Thursday, October 06, 2011

A Lonely Ballerina & An Invisible Audience

I don’t really know much about ballet or anything. But, when I read in the New Yorker yesterday that the New York City Ballet is running the deficit of about five million dollars and that it is not doing too well, somehow I felt sad. As I read along, I realized one of the main problems is that that people now prefer to watch even ballet performances online. Talking to my mom, I told her about the situation of the New York City Ballet and quizzed her on why she thinks this prominent dance company is struggling. She looked at me teasingly and said, “Cause of the Internet, silly!” And, that was when I was struck by the reality that we sometimes falsely think only belongs to our generation. Even my mom, who is at least four generation older than me, has come to comprehend the power of the Internet and is well aware of its implications for the imminent future.

She said, “One day the world will truly experience how much the Internet and its accessories have changed the world. But, then it will be too late. By then, the life we lived in the absence of this phenomenon will feel like the times of the dinosaurs!” Her words made me think about the ways older generations have been literally attacked by the force of the Internet. She said, “Sometimes I feel I am fighting in a war against what you people call the digital world.” I miss the old world, you know. You and especially the younger generations might never understand the beauty of not having immediate access to information or how it was to wait anxiously for two months to receive a letter from your brother who had immigrated to London.” She continued, “Yes, life might have been harder in your perspective. But, in my perspective, it had more meaning. Life would take its own course without any rush. We could not afford to be impatient for results. We had to wait. We had learned how to go on with our life while waiting. We were involved in the process. Your generation is not.”

While listening to her, I thought of a ballerina who, one day not too far into the future, might have to dance in solitude in front of an auditorium that is absolutely empty of audience and a small camera that broadcasts her performance live to millions of people throughout the world. A sad image perhaps or rather just a different one? Or, it could well be just a world with a conspicuously different façade and yet an enormously similar one to what our parents experienced.

As I was thinking about all of this, my mom said, “When you were gone last year, I learned how to send text messages and despite what you made it sound it is quite easy to send SMS. But, now I want you to teach me how to update my website. I am sure it’s easier than what I think! I don’t like to rely on you guys anymore who are too busy to help me, anyway.” She paused because she had received a message on Google Talk from a colleague in Iran and began to chat with him. Amused by the scene, I sent her a text message as she was sitting in front of me and chatting. My text message read,“You are a champion :-)” She replied to me with a text message while also chatting, “How do you insert that happy face?”

And, so has our world transformed, I guess: A lonely ballerina in an empty auditorium full of invisible eyes and a lady with grey hair who is eagerly and stubbornly learning the art of the invisibility of presence so that she could also blend in this strangely absent audience...


At 4:22 AM, October 07, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"این فیلم را به عقب برگردان. آنقدر که پالتوی پوست پشت ویترین، پلنگی شود که می دود در دشت های دور. "
مدرنیته سرنوشت محتوم همه ی ماست. تا چندسال آینده، دیگر خبری از برفهای روی پشت بام، اسبهایی که می دوند در علفزارهای سبز، پرندگانی که با کوچ پاییزی خود، آسمان را نقش قالی می دهند، و ... خبری نخواهد بود. چرا که بر سر دوراهی رفاه و طبیعت، خودمان رفاه را انتخاب کردیم.

At 2:43 PM, October 10, 2011, Blogger HansA said...

The internet and the ability to always connect and have all the worlds information at its fingertips is a blessing in disguise. Most of the time its fantastic but when I see two young people going to to dinner and the first thing they do is check their messages on their smartphones it makes me sad. They should be looking each other in the eye, smile, chat whatever and forget the device for awhile. We seem to be unable to switch off. But then to receive a text message from a friend can also make you happy if he or she is far away and out of reach.

But, I will never trade a live performance of a ballet or concert for an online performance. Nor will I trade my paper book for an ebook. The horror. If it comes to this -and I am very much afraid it will- then the world will be a poorer place. Lets hope we can give all this connectivity the right place in our lives.

At 3:05 PM, October 10, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't agree more with you, Hans! It would be so sad to see liver performances vanish...A

At 6:17 PM, October 16, 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Azadeh for another exceptionally written piece of prose and for the profound thought it has asked us to ponder.

send your mom a text with '<3' on my behalf.



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