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Continuous Orientation in the Land of the Midnight Sun


I remember there times when I was younger that I could stay up very late watching television. Everyone else had gone to bed, and I was by myself, bathed in the blue glow surrounded by darkness. It was a guilty pleasure. Usually it was some late night movie from the 1940s. I consider these experiences as part of my visual and cultural education.

When the movie was over, the broadcast day ended. To cap things off there were some announcements and then the ceremonial showing of the film “High Flight.” I remember the images of a jet plane flying, dancing through the clouds, while an overwrought poem was read in an earnest, solemn voice. It was the marker, the ceremony at the end of night. Then perhaps, a brief test pattern– and the oblivion of snow blending with my oncoming dreams.

Static on your television is random emissions of electrons from the cathode of your CRT onto the phosphor screen. Cosmic rays, (not really rays but protons or alpha particles), penetrate our atmosphere with extreme uniformity and the density is fairly well known. There is a statistical probability, then, that some of the dots on your screen are caused by them. But you can never know which ones.

That sort of ending has been pushed to the edges. In the center, the city never sleeps, the eye is unblinking, the sun shines brightly at midnight. Consciousness, or a form of it, no longer flashes its wakefulness as dawn breaks across the spinning time zones, receding as the night grows dark. The waking life and dreaming life blend in a Network that is always lit up– sleeping with the lights on.

“sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled”
-George Santayana

While you slept, the storytellers continued unwinding their threads. The story continued to unfold– and as you awake you find yourself walking into a program already in progress. But is it really any different than any other day? Didn’t the world always already spin millions of different stories outside of your earshot? It’s the points of connection, the spots where your story connects with the stories of others– that’s the bit that matters. That’s the web of connections now visible in real time.

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  1. “sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled?
    -George Santayana <– nice quote. i saved it. thanks for the share

  2. what a wonderful painting this is. it's the allure of those connection points, from here to australia in the wee hours to london and new york that hook me in and keep me moving.

    (ps…i also used to watch until the test pattern hit)

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