Thursday, March 28, 2013

The More Things Change.....

First: seriously?
Obviously the big takeaway is holy crap I'm old (I was born 9 years after Please Please Me, but still), but I think there's a broader point about us olds not getting just how distant stuff is for The Kids Today. More than that, I also think there was a kind of continuity between people born, roughly, from the beginning of WWII until about 1993. The discontinuity here is the internet, a society transforming technology change.

First, let me say I grew up on the Bugs Bunny cartoons of the WWII era (and some much earlier than that).  World War II was as distant to me as the Crimean War (and I'd met my wife by the time Atrios was born).  Technology changed the world then, too.  It was TeeVee.  The internet was just another refinement of what that did to us all.  Before that it was radio, which arguably FDR used to actually make us a modern nation, not just an aggregate of disparate states (there were serious arguments during the Dust Bowl in the FDR administration to just let the middle of the country "go," to abandon it as uninhabitable and unfarmable.  Impossible to imagine that argument being seriously made today, but if you put it in the context of a "union" rather than a "nation," it begins to make more sense.  FDR, needless to say, rejected it).

Discontinuity?  I was born at the beginning of what came to be called the Civil Rights Movement.  I was born before Sputnik, before Mercury/Redstone, before Telstar, before the Atlantic cable that connected telephones between Europe and America.  I was born just after Univac and color TV.  Discontinuity?  Get off mah lawn, ya snot-nosed punk!

But this isn't a post about how the punk kids don't understand and need to get offa mah lawn.  I have a different point in mind.

To me, one of the points of historical research and criticism and to understanding the Scriptures as the work of human beings, not words divinely chosen by a deity to be Inscribed For All Time, is the understanding that no matter how much technology or culture may have changed (and technology is not culture, despite the premise of that post I linked to), human beings haven't changed all that much.

Well, that and the distance between "Please Please Me" and punk in '77, or the New Pornographers today, isn't even the musical distance between Bach and Mozart.  But that's another matter.

I used to think oldsters were old.  Now I know better.

1 comment:

  1. "[H]uman beings haven't changed all that much."

    Finding myself now on the receiving end of "My generation is different," I am more and more confirmed in how true it is. And how could I understand the Iliad, or the psalms, if it weren't? How very far away they are, how terribly different! But somehow I feel a kinship there that I can't feel with a video game character. Art creates a connection that mere contemporaneity can't. The fundamental things apply even as time goes by.

    On the limits of technological transformation, I come back to human capacity. The internet makes available to me hundreds of thousands of volumes of information. But, even with an average lifespan, I wouldn't live nearly long enough to finish reading the books I can see now on my own bookshelf. We remain creatures.