Backward and Forward

I was a sophomore in high school when America entered yet another war, and I remember sitting in the back of my parents’ car on the way to a church service and hearing on the radio that what had become known as Operation Desert Storm was in full swing. We went home that evening, and I turned on the television to see coverage of what was transpiring on the other side of the world. I had never been cognizant of my country being at war before, and I felt all of the anxieties and emotions that went with it. I didn’t know where to turn as news channels were concerned, and I remember settling on CNN, simply because that was the one that I could think of and find first.

The network sort of stuck with me. I remember how the programming changed through the years, as I watched it nearly every morning, especially after I finished college. I don’t watch much live news programming any more, as cable is a relic of a bygone age in our household. Still, CNN remains a primary source from which I get the headlines, usually via phone or tablet somewhere between breakfast and the end of the morning commute. Taking the time to watch a program in the morning really isn’t so much a luxury that I have any more.
It’s interesting to reflect on how my news watching has changed over the years. I transitioned from cable, to podcasts, to streaming live coverage, to reading it within a mobile application. The progression has seemed so natural that I really haven’t even thought about it.
Until the most recent update to CNN’s iPad app, though, which now launches with the sound byte of James Earl Jones proclaiming, “This…is CNN”, apparently a network-wide return to its roots. Hearing it took me back to random evenings in high school sitting in front of the television. There was a segue from this into a general memory of spending weekday evenings watching television with my parents, and the feeling of safety and family that such a memory invokes.
Now, I’m more than aware of the studies linking regular television viewing to degradation in family communication…we haven’t let our daughter watch television until nearly the age of two. The memories of doing so with my parents, though, remain a wonderful recollection for me today.
I wonder if our daughter will experience anything similar, as watching broadcast programming is such an increasing rarity. I don’t think that there’s anything missing in that experience, per se, but I am curious as to what events that Karen and I consider commonplace will evolve and form wonderful memories for our daughter…and maybe that she’ll even nostalgically blog about later in life at some point. That will be beautiful news to me.

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.