Monday, 4 November 2013

welcome to the machine

welcome to cyberspace, I'm lost in the fog
everything's digital I'm still analogue
when something goes wrong
I don't have a clue
some 10-year-old smart ass has to show me what to do
sign on with high speed you don't have to wait
sit there for days and vegetate
I access my email, read all my spam, I'm an analogue man.

the whole world's living in a digital dream
it's not really there
it's all on the screen
makes me forget who I am
I'm an analogue man . . . 
what's wrong with vinyl? I think it sounds great
LPs, 45s, 78s but that's just the way I am
I'm an analogue man

turn on the tube, watch until dawn
one hundred channels, nothing is on
endless commercials, endless commercials, endless commercials

I am aware of the recent arguments and disagreements with Spotify but I must admit that, although not a regular user, I occasionally enjoy the opportunity to listen to music on a whim. And I really do listen to music on a whim.

Tonight whilst "working" I have capriciously felt like listening to Ravel's Pavanne by Joe Walsh, Ralph Vaughan William's Lark Ascending and Tim Hart & Maddie Prior's Heyday. Okay, maybe not that eclectic but definitely "whimsical" in  choice. And they've got Peter Warlock stuff on there too! Perhaps tomorrow. All this stuff is there - I could spend hours lost there in Cyberspace looking for stuff to listen to. It's all free, too.

I have on many occasions spoken of myself as an "oik". By that I mean that I was born in Middle Row in Stevenage Old Town above a tailor's shop, raised in a council house, went to a Grammar School because of the falseness of the 11+ and worked in Country Houses, factories and Insurance Companies (excuse me whilst I spit). My father was a security guard (after being made redundant from a fairly good factory job fitting conveyor belts in car factories) and my mother was a life-long barmaid. Somehow, I guess, something approaching "culture" rubbed off on me. But I've always been an oik deep down. But I do listen to some Classical Music and I do know a little bit about Art and Literature. These things can be learnt.  I enjoy good food and I can tell a Malbec from a Merlot. Just about. But ask me about guitars and strings and things, then I really am your man. But I'm still an oik at heart. I still get caught out mis-pronouncing unfamiliar words and Latin names. But the internet is my personal teacher if I can just get used to sitting in front of it for hours and sift through the millions of pieces of information it offers.

The internet seems to be a great leveller. Self-educated oiks like me can continue our own education and interests despite not being well-schooled as such.  I can go and find out things easily and I can catch up with news stories, radio programmes and instantly get hold of information that would have been impossible when I were a lad. This is the crux of the matter - the internet is the Tower of Babel - in the Borgian sense perhaps. Everything is there. In his book, Why Do I Need A Teacher When I've Got Google?, Ian Gilbert realises that teachers are there to help us understand the World. Information is there but which is the right information? William Gibson has made a career on similar observations.

That's been my job, then. To try to help young people move through shark infested waters. Of course, the youth don't care - their's is the digital world. If it says so on the internet, it must be true. I've spent the last twenty or so years trying to give youngsters the benefit of my experience. But, as J. M. Barrie said, "I'm not young enough to know everything"*.

One day soon I'll accept this and just get on with finding out what I want to know.  And catch up on all sorts of music I've ignored over the past 50 years.

* No, it wasn't Oscar Wilde.

No comments: