Tag Archive: love

Johnathan Franzen delivered the commencement address at Kenyon College this year. It was a profound meditation on our relationship to the technological world of our own invention. Almost a Dr. Frankenstein and his monster story, Franzen shines a light on our near-romantic levels of fixation on gadgets and internet alter-egos. The harshness of his condemnation is tempered considerably by the dispassionate accuracy of his assertions.

Somehow Franzen manages to blend spot on critique of the narcissistic nature of a lot of social media:

We click the mouse and a machine confirms our sense of mastery. And, since our technology is really just an extension of ourselves, we don’t have to have contempt for its manipulability in the way we might with actual people. It’s all one big endless loop. We like the mirror and the mirror likes us. To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.

With breathtakingly frank observations about fear, pain and love

When you consider the alternative — an anesthetized dream of self-sufficiency, abetted by technology — pain emerges as the natural product and natural indicator of being alive in a resistant world. To go through a life painlessly is to have not lived.

The speech is one of the most thought-provoking investigations into the ramifications of our techno-universe and beyond that I have personally encountered. Every word should be read, savored and possibly read again. As much as I’d like to insert the whole thing here, clinking a link hopefully won’t prove so great a hurdle that you’ll deprive yourself of his brilliance. Franzen adapted his speech into an essay published in the New york Times OpEd pages last month. Do yourself a favor and find a way to follow that link.

If you dedicate your existence to being likable, however, and if you adopt whatever cool persona is necessary to make it happen, it suggests that you’ve despaired of being loved for who you really are.




That’ll be the Day

Who are you calling a dying city Newsweek?

Couldn’t be Grand Rapids Michigan! These guys were none too pleased to be included in a recent Newsweek piece on the bleakest cities in the land and decided to send a message to the media giant and their fellow Americans. Their medium of choice? A 9 minute, $40,000 music video set to “American Pie” featuring more than 5,000 of their citizens and a production that all but shut down downtown.

With almost 3,000,000 views on youtube as of this posting, it looks like they’re having no trouble showing the world how un-dead they really are. And really, it’s an important reminder that media outlets are in it to generate a profit like any other business. Bad news sells, even if it isn’t always the whole truth. Aren’t things tough enough without inventing more reasons to keep us up at night Newsweek?

Down but not Out! From Grand Rapids to America to the World!

Simple Pleasures

A pleasure seeker might most often be thought of as a lover of the finer things in life. That is, the ones we have all come to accept as finer; wine, chocolate, single malt scotch, cashmere, sandy beaches lapped by warm seas and exotic travel of any kind really are a few that come to mind. I’m sure no one wants to raise a serious objection to any of those pleasures, but in their pursuit we sometimes forget about the simpler things that can bring as much or more satisfaction.

For example, as I write, my beloved is strumming “Landslide” on a guitar, my pup is sunbathing on boulder in the yard, a lunch of soba noodles is bubbling up on the stove in a beautiful blue non-toxic pot from Le Creuset, the fresh sweet smell of tea tree and geranium is emanating from the bathroom I just freshened and keeping my mind relaxed and sharp, and an ever-growing flock of birds is clearing my yard of the influx of baby spiders spring has brought us.

Basically what I’m saying is that this moment gives me immense pleasure. The life I am co-creator of with my family gives me immense pleasure. The people and creatures I love are the greatest pleasure I know. Well, them and a fine lump of dark chocolate!

Photo by Heidi Hartwig