Friday, January 28, 2011
In the first century, Seneca learned of his daughter's death weeks after the fact; his letter of consolation to his wife likely arrived days or weeks later. We see and read tweets of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions moments after events occur, as they occur. The gap between event and telling is narrowing rapidly. None of this is news. As the surfaces of atoms repel other surfaces of atoms, will this gap finally stop narrowing, the cleavage between action and documenting reach a firm endpoint? Or will the gap continue to diminish, will knowledge of an event—updates, tweets, texts, pics—one day precede the events themselves, giving us the kind of Pre-Reality we've always wanted? (It's got to stop, right?) Oh there are satellites, and millions of miles, and seconds and the atmosphere and immutable laws of physics. We'll conquer those, too. Don't bother sending me an email, I already know what happens.