You’ve heard the cliché “take a picture, it lasts longer” from snarky teenagers, mostly in the pre-“influencer” age when everyone and their dogi wasn’t trying to be Internet-Faymuss, but nonetheless there’s something to the phrase. Pictures really do last longer than memories. Same with words on a page.ii Even keeping words chiseled into stone tablets to the side for now, there’s good reason to heed this advice.
No matter which pseudoscientific guesstimate you choose to believe as to the byte-equivalent capacity of the human brain, whether Landauer‘siii or any other, it really ain’t much compared to the
terabytes petabytes exabytes zettabytes yottabytes we have at our ready disposal in the Information Age. Just as a drunkard has far more options at the local brewhouse than at home, we can accomplish a lot more together — when we effectively communicate. This challenge of effective communication in conjunction with our inherently limited informational capacity is why religions have co-existed with culture pars pro toto since approximately the days of The Primordial Soup: in order to formalise understandings accrued over the millennia and to efficiently re-distribute these understandings with every new generation. We no longer know for sure why Jews and Muslims don’t eat pork, it may just be because pigs are ugly,iv but the groups remember what the individuals can’t and relay the message regardless of “reason.”v This is obviously part of the tragedy of secular modernism, that it aims to make a “clean break” with the past and in doing so severs its knowledge base, and likewise its own jugular vein, leaving it to slowly and painfully bleed out like an unlucky bear in a rusty trap. Science and technology are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but they’re even better with context, viz. religion/tradition/whateveryouwannacallit.
All of which brings us
neatly somewhat messily to this past weekend in Kelowna. For my younger brother’s pending nuptials (tradition!), a gaggle of groomsmen, yours truly included, decided to send him off in style in Lake Country.vi We stayed at a friend’s place a mere stone’s throw from 50th Parallel Winery and we had an absolute corker of a time. I kinda feel bad for our cabin neighbours and I definitely feel bad for the folks at the winery because I haven’t had that much fun (or partied that hard) in more than half-a-decade, and even though we probably should’ve been kicked out of the winery and very nearly were, it felt goooood. Like bare toes in fresh cut grass good, or coming home to your sweetheart after a tour of duty good, or… you get the point.
As an example of the fun wrought, as you might be able to make out from the photo below, I couldn’t even stand on my own two feet as dusk approached at 7pm, as this photo was snapped mid-lean just as I was wobbling back to the dinner table to order our fourth bottle of champagne for the evening, tripping over my oversized “dad shoes” in the process. Like Boris Johnson, I look far more composed than I really was, as evidenced by the fact that, moments after this pic was snapped, I took the opportunity to do handstands on the grass with the a pair of equally fun-loving 10-year-old girls already inverting with aplomb. Yes, they were better than me, but I still held my own for an antediluvian old fart. I even have the grass stains on my Junya Watanabe Comme Des Garçons shirt to prove it.
Now, there are a lot of photos from that weekend that I’m not sharing today, partly because they aren’t nearly as flattering, but certainly not because they don’t exist! The longer I wear my “dad hat” (not to be confused with this “look how young I’m not” hat seen above), the more I’m coming to appreciate that we can’t document too much of our lives.vii We’re going to remember far less than we expect about our thoughts, feelings, emotions, insights, opinions, perspectives, and ideas than we think we will, to say nothing of our questionable fashion choices.
Of course we all fancy ourselves steel traps of all available sensory information but the fact of the matter is that we’re horrendous containers of data, like HDDs on the ISS with no ECC RAM, or the Exxon Valdez, or… again you get the point. Humans rose tint the past and underestimate the future while retaining shockingly little in between, quite in spite of the positivity or negativity of our subjective experience of the moment.viii
That’s why we would all do very well to keep plenty of extra hard drives full of old photos, emails, work documents, music, movies, and everything else we can think of, and of course be liberal in the documentation of our lives.ix Unlike our packrat parents, being data packrats takes up blessedly little physical space and there’s really no excuse not to. We’ll thank ourselves for it later.
So write it down, take a picture, or even make a little video.x It can only last longer.
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- Quite literally dogs, not just mingers and scallywags. You wouldn’t believe how many canines have tens and even hundreds of legitimate non-bot followers. Because we’re all people! May the best bitch win. ↩
- Not only is the durability of the written word an excellent reason to journal, blogging one-ups journaling by being a) command-F searchable, and b) refutable by respectable readers. Not only is the initial act of writing a top-notch mental exercise when coordinating one’s gnarled web of thoughts, but opening slightly refined thoughts into the world can lead to feedback loops, even just hyperlinking, with products greater than the sums of its humble parts. Collaboration: it’s a thing.
This collaboration was always the best thing about the logs back in my IRC days. The logs served as a searchable and shared database of ideas, problems, and solutions that far surpassed the capacity, and arguably even the comprehension, of any one individual brain. In the fiat space, e-mails come closest to this function, which is probably why I’m quite so fond of e-mails as a means of communication. E-mails also share the advantage of blogs in being slower and more methodical to produce, which always suited my bandwidth better than IRC if I’m honest. We all have to find our own tempo in this world! Like marathoners, we have to tune into the right frequency. ↩
- Via none other than Ralph C. Merkle of Merkle Tree fame. Everything’s connected, y’know ? ↩
- Piglets are obviously still cute but baby everythings are cute so that’s not much of a counter-argument now is it ? ↩
- Kosher/Halal rules certainly overlap but they’re far from identical. ↩
- Turns out that “Lake Country” is a legal municipality on Lake Okanagan in BC and not just a general term for a region. Who knew! ↩
- Though whether we can share too much of our lives is perhaps a different conversation for another day. ↩
- Though if we’re to heed the insights of Daniel Kahneman, how our experiences end is far more important than how positive or negative they were in the beginning or middle. Anecdotally, this is why I always save the “nicest” hotels for the last two nights of my holidays. Finish on a high note! ↩
- Ideally we’d throw our pictures in a photo album when we’re done! We’ve a smaller chance of fires and floods than bitrot or “deplatforming”* in this day and age. Just like paper wallets are a very sensible way to preserve our financial wealth, so too are paper photos a very sensible way to preserve our sentimental and emotional wealth.
*ICYMI, “deplatforming” is the term of art for when SJWs sweep the publishing rug out from an author’s feet when said author becomes persona non grata. This is of course only possible when an author is relying on a weak-kneed platform for support, as happened to Heartiste in the last year, and is him/herself weak-kneed enough to be shamed into complacency at the earliest suggestion of misdeed. What, like you can’t re-host somewhere else ? Stormfront figured it out… ↩
- And above all, enjoy the journey and the process! ↩