Collision of Worlds

I was spending part of my lunch break yesterday across the street from the building where I have classes, mentally adding to the ever-growing list of books that I would buy if had money (and will buy when I do…being a full-time student again has serious financial downsides).

The problem with being so passionate about an interdisciplinary perspective is that sometimes (or, in fact, often) you experience a collision of worlds. The subcultures of the disciplines that I’ve studied can be so wildly different that it’s difficult to reconcile them. Theatre culture and theological culture can be on opposite ends of the spectrum, for example. The literary world and the world of the Internet have critical disagreements on core ideas, such as how (or even if) we read.

I was struck by this yet again as I stood in the bookstore yesterday, lamenting the fact that I haven’t had time to read or write fiction at any substantive level in the last three months. And, while I am reading a great deal, Javascript or PHP manuals simply don’t create the same mental synergy, even though they are tools for creativity.

I liken it to my theatre experience in many ways (theatre has always been the lens through which I view the world). A great deal of my theatre experience during my undergrad days was as a designer. I acted very little, and only began directing within the last five years or so. Theatre design, whichever sub-genre you choose (I was mostly a sound designer, with occasional scenic or lighting flirtations) is very technical, but creative in its problem-solving. It creates a wonderful scaffold for the rest of the medium to do its work. Web development is much the same. I’m no visual artist, and, by extension, I’m no graphic designer, nor would I ever claim to be. The way that the web functions, though, requires similarly technical design and scaffolding, and its that area into which I’m (fingers crossed) making a career change.

I don’t think, either, that Internet culture has to be mutually exclusive of literary culture. The Internet is a communications medium, not a work of art in itself. It allows us to experience works of art more easily and even more fully, though, be it beautiful visual design (perhaps even of the website itself), or a wonderful work of contemporary literature, or anything in between.

That’s sort of how I reconcile the discord between the subcultures that I’m convinced only appears on the surface. When we dig deeper, we find, as always, that every discipline overlaps every other, and that we are always more alike than we are different.

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