Small Streams

July 11, 2009, 4:46 pm
Filed under: awareness, technology | Tags:

Am rather weathered from celebrating our 98th. Liz has known me for almost half her life and I have known her for more than half of mine. Better stop. This is sounding like an algebra problem.

One of last night’s guests said she has observed me driving and has given me the nickname Putterer because of my slow pace and the absent look on my face.

Like most of the nicknames I have been tagged with over the years, I am not overly fond of it. For one, one of my childhood pets was named Putter. My mother, when she wanted the attention of one of us, had a habit of running through the family names, including the dog, until she got to the right child, sometimes overshooting the mark, so to speak: Sharron-Randy-Jeannie-Johnnie-Susie-Mark-Putter-Mark.

The other reason I wouldn’t like being called Putterer is because it’s true, but
only partially true. I sometimes drive slower than normal not through habit but by choice; my absent look is sometimes due to being absorbed by the scene, the scene being more than what is beyond the windshield.

As unamerican as it may seem I’m tempted to go beneath the speed limit–at least when nobody’s behind me. As I travel at what I call flivver speed, I can inhabit a certain consciousness that some experienced in the early part of the last century. The first trip in an automobile, one capable of moving at 25 miles per hour, would be mind bending for an adult. You get the feeling of going faster than your feet could take you, faster than nature provided for.

At 20-25 miles per hour, your pulse can quicken. Your lifebeat increases. Culturally we adopted musical forms, jazz and ragtime, that provided the accompaniment for our movements.

Past the age of the flivver, to the time of the Model A, what music complements the speed: Benny Goodman, Chuck Berry, Flatt & Scruggs, Booker T. & the MGs? The tempo of a speeding auto I believe corresponds to none of them. The quantitative change bears a qualitative change, one that leaves the concept of music in its tracks. We may play music as we travel. But it is vestigial and alien? Crack a window and you’ll hear the music, the tires on the asphalt the wind rushing into the car. It’s a crazy sound we still haven’t caught up with.

And don’t even mention jet travel.

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