26 July 2006

Tripwire: The Escapism of Headphones

There's a great bit on Tripwire right now about headphones in law firms (sort of), from the point of view of a temp. It's a pretty pompous article, but it pinpoints something that motivates the success of the iPod, and the Disc/Walkmen that preceded it: solace for the sacrifice of our time. This is what portable music, and particularly high-capacity portable music, is for; it rescues odd scraps of time that would be otherwise irritating waste or barren tedium, and makes them into a blank canvas for mental experience. It makes everybody in the world into me and my patient, book-toting friends: what does it matter if anything is late, as long as I have a book? Music is even better, because you don't have to be sitting still to use it; my 1.5-mile walk to the lab every day is by far the happier when something good is playing in my head.

Doesn't happen all the time, of course, but with everybody hoo-hah-ing about how iPods make you selfish, asocial, and self-absorbed, it might be noted that they can make you more patient, too.

Course, it'd be easy to argue they make you good little drones dependent on external stimuli to fend off boredom, since technically, all unoccupied time is a blank canvas for mental experience; to stretch the metaphor badly, it could be argued that by giving you a ready-made painting it prevents you from making your own. Only applies sometimes, of course, when there are truly minimal attention demands; repetitive work that seems like it should free your mind just catches it in equally repetitive mental loops.

And since it seems appropriate. . .

Headphones - Natural Disaster (from YSI) off of the self-titled debut of Dave Bazan's new project.

Relevant tags: , ,

No comments: