, where you ate lunch three to four days a week.  From Mr. Pope, across the chasm of years, you learned the association of not using too many paper towels to dry your hands.  From Ruth, you learned not to drink your lemonade too quickly).  Some associations came to you from reading materials.  (It is a rare time indeed when you think of or listen to the music of  Thomas  Wright "Fats" Waller, and you are not transported to that mid-December morning when you visited the spot where the newspapers you delivered each day bore the news of his death.)  

Now the associations come from events in which you were present.  Although your iPod Touch connects you to the Internet and other web-related programs when you are in range of a wireless hub (Peet's Coffee for instance, or Antioch or the library) and you are able only to access your music files otherwise, you are, at this stage of life and health, always within range of the associative cloud, linking you directly to your own individualized landscape of reality.  Thus you are the product of your experiences, encounters, and the associations they bring, influencing at every turn the way you respond to a stimulus, whether that stimulus be a thought, idea, person, place, or thing.  Thus also are you encountering other individuals similarly accoutered.  You are the alien in everyone else's landscape as they are in yours; the harmony you effect with them is another measure of who you are and, quite specifically, who you are not.

No comments: