Friday, January 11, 2008
Reading the Past
I've been reading a lot lately, as I tend to do when I have lots of work, but also there have been lots of things I want to read, mainly memoirs, and, oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, they have much overlap and are starting to blur together. Not so oddly because I do tend toward the bohemian lost soul memoir of the female persuasion, though sometimes just bohemian, sometimes just lost soul, but almost always female. The coincidence that was not planned at all, as one would expect, given that it is coincidence, is that several of these books take place in places I've been round about the times I was there, and it's an interesting experience to revisit my own social geography, though I was never quite so bohemian or lost, though the scheme of things and relativity come into play here, as some people find me quite bohemian and lostish, well, not lost so much, as, hmm, angst-ridden, perhaps, but I feel, on the whole, quite mainstream and privileged, especially compared to the people about whom I like to read, and of whom I often feel jealous, though it is quite unacceptable to be jealous of people's hardships, yet hardship often comes with a good helping of apparent glamour, which is always quite irresistible to me. The other thing that strikes me is the difference technology and wealth have made over hardly a generation. The 60s, 70s, 80s which so fully shaped me were, really, as different from now as pre-automobile or jet plane. To plan to meet someone in a foreign city on a certain day and have no idea whether they would be there or how you would find them: I did this, but now it would never happen because you'd be popping into internet cafes or even opening up your laptop to track your exact coordinates several times a day. Going to the same place every day to find your friends--no longer any need, for we have our cell phones. And then there's the way cities have changed to the point that I have no idea what you do if you're young and need a cheap apartment. All the funky corners we lived in, the group houses and dingy apartments and mattresses on the floor: now all gentrified and condos and rich blond people with Bugaboos. And I wonder, does it really matter to remember all that?