A quick hit from the depths of purging, purifying, and packing.
I had a fascinating conversation with Younger Son last weekend. While he cleaned out the last remnants of his time here at the house in the North Jewish Ghetto, I asked him what he thought I should do with the hundreds of CDs, vinyl albums, cassette tapes, DVDs, and VHS tapes that we have accumulated. Let me be clear. These collective recordings represent a huge part of our lives, our musical and film tastes defined, not to mention, thousands of dollars spent. There is little doubt in my mind that each album, tape, or disc can trigger a memory; perhaps it was a long-ago attended concert or great times with friends. Whatever the situation, there is also no doubt that this entire collection is comprised of outdated technology that struggles to be played in a home that no longer boasts a VCR, a working turntable, a cassette player, or even a computer with a CD/DVD slot. We have, like many others, become a digital home whereby our multimedia experiences are measured in gigabytes consumed.
Younger Son's response to my dilemma did not surprise me in the least. He is a minimalist at heart. He told me to junk it all. (Oh, the horror!!) Like many of his generation, he sees no need for superfluous consumption and extraneous items that simply have no storage space. He reminded me that he gets all of his music from services like Apple Music and Spotify, and watches whatever he wishes, whenever he wishes from various on-demand sites like Netflix and Shomi. In many ways, he has simplified his life by not cluttering his space with stuff that no longer has any tangible value.
I am truly struggling with the idea of tossing out our media collection. Even if I never play any of it ever again, there is something tremendously distasteful to me about the idea that so much creative brilliance has become obsolete in what really amounts to less than half a century. Now, please do not label me a Luddite. I am not for a moment suggesting that the advances in technology haven't been for the better, nor am I saying that I haven't been caught up in the tsunami of new gadgets. Rather, I am attempting to reconcile the ideas of technological obsolescence with artistic maintenance. How can I continue to enjoy many of these rare and wonderful recordings, (all legally obtained, by the way!) without re-cluttering my personal space with worn out gadgets and outdated media components?
I suppose what has me really unnerved is the idea that art no longer seems to have any permanence. Sure I can watch It's a Wonderful Life, but only if it is on at Christmastime, Netflix allows it, or I choose to rebuy it in a digital format. It's kind of like saying that one can only view the Mona Lisa online because the Louvre no longer permits visitors.
Younger Son's response while slightly brutal and just a wee bit dismissive, struck directly at the heart of the matter. In this age of downsizing and placing a premium on our space, holding on to these recordings with no thought of ever playing them again is a luxury for certain. We have chosen a new lifestyle and difficult choices need to be made to facilitate it, but that doesn't mean that I have to enjoy this aspect of the purge.
I would love to hear your comments on this matter. How have you consolidated your media collections, if you have undertaken such an endeavour? Do you hold on like I have because the thought of disposing of stuff is anathema? When is it time to part with stuff like this? Please comment. I'm curious.