Saturday, June 11, 2005

Meaning Of Actual Experience

I have been deliberately away from these posts and the Internet for more than a week, thanks to my move to the new house as well as heavy dining and wining experiences. I never ate so much outside or tried so many differenty cuisines. On the whole it was a nice experience.

Talking about experiences, I have been thinking of a decent gift for my parents on their upcoming anniversary and someone suggested a cruise or vacation. Trying to make possible an experience rather than giving a trinket/utility sort of thing always scored high on my list. I was talking to another pal of mine yesterday night and he observed that I usually call him after an email or a chat.( implying an "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" thingie). We both know that we have fun we spend some time together in an Irani Cafe rather than talk over the phone. It seems weird to me to call up even the best friends at times because somehow the telephone as a medium doesnt serve the definition of "quality time" with my folks. The same could be said of Internet. I hate chatting/IMing because it undercuts a real conversation and fosters bad grammar(I am saying it didnt strike me as such though I have seen people swear by it for its features etc.,) . Besides, If people really had something to say they would probably compose it in an email (I still miss those real letter writing days yearning for the post man to call out my name at mid-noon.Its been ages since I have known that and I fear I cannot recognise my own handwriting!Note to Self: Take a Calligraphy Class).You may call me a luddite for saying this but I dont want to go on a philippic here about virtual experiences. What concerns me here is the meaning of an actual experience as opposed to the abstraction of it. I cannot say better than Robin Williams from GoodWill Hunting :

Robin Williams as Sean : Thought about what you said to me the other day, about my painting. Stayed up half the night thinking about it. Something occurred to me... fell into a deep peaceful sleep, and haven't thought about you since. Do you know what occurred to me?
Matt Damon as Will: No.
Sean: You're just a kid, you don't have the faintest idea what you're talkin' about.
Will: Why thank you.
Sean: It's all right. You've never been out of Boston.
Will: Nope.
Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You've never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man...

It strikes me that actual experience somehow distorts our hypothetical Image, be it for good or bad. There is probably a good reason for me perusing photographs besides my friends rather than send them a digitally scanned picture, catch my newspaper in print rather than read it online, page through a real book instead of leafing it online. At the same time I like paying bills, booking tickets and do my banking online.( Of course reading other people's thoughts sprayed out on blogs is something else that could be on the list too.)

My frontal cortex throws me into a dizzy when I think of what might be the meaning of actual experience as opposed to an online/virtual experience .


Swathi said...

hi Paddy
yeah i remember this dialogue from Good Will Hunting too well esp. 'coz it is one of my friends favorite dialogue and he had written it in a mail to me verbatim (hmmm memories..)
very profound

perspective said...

And to agree that i too have lost touch with a lot of the REAL things thanks to this VIRTUAL world...something i've learnt to fear is the mixing up of the VIRTUAL and the REAL. My Virtual friends remain virtual and the real real...cant mix the two lives ... will take me a while before i learn to do that... a long long time...

Geetanjali said...

Couldn't agree more on two of your statements:-
1.Trying to make possible an experience rather than giving a trinket/utility sort of thing always scored high on my list.
2.I still miss those real letter writing days - love seeing something in the post-box with my name; and I mean something that isn't promotion for something or some kind of a bill or receipt! The post-cards and occasional letters I get frm friends living abroad are a treasure and stored away in box, to bring out every once in a while when I'm on a nostalgia trip!

That dialogue frm Good Will Hunting makes me want to see the movie again - this time without painful adverts punctuating the movie!

Geetanjali said...

Hey you've been book tagged!

Paddy said...

[Swathi] Welcome to my lair! Glad to see you like the same too.

[Anya] Congrats on your blogoversary. I can understanf what you say.

[Gee] Arent there somethings in life that are irreplacable? BTW I did fulfille the challenge thrown by you :)