MODERN TIMES

modern times

Has the world gone mad?
Am I missing something ? Maybe it’s just my age. Let me explain. Daughter Number Two and Son-In -Law bought me some fine new headphones for Christmas. They’d obviously gotten fed up watching me plugged into my computer replete with a set of cute little pink earphones that I’d inherited years ago from them.These are not the big wraparound hi-fi phones for the music sound-system .I never use those.When I “really” listen to music I like to hear it in a room and not just in my head. These are those little earbud- type of thing that you could use with your Smart phone.Except they’re not quite that either .Before you ask …no I haven’t got one of those Smartphones , yet. I still make do with a fairly lo-tech little phone that does just fine for text messages and the odd photo .That and a Hudl does just fine for now while I’m on the hoof.
They also bought me a set of Charlie Chaplin films , some dating back as far as 1915, as if to accentuate the distance culture and technology has travelled in one hundred years. It’s not the technology that has me foxed , though. These earphones are perfect for some old duffer like myself, with whole mountain ranges of aural damage already done . They are fat little black JVC articles which appear to be complete with proper deep speaker- cones, like a mini version of my Mission speakers. The sound is truly excellent and they are very chic compared to my wee cheap pink ones , I have no doubt.No , I’ve no complaints with the technology at all, although I’d probably be quite content if music had remained in mono and all we had was a good old “Dansette” record player to play it on. I’ve still got my old vinyl albums as well as all the usual CDs and digital files and by all intents folks are becoming increasingly fed up with digital music and are now, once again, beginning to buy something which they can hold in their hands .Vinyl is once again on the rise.
No …That’s not the problem.
I attempted to open the packaging, this morning , in a quiet lull after the hubbub of the festivities had finally died away. I must have been at it a full ten minutes. I’m sure some safes are cracked in much less time and without the same energy or effort. This operation was akin to shucking an oyster with only a wooden toothpick as a tool. The tiny little speakers were ensconced solidly within a clamshell hard plastic box, seemingly sealed as one solid- state piece. In point of fact the packaging looked more like an artifact or a solid sculpture in its own right. The fact that it contained the object of my desire was hardly even the point.This presentation appeared to be made soley as something to look good hanging on a shop rail .The idea that it was impregnable was hardly a concern at all.I’ve heard that many of the visits to hospital Accident and Emergency departments have their origins in the struggle with recalcitrant packaging; all those sheepish -looking souls sitting in a gloomy row, blood seeping from a hastily bandaged gaping wound awaiting their turn for a young doctor’s scorn.
I started with scissors initially ,but soon was forced to dig out the sharpest knife in the drawer; a slim little razor- sharp affair which is great for filleting fish. With it ,I managed to separate the two sides of the plastic “clam” and wrench them apart with a loud cracking sound. I could see exactly how I might have easily sliced into the veins in my wrist and drawn blood with one silly slip of the blade…”There’s many a slip ‘tween cup and lip” and all that. Anyway , I finally gained my prize but I couldn’t help thinking what the aforementioned Mr Chaplin would have made of it all while he was inventing modern comedy.

 

His “Modern Times” is a 1936 comedy film ,which he wrote and directed, in which his iconic “Little Tramp” character struggles to survive in the modern, industrialized world. The film is a comment on the desperate employment and financially distraught conditions many people faced during the Great Depression. It was Chaplin’s view that this state of affairs was a direct result of the efficiencies of modern industrialization. I wonder what comedy magic he would have made of this modern world of ours where the packaging and presentation has become more important than the object itself…to the point where it approaches indestructability and also threatens to subsume us and our planet