An episode from 4/26/22: Tonight, I begin a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. It might as well be subtitled: How We Live Now, and along the way I take up things like technology, education, privacy, creativity, what it means to be an adolescent and what it means to be middle-aged, and so much else.
While these ideas have no doubt been wrung dry in many corners, I hope that my perspective makes them live again: that is, I write as someone who is not an influencer and is not famous, and I write for those who are just as hidden, anonymous, and perhaps forgotten, amid the perpetual attention-seeking (or just profit-making) nature of modern life.
The first essay (begins at 5:05) is called “Rediscovering the Hidden Life,” and it simply wonders why it is that we have been told (and why so many of us go along with the assumption) that meaning can only come from our participation in outward, public, or historical events. It is an unapologetic call to reclaim our own privacy and hidden life, our own grouchiness and weirdness, and it takes its cue from a quotation of George Eliot’s: “For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
The second essay (begins at 29:08) “Fame is a Vampire,” notices first how our culture and our own voracious enthusiasms are able make cliches out of things like Einstein’s hair, or Michelangelo’s David, or just the grunge rock I grew up with. But then, there is the realization that anything which we find truly meaningful (whether Renaissance art or rock ‘n roll) can never really be exhausted and ruined. Anything that is truly worth our time can be reinvigorated and reinvented.
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