This post is written in response to this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Lost Art. The task is to write about a lost art: “One that you know, one that you miss, or one that should be lost for good.”
Once upon a time, in the early days of the Iron Age, an elderly man shook his head and said mournfully: “Our grandchildren will never learn how to sharpen a piece of stone into a knife.” Today nobody misses that particular art. Instead we mourn the loss of letter writing, slow focused reading and the art of disconnecting. We do not care about the lost art of making papyrus. We are sentimental beings who think our own experience of the world is worth preserving. In the big scheme of things this is simply silly. What does the universe care if future generations never know the smell of a new book or how to read a map?
But still… It is impossible not to feel that ‘progress’ is not always for the best, and that valuable things are lost in the process. Today our lives seem to tied to screens. The virtual blends with the real, and the world around us fades into the shadows in the glow of the mesmerizing ever-present screen. Do we ever lift our heads from our smart phones for long enough to see the physical world that surrounds us?
And even before that. When did the world become full of things that are disposable? When did we stop crafting things with love and care? Nothing today is made to last but mass produced to be thrown away. Even the words we write are expected to be forgotten tomorrow. That is why we should tweet every few hours and blog once a day. We need to produce new content because the last post is already obsolete. We experience the world in a rush and create things in a rush. We are addicted to what is new. A new phone, a new place, a new experience.
I am nostalgic for a slower world. One I imagine existed in the past. But then most of us are sentimental about yesterday, even while being excited about tomorrow.
Meanwhile the world changes. Things that once were are no longer. The world I knew as a child will be lost, and with it the need to have it back.
One day in the future a woman will shake her head mournfully and say: “Our grandchildren will never learn how to teleport.” And so we mourn the lost art of teleportation.
If you liked this you might enjoy my shorter piece The Fast World.