Offbeat 13 November 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is on the way. Apparently it involves Luke Skywalker’s light sabre, and possibly his severed hand. It will be one of my milestone moments, same as the prequel and sequel trilogies, but I expect the cinema here will probably show it in 3D, one of a series of persistent denials of pleasure, given that I don’t have the same visual acuity in both eyes.
I suppose I will have to wait for the DVD, as I do with most major releases. Perhaps there will be a comic. I know there is a novelisation that can be pre-ordered on Amazon, to coincide with the film’s release. Given the visual feast that is Star Wars, I won’t be going there.
In the mean time, as a card carrying Star Wars geek, I have been delving into the Star Wars universe through the omnibus comic collections. There’s a vast amount of material. I started with Knights of the Old Republic and Zayne Carrick, set 4000 years before the current series, and am currently making my way through the Clone Wars series.
The comic series have their moments. Master Yoda’s philosophical attempt not to get into a battle on some or other planet sticks with me. The story arc in which dark Jedi Quinlan Vos infiltrates Count Dooku’s operation also sticks. Other than that it’s a series of ongoing moments that light up some or other thrill-seeking structure in my brain. I hope it doesn’t get old too fast.
I am addicted to the sensation of thrill. My brain needs to light up regularly. If it doesn’t I sink into some kind of sluggish torpor with side orders of depression and dissatisfaction. I could survive that torpor in winter, or on a rainy day, but in summer it is too hot and sweaty to sleep it off comfortably.
I struggle to find thrills now, so a seam of stories like Star Wars is something to be mined voraciously.
I can’t easily sit without something feeding into my head. When I was a kid I used to play with toy cars or Lego with the occasional movie matinee thrown in on a Saturday afternoon. Television came along, with hordes of series, but that also wore out. In my twenties, there was an endless series of soap operas played out in bars, but the alcohol became dangerous and the cast of characters became boring.
Fast forward to the Internet and social media. Of late, I have realised that Facebook is a danger zone. After a couple of years the penny has finally dropped, and I realise that it is a place of intense loneliness. The memes are repetitive. Selfie posters are so desperate for attention that they post belfie shots and try to justify them with unrelated, unrefined mimicry of wisdom. If you don’t knows what a belfie is, google it for a true glimpse of the hideous sophistry that is going down in the collective soul of humanity. People, it seems, are able to make arses of themselves, without any sense of irony.
I haven’t posted anything there in a couple of days now. There doesn’t seem to be much point in saying something in the hopes of eliciting a response. The response is virtual. Although there are human hands on keyboards, it is not the same as the presence of flesh. And like those bleary eyed nights in bars, there is the aspect of soap opera, for which I no longer have much time.
Something has gone amiss in all of this: a sense of self. I can not sit alone, by myself, unaccompanied by some kind of device input, for much longer than about 10 minutes. That comes at an ugly cost I realise. I lose my own self-awareness in an incessant stream of personal assessments based on media inputs. I do not spend enough time on personal reflection.
It’s an addiction that I have referred to a couple of times. The neurological science of the thing is becoming more apparent now. Journal articles on the perils of screen time are showing up with higher frequency, ironically feeding the same addiction from the same perilous media stream against which they caution.
I have a challenge. I need to find comfort on the kitchen step, doing nothing, thinking less. I wonder if I will make it.


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