The end of Santa Monica Boulevard in Silver Lake in LA has about 20 rows of shops.
Despite being in the geographic region defined in popular local mid-20s-30s tacit knowledge as “the place to be”, implying a form of similarity, a sort of organic kinship, the shops, the houses, the apartments all look really really disconnected.
Disconnected like my own housing unit from my neighbors’ housing units. In 8 years in Silver Lake, I had never been to a single neighbor’s house, not even within the 4-unit complex we lived in. I didn’t really patronize any of the local businesses except the Cambodian donut shop and Tacos Delta.
Despite not seeing my neighbors many living arrangements and not seeing the local businesses, I’ve been struck by how different, disparate worlds could exist within each separate structure.
Different, disparate worlds run and overrun by networks, compromises, and his/her-stories.
And within the structures themselves, there are rooms. Rooms have their own histories…like what happens in the employee backroom stays in the employee backroom. Same thing goes for the restroom, but most likely not in the pleasant hush hush episodic way you’d want to tell but not tell other people.
The infinitely separate structures mean something to some people, but never meant/occupied more than a hashy pixelated dot in my stream of consciousness. Yet they still exist, their networks and modes of operation continue, and happen at the same time as me.
I don’t focus on what could mean the world to someone. And they probably don’t focus on what means the world to me.
* * * * *
Focus is the keyword.
We only experience things at the human level. At the “human level” meaning our five senses of taste, touch, smell, hear, and see. We have our experiences mediated by that. There is no real “objective” level, panopticon-like level at which to view things. You either focus on one thing or you can’t. For example, you can’t see a cell with a naked human eye, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that it didn’t exist before the microscope and before you learned to call it a “cell.”
Technology has enabled us to enhance our seeing and hearing senses and has allowed us to outsource our memories.
The computer, the internet connection helps us do the latter two, we “see” and “hear” lots of events that are not within our immediate physical vicinity: a US Marine getting acquitted from raping a Filipina woman, the shit at Abu Ghraib, water access and shortage problems in other countries.
Technology helps make it possible to see and hear these things.
What we see and hear is mediated by our “consciousness” and as adults we filter out those things based on prior experiences. The seeing and hearing of stuff over the internet helps facilitate a feeling, as if you can “touch” the experiences. The technology us make more connections to new peoples, objects, concepts, ideas. Technology serves as a starting point for new paradigms of thinking: new syntheses, new metaphors.
With macro and micro-technologies, what we see and hear becomes even more infinitely larger and/or smaller than we could possibly ever perceive. Then more metaphors are made and more questions asked.
I wish there was just one ultimate question in the world to answer, and if you solved it, you’d get some prize, but the reality is much messier and uglier and happenstance to do that real neatly.