180923 Living into the future
We’re 76. My wife and I find ourselves thinking and saying out loud, “We’ve lived into the future.” Strolling through the Seattle Center, for example. In the forenoon before a rock concert, a nearly naked teenage girl, her body painted silver, is strolling, too. She and her friends are excited because one of their rock stars, Lady Gaga, is performing tonight.
“We’ve lived into the future,” we say. When we were that age, to walk almost naked and painted silver would have led to arrest and life in an institution for the insane. Parents of such a girl would be grief-stricken and her life would be derailed. Not today. This is the future, and we are living in it.
We are grateful, but just a little disturbed. Why is it that forty or fifty years ago to walk mostly naked and painted was insane but today it’s okay?
On another day it’s crowded again but this time it’s not a rock concert at the Key Arena. The crowd noticeably high number of non-white Asians. One of them is coming our way, beaming and smiling while a knot of people crowds around him to get his autograph. He’s a star, but not a rock star. He’s a gamer, part of a team competing in Dota 2.
We learn Dota 2 has prize money in the millions of dollars. To win one-million dollars by destroying your opponents may be average. I’m not sure because I haven’t studied the numbers in depth; I’m too old and indifferent to the subject. This is the future. It’s not my business.
What is my business is to ask, in a region that has a company like Valve – a main driver in the video gaming world and sponsor of Dota 2 – why not have an International Print Center Incubator?
It’s because printmaking is not only hard to do, it’s slow. There’s no climatic moment, a day when a participant can take off all her clothes, paint herself silver, apply pasties and a G-string and walk through the Seattle Center. There’s no way an adoring crowd of people will crowd around a printmaker to get a souvenir or autograph.
I am part of a population of slow-moving old people in the USA, a country that – according to estimates in the headlines – may be on the verge of bankruptcy. Yet money flows like a river through e-sports tournaments like Dota 2 and for rock concerts.
Daily I challenge myself to answer the question. Today I am reading The Ponzi Factor, by Tan Liu. He writes about the stock market, how it’s a world disconnected from the reality that was investment financing. The stock market, in his book, sounds like a parallel universe like my imaginary place, Emeralda.
Money is not attached to reality. The flow of dollars to buy Dota 2 software from Valve – expressed in US dollars – is real enough. Winners of Dota 2 tournaments can truly purchase a new Ferrari or better – maybe a mansion in a paradisiacal country or whatever they fancy. It’s real money – so far.
What about the 7-year old named Conrad, son of a couple who bought one of my Mini Etching Presses? At his school, is there an etching press like his mom and dad’s? While his friends are talking about Pokémon Go, if he pipes up and tells about his first drypoint, what will they say?
Can Conrad’s teacher relate the calculation of a roller on a Mini Etching Press – its mass, weight and circumference? Can STREAM enter the day’s work in Conrad’s classroom?
My wife and I lived into the future, but we are not part of the times it appears – not as much as a tiny number of individuals – such as Conrad’s kids’ number in the USA (about 28 million kids 4-11 years old).
I leave this essay now, it’s time to go to our gallery and pick up where I left off reading my 2013 book, Press Ghost Investor as I parallel Liu’s book with mine. It’s another story, my way of figuring out what to do.