I never in my life ever expected humanity’s ever-increasing appetite for acceleration to come to the point that the very act of reading would become a veritable Asperger’s simulation chamber.
But it’s happened. Don’t believe it? Peep this app:
I don’t think I even need to explain the idea. And this is a simple run-through at 500wpm.
There’s a point where I want to to read the words JUMPED THE SHARK slowly. There’s a point where finally, I’ve metastasized from a literary consumer reading A Beautiful Mind to becoming the guy from it–where I’m mumbling to myself in some overwrought, autistic haze with theorems, graphs and formulas floating in three-dimensional z-space.
Isn’t it enough that we went from DVD to Blue-ray? Then from that to the point that the informational and overload of detail is now just that: overload.
Those inclined to think my subtle Rain Man references are caustic and out-of line; listen. I have just cause.
Let’s start with film. The industry standard for cinema is 24 frames per second. This standard is what we seem to truly be engineered to digest. Just enough detail–or implied detail–and our brains literally fill in the minor gaps. Motion blur is a good thing–not an aberration. It’s something we deal with in real life. We were never meant to see every hair on a person’s face–we were meant to see a few, and let the peripheral vision do its thing.
Yet, instead of seeing a pan shot of a wheat field in tried-and-true cinematic output, we’re now hooked up to a 4k, definitional espresso IV bag that now forces us to see EVERY. SINGLE. BLADE. OF. GRASS.
In the crass world of “more is always better:” I guess it’s technically true.
In the world where the mind needs to rest, it’s a cerebral holocaust.
But what about our minds?
That’s right. Our minds. We’ve become so concerned with running this engine at premium RPMs, that we’ve forgotten to simply let it idle now and then. Or . . . Shut it down and run the radio off the battery for a while.
Perhaps I am the only person on the continent that feels this way. And I don’t know what happened, but somewhere along the road of my lifetime, our anthropological Han Solo sat in front of our synaptic control board told our developmental Chewie to throw the light speed toggle–and never pull it back. Ever. Again.
And this app takes whatever agoraphobic inner-child I may be nurturing, and has it shuttering the house. Boarding the windows. Huddling in the kitchen with a Glock.
What about space?
Think about the nature of the Spritz app. Is the “accomplishment” worth the trade off?
The reading process for me is one of space. One of timing. One of pauses that I may decide to impute to a section of the sentence–and usually based on the way I interpret the punctuation.
Half the reason I’ve literally laughed out loud reading Mark Twain’s The Innocent’s Abroad is the words.
The other half of the reason is precisely something else: The space between them. the pauses. The implied breaths taken by the existential voice in my head that I hear as the words scroll through my frontal lobe.
And this app will have none of that superfluous space nonsense. Oh, you’ll read read The Hunger Games all right. And you will perceive ZERO narrative contrast between the frenzied, inaugural battle for supplies and the tender song at Rue’s death.
But yay. You jammed it in 45 minutes. Because you became an absorbent drone. And you will become a cyborgish data port with no heart. For Space.
Imagine for a minute, a compressed version of Beethoven’s 5th–with all 32nd notes and all jammed infinitesimally close together.
Congratulations. You’ve just relegated the majestic to some schizophrenic morse code beta test.
I don’t know what I expected to happen. We’ve freebased every single aspect of life. There was a day when Jolt soda was the satanic antecedent to Red Bull, Red Line, Monster, and every other Ginseng extract-with-a-Taurine-moon-rising; the anti-roofie–which gave us the ability to run the Baja dunes with a missing wheel AND a busted drive-line. 5-hour energy drinks have fallen on the gauntlet-floor to a thumbs down concession to some other 8-hour bottle in Nero’s coliseum.
Video games are constantly laying graphics-rleated, UFC smack downs to their own previous versions. The obsessions of more and better and accelerated are caving to bigger, superlative and light-speed.
Just don’t stop and take a breath.
I suppose this app has some redeemable value–but only in the case of absorbing the static, pedestrian data that would invoke the demon Narcolepsus without having it summoned from the parchment. And maybe Thomas Pynchon’s endless run-ons find parity here.
But you’re never going to hear the whispers of CS Lewis, or the see the imageries of Emily Dickinson with this supposed milestone on the road to improvement.
If–that’s where the road actually leads. I’m not sure.