Monday, February 22, 2010
ephemerae1, fox, roll
First ephemera in a series of photographs of ephemerae . When I was doing chimneys I was in danger of being a Johnie head-in-air. Now my eyes tend to be fixed just a few feet in front of me.
As I watch the final quarter of an hour of The Virtual Revolution on BBC 2 - an account of the effect of the Internet on our lives. There stays with me, in particular, the distinction made by sociologists between two types of person labeled hedgehogs and foxes. Foxes dodge quickly between objects of interest; hedgehogs tend to pursue one idea at a time. Research into Internet behaviour, perhaps not surprisingly, shows that younger age groups, brought up with computers at their fingertips, are more fox-like, while older people veer toward hedgehoggery. This is not the first time that the hedgehog and the fox distinction has been used to make a point. When I read War and Peace for the second time, I followed it up with a study of the novel by Isaiah Berlin. In it, Berlin invokes the proverb of the fox, who knows a lot of little things and the hedgehog who knows one big thing, in describing Tolstoy's point of view in the novel. His conclusion, in the context of War and Peace, is that Tolstoy was a hedgehog who thought that he was a fox. When it comes to the Internet, we are invited to ask ourselves whether we are hedgehogs or foxes. At first, I think that I am a hedgehog, but I now suspect that I am fox, who thinks that he is a hedgehog. Meanwhile, whether you are a hedgehog or a fox, you can't help being amazed, as Aleks Krotoski, presenter of The Virtual Revolution reminds us, that The Internet as been going for only 20 years! We are fortunate to be living at the beginning of so dramatic a transformation of awareness and knowledge.
In The Grove I see coming towards me a man, clutching in front of him a cylinder, half his height, which resembles a huge roll of lavatory paper. When I get closer, I see that it is a roll of bubble wrap. As I watch him disappearing into Mount Sion, I imagine him going home, unrolling his bubble wrap and indulging in an orgy of popping the plastic bubbles, surely one of the greatest and least celebrated of pleasures and indulgences.