Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The End of the World


As I’ve known it, that is. Someone in my school reported that a pre-schooler didn’t know what a postage stamp was. I myself finally switched to all-electronic announcements for my annual workshop series— no more Kinko’s trips and printing labels and stamping flyers with both real stamps and my return address. An annual ritual (most of the time, three times a year) that took hours and hours and cost over $150. Too strong to say I miss it, but there was a concrete satisfaction in pondering each name on each label and watching the pile of stamped flyers overtake those unstamped. Then going to the mailbox and sending them off with a kiss. There were certainly things I liked about it.
I still am asking people to send me the clipped-off registration form with a check through ye ole snail mail and am starting to feel the pressure to get Paypal. Don’t think I’ve lost students yet, but perhaps the day will arrive when the inconvenience and trouble of writing a check, putting it in an envelope, writing the address, affixing the stamp and dropping it in a mailbox may just feel like too much trouble for prospective young Orff teachers.
Yesterday, we had a discussion at the school staff meeting about kids wanting Kindles to read instead of books. For some with specific learning issues, it made some sense, but then there’s the new Kindle with games— guess how much reading will get done on those Kindles? A generation growing up without the physical sensation of a paper book in their hand or the possibility of smelling it years later as it ages is a sad prospect. One International School I visited boasted that by next year, they will have removed all the books in their library and gone wholly electronic.
We’ve recorded our school Orff ensembles for the past 30 years, with a collection of 16 cassette tapes and 12 CD's. These past four years, we recorded the kids, but got too busy to complete the process and make CD's. Still we hope to “get to it,” but most people say, “Why bother? Who buys CD’s any more?”
And so it goes on. Like everyone, I appreciate some of the conveniences and efficiencies of the electronic takeover, but I don’t think it’s mere nostalgia that has me longing for concrete objects to hold in my hand and manipulate. CD’s with liner notes to read and discs to put in a machine, stamps to lick, pages to turn, flyers to fold, checks to write. It’s a physical, sensorial loss. I don’t think the same way without my hand involved and other senses activated, I don’t appreciate things the same way—hard to get attached to a bodiless tune floating out in cyberspace. I don’t value things the same way— no need to carefully shelve it, it’s all out there in the Cloud.
And then there's this Blog. I once made a Kinko’s book of some “greatest hits of my Blogs” and that felt great. Still think I may publish something like that, because I do feel that in over a thousand plus blogs, I’ve occasionally gotten it right in a way that’s worth preserving in a more concrete form. And yes, I can still access it and read it again online, but it just ain’t the same. And though it may exist somewhere on Blogspot, no way that I know of to index the entries or group them alphabetically or easily find them. But even if there is, I just want to read it some day holding it my hand while lying in a hammock, with nothing to plug it or charge up. Yes, I do.

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