I love receiving parcels in the mail. I consider it one of the little joys of life. I love finding them in my mailbox, the sound and smell of the paper envelope when I open them. I especially love when they arrive from far away places, with exotic stamps and foreign alphabets on the return address.
This week I received one such parcel. I ordered a copy of For Whom The Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway. I recently read The Sun Also Rises and became more curious about Hemingway. So much of doing research is writing about it, so I thought it would be a good exercise (and also pleasurable) for me to read great works of fiction on my off-time…
On the flip side, my academic reading this week has focused on Sherry Turkle’s Life On The Screen: Identity In The Age Of The Internet (1995). I have read through the first chapter, and I am completely taken by this book. It addresses our complex relationship with computers-as-objects. Turkle writes: “Computers would not be the culturally powerful objects they are turning out to be if people were not falling in love with their machines and the ideas that the machines carry.” (emphasis added, p.49)
Falling in love with their machines. Exactly. Turkle also refers to the “pleasure of opacity” (p.44), or, as I understand it, the excitement of entering in a dance with something (or someone) we cannot completely understand, or analyse. Instead, we can only know “by feel”. I cannot help but find parallels between computer-objects in Turkle’s work and drugs-objects. Drugs too are seductive. We cannot completely explain their effects. They also, as Turkle mentions concerning computers, “give people a way to think concretely about an identity crisis” (p.49). Indeed, drugs – notably psychoactive drugs – allow reconsidering one’s sense of self by opening the mind to “new ways of thinking” (p.49).
This made me recall a post I came across on one online discussion forum (also part of a paper I published here):
” An ode to Adderall (a 6 month love story)
Adderall, I love you.
I love your warm fuzzy buzz.
I love how you give me the strength to start otherwise daunting projects, the focus to keep moving forward on them, and a brightened outlook that helps me feel OK about it when I don’t finish them. I’ll wrap ’em up tomorrow. You’ll be there for me.
I love how you make me feel awesome, giving me a confidence that projects to other people, and amazingly every once in a while makes THEM think I’m awesome too.
I even love how you push me into risky sexual behavior. You only live once.
I love how you cut my lunch intake in half.
I love how you empower me to endure through meetings without being that guy who sits in the back of the room and hope nobody notices when he has to pace around or sneak out.
I love how you help me power through boring, repetitive cardio workouts that would otherwise drive me nuts.
I love the soft, happy glow you leave me as you gently set me back down to reality at the end of the day.
You’re awesome, Adderall.
See you tomorrow.”
And it also reminded me of a recent trip I made to Montreal’s Museum Of Fine Arts, where I found this beautiful bronze statuette by canadian artist Louis-Philippe Hébert, entitled “The Nicotine Sprite” (1902):
She entices. She seduces. A siren call. Nicotine.
And so it goes…