When an old guy reflects on his past, it always comes off as the pointless ramblings of a grandpa, freshly awakened from a dream, recalling his past.
The truth is, it isn’t always just mawkish sentimentality. Sometimes we’re overcome by the realization that each generation asserts that their imagined future will render all future imagination obsolete. Its a realization that compels us to remind them that any ‘imagined future’ is, by definition, a rainbow – just out of reach…that the real prize is what that vision motivates in us now.
What an ironic compulsion: Struggle to make plain, an ineffable statement about an unattainable reality! What’s the point? So they don’t end up with the same frustrating compulsion?
What I’ve chronicled in this blog as current passions are quickly aging and becoming anachronistic.
That’s normal. It’s the way time passes. The problem is that as it ages, it obtains a patina that makes it look more like older, more cherished memories that really are mawkishly sentimental. It makes it easier for me to justify boring everyone with all the outdated technologies I’ve played with.
Let us agree that once there were a bunch of kids (all gone now), as geekish as we are, who proudly called themselves “Radio Men” (Let’s acknowledge-and-then-bracket the fact that they were largely sexist, racist, homophobes who never questioned the order of their world).
The thing to carpe in their diem was wireless transmission of messages over great distance. It was the first time using something we couldn’t perceive with our senses in day-to-day technologies that everyone would use. Up until that time, all technological revolutions had improved transmitting power via pistons, gears, belts and wires. Now we were harnessing an invisible quality of light to change (and perceive the change in) the æther around us. It was applied theory for consumers.
It fueled the new tropes of science fiction and captured the same child-like wonder you find in Makespaces today. It built icons of a national character no less admired than those today. It spawned practitioners across the spectrum from enthusiast to hobbyist to student to theoretician. There were sights and smells, unique to that technology, that instantly jolted anyone from that era back to exact moments in time and states of excitement.
How is that qualitatively different than today? Not at all.
How relevant is that fact? Not at all.
All I’ve experienced will someday be relegated to the same dustbin as the fact that there was a distinctive quality to the optimism held by “radio men”. Unless I’m willing to take the time to write a thoroughly researched and peer-reviewed history, these should be set aside as anecdotes. They’re mine and they were fine but they’re of little importance to anyone but me. And I worry that they’ll pollute the optimism of today’s radio men.
I’ll include hobbies that are still popular but I won’t dig into all the hobbies of my mis-spent youth.