I've been thinking that the phone's a failure. A bad invention. It doesn't fit us like a tool should fit the hand. Should want to be reached for.
Texting's the proof. Who talks more than they text? How many fewer calls are made today than ten years ago? Who has a land line? Who uses it? How often have you seen people carrying tablets that can text and tweet and youtube but have no phone to speak thru.
I take pictures of phone banks in airports. Now art installations. Artifacts. Sculpture. Signs and a trace.
What I mean is we like to write more than we like to pretend someone's right here when they're not. The disembodied voice is discomforting. It always has been, a subtle evil we let become necessary. "I can't be with them but....at least I can hear their voice."
The nearness of but the lack of that is awful. With the phone, the industrial age made of all of us Orpheus listening to our Eurydices, but unable to touch or even see them.
Texting's the return of the missive, the notes of Cyrano or Madame de Vicomte on steroids, Lee's pleas to his cavalry arrived on time, everyone from Herodotus to Edith Wharton dashing off a note and giving it to their courier, the IPhone.
Only difference is they move now with no less celerity than that of thought. That's the chorus in Henry V and I'm sure he would have been very happy not to have been speaking in metaphor. Hell, Romeo would have lived alongside his Juliet for decades. The friar's note would have arrived in time and left them fat and happy, two kids together in Mantua.
Which makes one pause......someone told me there's a comedian who has a routine called "of course of course of course.....but maybe..." IE yes we should rabidly leap to the protection of children who might have nut allergies of course of course of course we should......but maybe if you're gonna die when you eat a PEANUT maybe you shouldn't survive at all... Etc .( Pardon my HBO ignorance.)
So yeah it's great that our culture is returning en masse to an embrace of the written word. Kids, grown ups, grandmothers all text like mad- Hell Seamus Heaney's last words were a tweet - the Latin for "be not afraid" I think- and our phone calls are reverting to continental usage: how the English of a certain generation used to converse "Hello, I'll meet you at Charing Cross at 5, goodbye" - the phone's original utility was its speed not its sentimentality. Radio was for ships to be saved by not to hear hearts beating. The Internet was made to co-Ordinate artillery fire and to call in air strikes on the button or trade swaps in the nanosecond before your profit went from 2 million to two.
We made email have a heart. We realized it's just mail delivered at Cupid's speed and who hasn't since the Greeks or before wanted their words heard ..or seen and made aural by the mind of their beloved - in the time it takes to pray for such a thing?
But maybe......there's a reason why people who get what they say they want exactly when they think they want it end up getting laughed at by the Gods. Made into fools and playthings. Tied to rocks, fed to birds, pitched headlong out of a golden chariot and into the sea.
Maybe Romeo must die and Juliet after. Maybe there's something more to be gleaned there than "God if only the mails worked better in 15th century Italy everything would have turned out the way it was supposed to. What a lesson!"
The simplest way to put it is I'm glad there's a send button. You can wait. You can - even now - reflect and review. You can edit.
You have time.
And time isn't just money it's .....charity.