Peter Gabriel is putting out a new internet survival tool called ‘The Filter’. By visiting an online site and inputting preferences, this little tool will make suggestions as to what you might like in film and music right at this very moment. The idea is interesting to me, and I hope to explore just how the thing comes up with its suggestions. However, it has one serious drawback – I enjoy the search more than the results. True, there are times when i just want to hear music in a particular vein, but when I want to find something new, I typically want to find it by myself, rather than relying on friends or tools. I want to dip my hands into the wriggling, writhing life of art, music, and film, and see what my dirty fingernails can dredge up. I I don’t have to wade through the trash a little bit, I feel like I haven’t accomplished as much. And besides, I like drifting online into different vaguely related areas. It allows my mind to jump like it’s meant to.
The feeling of being ‘lost’ in web surfing or blog reading or any of the other ways to spend countless hours sifting online is not necessarily one that feels like a loss to me. True, I am most likely not normal in that regard. I have the intense focus, the kind of mental blinders that could keep me engrossed in the Weather Channel or even static on television as a child. True, it can cause your body to cramp in uncomfortable positions and even for meals to be missed, but so can 14 hours working on the next big studio project for my undergrad architecture major. At times, this focus allows me to concentrate exclusively on what I need to get done. And anything I’m focusing on that intently, whether online or in real life, has to be interesting.
Almost exactly opposite to this online losing of oneself is another pastime I admire, sitting by myself in the woods. I’m not talking about Annie Dillard Pilgrim at Tinker Creek observing and thinking and speculating to the extreme. I really mean just sitting. Maybe observing a little, maybe feeling the wind and hearing animal sounds or the movements of tree branches and streams. Maybe even thinking about profound things. Mostly though, just sitting still and letting the world move around you a bit, thinking in an experiential way that lets the moment pass and fade as a natural order of things. Here there is a losing as well, a sort of loss of conscious thought or at least a sense of progression in those thoughts. Again, like the search for new music and film should, it invokes a sense of path rather than start or finish.
Perhaps the desire to have these experiences is a female thing, or a lack of restlessness, or a strange way that my mind works. However, it seems I am more interested in the way filters work and my own non-logical filter of a brain than those others propose, no matter that I enjoy their music or appreciate their attempts to access technology in new and meaningful ways.