Technology Might Have Peaked With Magnetic Tape

The winter gloom has receded from Vegas, leaving behind electric blue skies punctuated by a few Super Mario clouds. I’ve been working on touching my toes because I worry I’m getting creaky. Last week, I could barely reach my knees, but now I can almost brush my shins. I don’t want to become one of those grey men who struggle to put on their socks or sigh when they drop a pen, knowing it will be a significant event to retrieve it. I need to find a way to do the same with my brain because the future is coming fast and weird, and I’ll need a limber disposition to survive it.

“Soon we will find ourselves living inside the hallucinations of non-human intelligence,” said some big thinkers in The New York Times. It’s already made an incursion into my classroom. A student wrote, “I cannot describe the last advertisement to influence my behavior because I am a machine-learning model and I experience the world differently than human beings.” How do you respond to this type of thing? That night I stared at the ceiling, worrying about a world where writing becomes so cheap that reading is pointless and frightened by the havoc that will occur when these systems inevitably converge with the personal data harvested from us over the years. Technology might have peaked with magnetic tape: mix tapes and movies on VHS—perhaps that’s all we ever needed.

A delightful sense of slippage occurs when you can’t decide if something is brilliant or awful, which is how I felt the first time I heard Deux, a French synthwave duo who recorded a handful of tracks in the early 1980s before disappearing. In a dimension light years away from whatever their synthesizers are doing, Cati Tête and Gérard Pelletier mumble-sing to each other about how it might be time to dance, and they sound effortlessly cool, an effect enhanced by the photograph on the cover of Golden Dreams. The two of them look so young and hopeful and French, smoking in a way that makes me miss cigarettes terribly. There’s a tenderness to this snapshot: forty years have passed, and Pelletier passed away in 2013. Thanks to the indispensable Minimal Wave label, their music has earwormed into my day-to-day life. In addition to “Golden Dreams,” I highly recommend the android grind of “Lassitude,” the spiky bop of “Game and Performance,” and the terrifyingly catchy “Decadence”.

Deux – Golden Dreams

Golden Dreams | Minimal Wave, 1985/2022 | Bandcamp
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MDonaldson →
1 month ago

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: the main reason most new TV shows + movies seem like they’re set in the late 20th century (and much before!) is not so much nostalgia but simply because it’s easier to write interesting plotlines pre-mobile phone, pre-digital ubiquity.

MDonaldson →
1 month ago

I think it goes deeper than the visual constraints. Watching an episode of Seinfeld and noting how soon the premise falls apart if everyone had cell phones is a funny and illustrative game to play.

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