A Personal & Intimate Invitation To NowhereMonday, June 17, 2013
As I am about to finish my Vancouver Public Library Fast Read (you can get it only for one week and you pay a one dollar a day penalty) Delicate Truth by John le Carré I thought it might be a good idea to re read one of my favourite books. My eyes drifted to Arthur C. Clarke’s Rendezvous with Rama. I have written about this book here and here.
Then it hit me that the idea of a huge spaceship parking by our sun and when the spaceship is then explored by humans without ever being able to communicate with any of the inhabitants of the space craft (if there are any) had a particularly timely parallel with the much maligned (for very good reasons) facebook (note the correct lower case ). Humans by the end of the novel figure out that the ancient and extremely advanced civilization that built the spaceship is going (a few members of the civilization, perhaps) from point A to point B. The sun happens to be a nicely positioned gas station where the spaceship can fill up its tank with hydrogen or helium.
The humans, upon finding out that this advanced civilization does not give a damn about gnats that might be living on a planet, two away (Mercury and Venus) from the gas station, feel supremely and depressed and alienated. The sense of importance of a human supremacy on a planet fades to nothing.
To me this novel more than any other reinforces that we are nothing, came from nothing and are going to nothing. The idea is to take advantage of the interlude between those nothingnesses.
Now if I invite you to come to my house and send you an invite by the once normal stamped envelope, or resorted to a phone call, an email or a phone text you would not be expected to pay your way. An invitation is a chance to share with someone a meal and good company. I would reinforce here my opinion that an invitation and the act of inviting are personal and intimate.
The folks of the Rama came, parked and left without a hallo or a goodbye. In Spain they still have the saying of people who might come to your party and then leave right after eating without saying goodbye as, “Despedida a la francesa.” This translates to say goodbye French style. The origin of the expression came from Wellington’s Peninsular Campaign in Portugal and Spain. As the Wellington’s armies got closer to Madrid and the French lost a few disastrous battles, they left town “without saying goodbye.”
I happen to have 209 ‘facebook friends’. When I had a show at the Duthie Gallery on Salt Spring Island in the beginning of May I could have sent an “invitation” (a blanket invitation it certainly is) to attend my show. I did not. I still believe in the personal and individual invitation.
This concept that an invitation from a facebook friend is one of those personal and intimate invites is as far from that truth as the idea that an on line visit is equally intimate and personal. That all happened with the advent of the web page.
Vancouver Sanitation Department – Visit us at Vancouversanitationdepartemt.com. We will give you a personally intimate guide through our dump where you can enjoy those wonderful smells and watch rats scurry around.
How could a visit to a web page ever be a real visit? You don’t ring a doorbell. You don’t bring a pot luck dish; you don’t bring a bottle of wine. You don’t even do that perennial Canadian thing on the phone, “Am I getting you on an awkward time?”
“Yes you are. I’m having sex with my wife.”
So these social media invites to attend events, art shows, concerts, protest rallies, on-line petition signings, etc are all a sham. Those who manage arts organizations should realize pretty quickly that a facebook invite is an invitation to nowhere.
Next time try a phone call, or a personal email if you want to save on postage.