Friday, March 29, 2013

The company of friends

Surfing the web is like being in the company of friends, the old man thinks.

Why, one goes from site to site visiting faraway places, meeting interesting people. Why, I can go from from the Taj Mahal to the sands of Zanzibar with a click. And I attend a concert by Lady Gaga or the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, for free.

Not a bad life for one who likes to travel and meet people, the old man knows.

Okay, it gets a little lonely. Surfing the web, the old man knows, makes one merely an observer. History is in the past and it can not be undone. No, the spoken word can not be recalled any more so than the arrow let loose from the archer's bow can be returned to its quiver. The old man can only watch and wonder at the foolishness of man.

Even the future offers little solace, its reality as ephemeral as the key strokes which create it. H.G. Wells' time traveler in the The Time Machine, suggested to his skeptical friends that time travel is possible, but for now, time travel is possible only in a digital world.

Still, all in all, web surfing is not a bad life.

The old man can always get up and go out into the real world, where he can get his reality check, stubbing his toe on a rock, just to prove that there is substance to the universe. Then again, where can the old man find a friend to exchange ideas with? Is it not better to be a James Boswell to Dr. Samuel Johnson?

And as Samuel Johnson said:
Catch then, [those moments]
O! catch the transient hour,
Improve each moment as it flies;
Life's a short Summer — man a flower,
He dies — alas! how soon he dies!
Winter, An Ode. The works of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1787)

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