Tuesday, June 15, 2010

On the Miniaturization of the World

Small is better. We seem to think that. Why? In my experience the transistor radio of the early sixties was the first big commodity that capitalized on smallness. That the quality of the sound was akin to pre-wax-cylinder audio didn't seem to phase kids like me. I loved mine with a passion. I suppose the first wrist watches or before that, pocket watches, were a big deal when they first came out. And in the world of travel, small things were long a part of the package. Small bars of soap at the hotel. Little shampoo containers. The airlines in the fifties would serve beer in half-sized bottles. My father would bring unopened samples home from business trips and, man, I really dug them.

The New York World's Fair in 1965. . . I remember the Japan Pavilion. They had an electronics section where little TVs were on display. They worked, even. Wow.

Well we've come quite a ways since then. Now EVERYTHING seems to be small. Yeah, the phones with the little screens and the "apps." You can watch a movie the size of a commemorative postage stamp. And graphic arts: our television screens, stuff on the internet, CD booklet type, all so small I personally have a hard time reading it. My wife and I tune in to the middle of a Mets game, for example, and she asks, "what inning does it say it is?" I can't make it out from where we are sitting. "Either six. . .or nine. Can't tell," I reply. Now there are plenty of graphics designers, I assume, that are 20 years old, getting paid peanuts, and they have 20/20 vision. Maybe if the Art Director was over 35 he or she would make them up the point sizes? But no, anybody over 35 would have to be properly paid, so there isn't anybody left. They are gone. Home squinting at their TVs, or gazing at their phone, trying to figure out what show it is they are watching. "Must be Lucy. I can tell by her voice."

And even the logos for products. . . tiny, so the message seems to be lost. But no, it's in fashion.

Watch a video of an old baseball game. Mickey Mantle comes up. . . on the screen flashes MICKEY MANTLE .322 AVE in a huge typeface. It looks so. . . old fashioned. But you don't have to squint to read it.

It's a small world. Maybe it's getting too small. Are we that cramped for space?

I like to go to the seashore because you can look out at the ocean where the horizon line of sky and sea meet. It's so open, so big. I wonder if there are any plans to shrink it down in the future? It's so passe, isn't it? And the universe. Much too big for modern times. Must do something about that.

1 comment:

  1. Just two more thoughts on all this and I'll leave off. One thing that doesn't seem to be getting smaller is the hamburger. . . we supersize that stuff.

    Think of it, our experience with smallness has a primary beginning in childhood. We are small. We have a set of things made for us that are small too. Clothes, utensils, replicas of adult equipage, like toy cars, trains, buildings, even babies (dolls). Our goal then is to get big and get the big things that adults have. What has happened in adultland? Is our obsession with downsizing the world just another attempt to deny our aging, our inevitable demise, to return to childhood and be forever young?


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