Posted on December 29, 2007 - by MG
Being a writer of fiction I find that my natural propensity to daydream has now become a completely justifiable way to spend my time. I even get to give it diary time:
Daydream over a primo soy milk mocha in Summertown Costa.
I don’t read newspapers or print media much: to quote Comic Book Guy from a Simpson’s episode I recently glimpsed, “I get my news from the Internet, like any normal person.” I don’t watch mainstream TV since we got SkyPlus – we program everything and then watch, often 3/4 episodes at a time, months after they were aired. (I haven’t seen the last 6 episodes of Life on Mars or Doctor Who yet…)…and I certainly don’t watch the news on TV. For us, SkyPlus has completed removed any notion of watching TV at a certain time (i.e. when your show is on, or when the news is actually on).
YouTube and blogs have eroded my attention span whilst on the computer, so that I am now addicted to short entertainment breaks during the working day.
I read The Spectator once a week, but skip the book reviews of very intellectual books that I’m unlikely to read, of art exhibitions I’m unlikely to attend, of operas and plays I’m almost certainly not going to see. And the bridge column… And since the Speccie stopped doing the one page review of the week’s news, I have only the vaguest notion of what is going on in the world.
Really I’m no different to when I was a scientist. I had my head down in science then, like most scientists. It’s a very intensive life; no matter how hard you work at it you’re forever behind in your reading. And I don’t mean about the real world. Forget that – who has the time? I mean the tiny field of your expertise. If you’re lucky it’s a matter of reading 5 or 6 high-impact papers per month. If you’re in some mega-trendy field that could be more like 20.
Once in a while I plug back into the world and it’s a revelation.
This week I watched BBC1 for a whole evening. I read a whole Saturday supplement of a broadsheet. I read Cosmopolitan cover to cover. The things I saw, heard and read! Pop music and the US elections and all the Big Ideas of 2007…fashion, makeup…and so much more.
I had this sudden flash of insight. For a few seconds the world made a brilliant kind of sense. I felt engaged – maybe once again – to the world that I normally wander through in a bewildered daze. I began to formulate ideas, felt the incipient scratchings of understanding…
And then it vanished, all of it, every scrap of connectedness.
Italo Calvino wrote a short story about this feeling. So I guess it’s not just me. Maybe we all wander around in this haze of awareness.
So who are all those people who walk around so confidently, who seem to know exactly what’s going on, how this all works and where to go for this’n'that and the other?
Is there maybe some podcast I can download that’ll scrape everything essential together; a quick guide for the bewildered, for fantasists like me?