Saturday, 4 October 2008

the burden of bounty

I don't own an i-pod.
This is not a moral position. I am happy that music is out there, and that we can collect it and store it in vast quantities to use as we wish. I have no quarrel with the technology, either. Nor am I put off by people walking around bobbing their heads to sounds I cannot hear. Bless you all, I say, and the self-selected melodious diversity with which you surround yourselves.
But I don't want to join you.


More than anything else, it is the sense of oppression: the crushing burden of quantity. The idea of holding thousands of hours of listening in the palm of my hand puts me off. I like salted peanuts. But I like them in digestible quantities. A handful of salted peanuts is pleasant. A bowlful is delightful. But a roomful of salted peanuts is hideous. I know I don't have to eat them all at once. But the idea that I couldn't possibly eat them, even if I had a year to do it -- that's off-putting. Almost scary. To me, an i-pod is a concert hall full of peanuts.
And the fact that I have selected each and every one only makes it worse. I have contributed to my own oppression. Isn't there a Chinese curse about attaining your heart's desire? Something like that.
Imagine the most exciting hockey game. Tie score, end to end action, nerve-twanging tension. Great. But what if the game lasted for a year without a break? 24 hours a day of pulse pounding drama, day after day, week after week. You'd die -- or become so blase that you didn't care any more. Hockey would cease to be a source of enjoyment for you. I'd hate to feel that way about music. Have you ever sat in your driveway at the end of a journey, listening to the last few bars of a song on the radio? Kind of a nice moment, isn't it. But what if the very next song was another old favorite. And the one after that. And the one after that. And so on. You could run through a thousand tanks of gas waiting for your i-pod to stop playing songs you loved.
To my mind, there is nothing more delightful than stumbing upon a wonderful piece of music. A gem in the middle of a radio program, a song heard through the din of a party, a single cd in the middle of the shelf. The element of chance plays a large part in enjoyment. Considering that life itself is a happy accident -- whether you're an evolutionist or a theist, or a mixture, you have to agree that we're pretty darn lucky to be here -- I think it appropriate that my pleasures are equally accidental. After all, whose children grow up according to plan? Who sets out to fall in love?

8 comments:

Marilyn said...

So interesting that you should write about this,
because my sister just asked me if I wanted an IPOD for my birthday, and I just don't know the answer. She asked specifically about the IPOD touch where you can put photos etc. But who would even want to see my photos and why would I need to carry around a mini-computer when I have a laptop at home that can do everything the IPOD does? I think as you get older, you want less instead of more. There's less time to use everything,and tons of songs, photos would just be more clutter.

Richard Scrimger said...

I don't know if it's a youth-age thing. Lots of old folks own i-pods. They also own movie libraries, and collections of all the years of Friends or MASH or The Rockford Files. Not me. I'll watch what I can find, and if I can't find anything I like, I won't watch. RS

Anonymous said...

That's what I love about radio. I may choose the station but after that the song choice is random, never boring.

Sand

Anonymous said...

Richard Scrimger ! Give me back my shoes, you thief. If you haven't realized by now, the Asics you returned home with Friday were not yours.

I have your shoes, and I'll be using them since my back up pair is held together only by duct tape, thread, glue, and positive thoughts.

If you took my shoes to Slovenia or whatever European country I was told you went to, I'll be just a little peeved.

I expect my shoes to be returned post-haste and so help me if I have to break them in again.

Have a great day walking a mile in my shoes, because I'll be running several in yours.

I'll have my revenge and it will be swift and merciless you mildly over-pronating shoe stealing author.

I haven't read the entry I'm commenting on, but I assume it's witty and insightful.

Wishing he had his own shoes back,

A-Bomb

Will said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that while some old folks (your words!) do have ipods, they're less often chock full of 10,000 songs or whatever fits on one nowadays. At least in my dad's case, it seems to be more functional than about being able to cart everything around with you. He's got an mp3 player for hotels, and Rockford Files seasons because he happened to find them.

Perhaps that's just him, though.

Richard Scrimger said...

Thanks for the support, San. Chance is importnt in life, I feel.

Richard Scrimger said...

A-bomb, I have some bad news and some good news for you. Yup, Im in Slovenia (no apostrophers on this keyboard). And I am wearing your shoes. The good news is that the shoes are very comfy. Well worked in. I havent rolled over on my ankle yet either - I guess I dont pronate as much as I thought. Thanks, man. RS

Richard Scrimger said...

Will, you have tapped into my sense of thrift. If I had an ipod Id feel I HAD to load it up. Otherwise Id feel I was carrying around a steamer trunk with one pair of socks in it. And I was thinking of MY dad when I referenced Rockford Files -- not yours. Hes the only other fan of the show I know.RS