Thursday, December 18, 2008

this life

we took nicholas to the newly refurbished california academy of sciences yesterday. located in golden gate park in san francisco the academy re-opened in i think october or november after a long period when it was completely remodelled. anna and i have fond memories of the museum which includes a fabulous aquarium as we were frequent attendees when we were first dating. to this day our favorite fish is the sarcastic fringehead, an ornery dweller of the muddy bay floor who makes its homes in the detritus of the human world such as bottles, because the fish was both idiosyncratic enough to delight our sensibilities and was one of the first of our mutual discoveries.

it was a gorgeous yet cold day in the bay area. it was also wachovia wednesday at the museum which means that admission is free, sponsored as it is by wachovia. we wondered how long the bank would continue its sponsorship as the credit industry founders. nevertheless, the academy is a fantastic marriage of new and old. life in the 21st century is most certainly digital and centered on technology. the academy houses an africa wing where many of the old displays of lions and zebras remain. what has changed is not only decor but presentation too. rather than contenting itself to static displays of stuffed animals the curators also added interactive digital media to enhance their efforts. most notably was a small animation of elephants moving across the background of the zebra exhibit. so subtle was the animation it looked almost like the paintings it moved across.

i couldn't help thinking that everything is simply transmissions of information. the museum of the 21st century make that information by and thru video monitors, interactive software, and also the old static dioramas. so seamless were these transmissions that we had to look at a display very closely to see if we were witnessing the marvels of technology or genuine life. the virtual is reality and so on. take for example the ubiquity of mobile phones. everywhere i go nearly everyone i see is tethered to one either by texting or by talking. and i mean everyone, young, old, male, female and so forth. no longer can one declare the use of this technology as part of the meanness and crassness of youth. technology is now simply part of life.

well then, that feeling was brought forth again as we did some christmas shopping at a newly remodelled shopping mall today. it is now a place of video imagery and mobile phones. texts are read on monitors including menu boards. i am simply stating facts and am amazed by it all. being a poet in the 21st century means having to know your way online. you could still as a writer reject technology but i think you'd do so at your peril. i think there are many more excellent online pubs than there are print pubs and i wish that editors of say the best american poetry anthologies would get that. maybe then those anthologies wouldn't suck so hard.

at any rate, i don't know if there is any time in human history that is the best time to live. i suppose whatever era you happen to occupy is the best. however, this is certainly one of the more interesting eras, i think, as virtual technologies blur outer realities into brand new wholes.

and with that i'll toot my own horn for a minor note and say that one of the best online review pubs is now live. editor and poet extraordinaire eileen tabios' galatea resurrects #11 is abrim with reviews by, among many fine poet-reviewers, tom becket, lars palm, john bloomberg-rissman and eileen tabios herself who reviewed my collaborative chapbook with jonathan hayes hallucinating california.


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