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Of Aliens & Ancient Greece

23 Jan

Electra Receiving the Ashes of Her Brother, Or...

Image via Wikipedia

“For centuries philosophers and theologians have debated what it means to be human. Perhaps the answer has eluded us because it is so simple. To be human is to choose.”The Outer Limits

I wouldn’t normally think of juxtaposing Sophocles with little green men, it just happened to work out that way.  I was reading Electra tonight and reflecting on how little we had changed in so much time, how still relevant his work was, marveling at how much I identified with the characters.  I had to admit too, that it did remind me for just a moment of reading science fiction.  The places and the names, the traditions – all so foreign to me, it could have taken place on an entirely different world.

I was sitting in my parent’s living room at the time, and after my dad went to bed I started reading aloud to myself, because… well I guess there’s still a bit of the drama geek forever inside me.   The TV was still on, tuned to whatever station my father had snored through before he traded his recliner in for his bed.  It wasn’t really bothering me as I was rather engaged in my reading.  But, then the sportscasters came on.  I was now annoyed.  And for some reason instead of turning the thing off, I flipped down a few stations to something less obnoxious.

I stopped on an episode of The Outer Limits, mostly because it was quiet compared to the ranting from the sportscast.  It was halfway through the show, but suddenly I found myself going back and forth between the two, watching the show, (an episode involving alien abduction) when it was on, and switching back to my performance of Electra during the breaks.  (Yes, these really are the sort of things I do, when no one is watching).

I have to say it was a rather odd and giddy experience.  The show, with its oddly compelling aliens weaved through themes of  fear, violence, pain, sacrifice and ultimately what it means to be human while the play tackled many of the same ideas.

“My acts untimely and my words unmeet.
But your hostility and treatment force me
Against my disposition to this course.” – Sophocles, Electra

Both stories culminated with dire choice. Sacrifice.  Untimely deaths.

Aliens. Ancient Greeks.  How very little we have changed, and how very much I wonder if we ever will.

The Sound of Silence

7 Jan

Braun HF 1, Germany, 1958

Image via Wikipedia

Last month I had my cable, which I spent most of the hot summer months, semi-addicted to, turned off. I hadn’t been watching it for the most part over the past few months and I was just paying far too much for it.   Cool on-demand features and all.   I’ve gone without TV before.  For a year on my mission, and for a time in New York.  I enjoy reading, writing, listening to podcasts and music and actually having conversations with people.

But I’m starting to feel it as a different experience this time around.  I live alone, for one.  Which wasn’t a factor on either of the other occasions. Any work I do is from home. And living far enough away from the rest of my friends and family to make popping over for a quick visit a bit unreasonable, I find myself at home, alone, a lot. Phone calls have been almost entirely replaced by texts, emails, and planning via Facebook.  I’m feeling a bit like an island that the waters of the world roll and rumble past.

I suppose I’d gotten used to at least having the background noise of voices rambling on from time to time, making the place feel a bit more…lived in.  There’s almost an eerie reluctance to sit in my living room now,  where it seems the lifeless thing should be chattering away.  But after I think about it for a while, I decide that it’s nice to have one less distraction.  One less thing camouflaging the reality of my life.  It’s good that I now notice that I spend so much time at home alone.  It makes it easier want to make plans to get out of the house and visit friends or even look forward to the social hum of grocery shopping.

I wonder when technology started being such a substitute for the human connection.  Immediately, I suppose, but it seems to have grown exponentially in the past decade at least.  We feel connected, through our networks and our updates and “knowing” what is going on with everyone we’ve ever met. But are we? And, what will the far future hold? How much is the human race really capable of changing before our nature forces a revolution of sorts? Random thoughts.  I know.

As for me and my little experiment… I’ve decided to keep the television unplugged until I no longer miss it anymore.

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