When I launched Exquisite Eons last year, it was as a cry of protest--against a culture that valued digital experience, usually filtered through an electronic device, over real life. I didn't intend it as a denial of contemporary existence, but as a way of marking and preserving our Dinosaur Values.
Back in the 1960s and early '70s, when I was in absorbing the various strains of counterculture in grade and middle school, the book Be Here Now, a 1971 volume by Ram Dass (formerly known as Richard Alpert) was a seminal guidebook to spiritual awakening. The concluding section of the book is called "Painted Cakes Do Not Satisfy Hunger." Without getting into the metaphysics, I believe that today's painted cakes are the facsimiles of lived experience that people create with their selfies and photos documenting their travels through everyday life. On the face of it, it seems harmless, like the snapshots of old. But those photos establish a distance to what should be an intimate encounter.
I recently attended the Michelangelo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All I saw around me were people photographing the art as they swept through the galleries, never stopping to truly look at what was in front of them. The importance of attending such an event is to see art "live," a direct transmission, as it were, by the hand of a genius. No smartphone photo, no website, no book can reproduce this. And I can assure you these photos were made primarily to share as a souvenir on some social media outlet. Look! I was there!
Yes, you were. But you weren't... paying attention, that is.
Dinosaurs, we remember when a Xerox machine (which didn't produce smelly mimeographed or coated copies) was completely amazing. And how wonderful to have a crisp copy of something indistinguishable from the original. But the copy isn't the whole story. It's not the original.
Let's always take the time to stop and remember to be in the moment. Today, we call it mindfulness or being present. Be here now.