14

I went under the house to clean out all the junk that we dump down there.  It started well.  I had the feeling of making a new start, and finally getting rid of accumulated, long defunct things.  Then the emotional tide turned and I ended up sitting on a stool under the house feeling itchy with sweat and defeated by nostalgia and cross with life.

The old TV for example.  Jesus it’s heavy.  A huge box filled with… well, frankly, I have no idea, but it felt like bricks.  Remember when flat screens were laugh out loud expensive, and everyone had to get some guy in to put an aerial on their roof, an aerial that would blow down at least once every five years?  My Gran’s TV came in a wooden cabinet, with a dust cover, and when you turned it on you had to wait for a few moments while it warmed up.  Along with the old TV I piled up the old VCR and the broken DVD player.  Even the DVD player is redundant.

It was the dumping of the CDs that caused the most introspection.  The first CD my mother and I bought was Nigel Kennedy’s Four Seasons by Vivaldi.  It was big in 1989-1990.  25 years of accumulating this stuff.  The so-called future of music.  Now almost totally irrelevant.  Of course I still kept about half of my CDs (including Nigel) mainly because they have memories, or because they aren’t on Apple.  A pointless act really when the devices you play CDs on are getting rarer.

Not that I am against the streaming of music.  I think it’s better.  It’s better for the environment in every way imaginable, and being a music snob who long ago realised that all the videos and album sleeves and bumf are just advertising distracting from the music means that streaming a song or an album is the best way to go.  But how much the mind that has been trained to believe in things it can touch craves to own a physical object; craves to hold an album, tape or CD in its hands?  Next will be the DVDs.  Why do I own so many?  What was the point?

Books are another thing though.  Reading on a kindle is fine for two things: (1) magazines and (2) books I won’t read even a small part of twice.  But the books that move me?  I still need them to hold, to flick through to the passages I love, to take notes from.  Books are more complex than music.  They seem to be almost three dimensional.  Not the trash or the ephemera but the meaty, interconnected stuff.  The stuff of another person’s mind reaching down into itself.

When civilisation collapses and the infrastructure breaks it does mean we won’t have any music.  We’ll just make our own I guess.  That will be nice.  Although I can’t sing so I’ll just have to join an African drumming circle like every other white middle-aged man who wants to connect with something both semi-spiritual and cool in the eyes of his peers.

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