Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Epoch!!

Here is a new year and all that goes with it. I have learned that writing/talking about things related to Time usually ends up confusing me and most readers. Time is a slippery thing. But, here goes ...

Life really seemed to move slowly at one time, now the years tick past faster than the eye can see. Which is sort of way to say "Dang, I is old", or more accurately, "I sure has seen a heap of Januarys and they all are starting to sorta seem the same".

For some reason, I've always liked the concept of the Chinese New Year, which is on a 12-year cycle, where one of twelve animals represents the year at hand. So that way, folks can say "hey, it's been a while since we had a year of the rat!". Plus the whole make-loud-noises-and-blow-up-fireworks thing came from them too.

What was new in 2007 depends on whether you knew about it or not. For instance, there is this thing on the Internets called "Facebook" which started in 2004, but which I was asked to join in the last few days of 2007, so it was new to me. Also I was asked to join another Internets thing called "Twitter" which was started in 2006 but was new to me in 2007. Bottom line is I joined both of these online sites and I really have no idea what to do with them or for them or to them.

Both Facebook and Twitter are called "social utilities" or "social networking" sites. That may explain why I am lost - I usually stumble in "social" activities. I do like the blogging groups I have joined and maybe my old brain can only contain the workings of blogging and not social utility programs.

So one challenge for me in 2008 is attempting to use facebook and twitter, but I know I don't shuck and jive as fast as I used too so it may well be 2009 or later before I can twit and book with ease. (I learned in 2007 that I use words which some folks do not understand, like "shuck and jive", but other folks have no idea what twitter or facebook mean, so I guess it all evens out. Words are tricky things.)

A new year is often marked by some by the announcement of New Laws Taking Effect. Perhaps it is a positive thing that Humans keep making New Laws in efforts to make the world a better place. Perhaps.

When I was younger, I often chastised older folk for not being able to adjust to the new. But I've learned that "new" is subjective. More likely these days, I chastise anyone for not being aware of the past or the present.

I was recently on a college campus talking with a professor friend and we did a wee "test" of students to see if they knew of famous people my friend and I knew about. They did not of course. Johnny Carson, for instance, was "a guy on TV once". My friend and I decided that the students knew little of American pop culture prior to Tupac Shakur.

Granted, knowledge of American pop culture is likely more trivial than vital information to have. Still, my friend said to me that his students seemed to have little interest or knowledge of events more than 2 years old. Had I been a student in the "test group" I'd bet I would have told the old geezers to get with the now and to heck with the old.

Some people have told me, over the course of my life, that I must have been born old. (No one tells me that anymore, though, they just see me as old.) Anyway, the experiment with my friend got me to pondering on the idea that I had grown up seeing myself in a context of Time and that now people grow up without such a context. For example I knew there was "old" music and "new" music. My parents had record albums by Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey and I had record albums (new at the time) by The Beatles and Jim Morrison.

However, today, people have MP3 players with songs. So it seems to me that not only do some of the younger folk have no context of the when of a song, they do not have the context of said song within an album. (Honest to pete, I heard an 8-year-old girl last year ask her mom what an "album" was.) A young fellow recently was asking me to listen to a song he liked on his iPod by Guns and Roses and I asked him what album that song was from and he told me it was on the Greatest Hits album. He sorta did not understand what I meant.

My professor friend told me that younger folk do not need context in their heads, no need of of personal knowledge of time and history - they just whip out their personal hand-held techno device and do a search to learn what something was or is, and then put the device away and they go about their lives.

Perhaps that way of a context-less life is better. I tend to see events repeating and repeating, with minor variations. But perhaps it is not better to see each event as unique and brand new as it might prompt them to think some event or some trend has never existed before. Most behaviors and trends have been around a long time, really -- religious and tribal warfare, for instance, has been around a long time and remains with us today.

Here's something I do know - it seems good to me to have a point in time where we get a "new" start. Wipe everything back to zero and start over. Still, it also seems good to me to have a knowledge of the number of times that you have started over.

I mean, there sure needs to be a start and an end to say, a football game, or it would never find a conclusion and conclusions can be more enjoyable than not having one. And after a whole bunch of teams play a whole bunch of games, it is fun to have the ones with the most wins play each other in playoffs and then pick an overall winner. Then you start a new season. As goofy as games can be, that process is still mostly fun.

All of which is one way of saying goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008.

And while most of the world focuses on the measurement of years, I have always taken some pleasure in the definition of points in time called "epochs." Here is what Webster's says in defining epoch:

\ˈe-pək, ˈe-ˌpäk, US also & British usually ˈē-ˌpäk\
Medieval Latin epocha, from Greek epochē cessation, fixed point, from epechein to pause, hold back, from epi- + echein to hold — more at scheme
1 a: an event or a time marked by an event that begins a new period or development b: a memorable event or date
2 a
: an extended period of time usually characterized by a distinctive development or by a memorable series of events b: a division of geologic time less than a period and greater than an age
: an instant of time or a date selected as a point of reference

And that's a level of vague I appreciate. Happy New Epoch!!