Oct 5, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan

I think you’re on to something here, Tom.

I’ve noticed a few of my more thoughtful friends start talking about moving away from digital in preference for analogue without fully being able to articulate why they desire to make the move.

Also seeing some art talk about the idea in different ways from unexpected sources like Post Malone’s song Internet’ and Aussie hip hop group Thundamentals on their song ‘I miss you’ ( I swear you might’ve been the one to write those lyrics).

As for me, I hope the trend towards analogue continues. For personal enjoyment and satisfaction, screens can’t compete with humble paper.

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Oct 5, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan

Well done Tom. After reading your newsletter and comments, any contribution on my part would be a lightweight's effort. I will note that I find the discussions and sharing of ideas themselves to be analog in nature. They aren't "digital" bullet point counter-arguments or agreements. There is art in the discussion. Personally, it's what I miss most and I appreciate you and all contributors

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This is an idea that I've been discussing with people a lot of late, ever since I came across it on your old twitter feed I think, and it's one that I wholeheartedly agree with.

In fact, for Christmas this year I got my father hardcover books (Cicero and Dalio - Principles), both of which he absolutely loved, and then for his birthday I went ahead and got him a proper vinyl player, with Coltrane - A Love Supreme (classic, and an easy choice), and Pearl Jam - Ten (another favorite of his, and an incredible rock album in it's own right).

The impact of the vinyl player on the front room was immediate, and in the weeks since getting it for him the room seems to have taken a new life honestly. He comes in, has dinner, and then goes in to the front room, with the fire on, tea, two biscuits, and puts on an LP.

Like you mentioned above, it's the tangible aspects of this that make it so appealing - he isn't just going in and turning on the music - he's somewhat symbolically taking the rest for himself through the physical process of putting on the vinyl.

For a textbook type-A workaholic, this has been huge for getting him to relax more in the evenings, which obviously delights me to no end - there is nothing better than seeing your family happy and enjoying life.

But what's been interesting is how he seems to have fallen into having a relaxation ritual he completes every evening, without really ever intending to. I'm going to try emulate the old fella and see if I can get myself to do the same.

With regard to the supremacy of real books over digital I agree, but I also find it hard to beat the ease with which one can highlight on kindle and save notes. As a completely obsessive note taker (to the point of being detrimental, as at times it prevents me from enjoying what I'm reading), the ability to highlight in 4 different colors (I have a system, which everyone I say it to laughs at), save them for reference, export etc. has become essential to my process of learning new material.

That being said, anyone who pirates fiction and reads it on a laptop/phone screen is probably a psychopath.

"You see, as much as I moan about tech, it is largely out of disappointment rather than knee-jerk Luddite reaction. Technology can be great but we use it for boring things that benefit people who themselves shun their own creations in their private lives."

True. Absolutely true, and I wish more people would realise this. Technology is at it's best when it's in the background, making life easier, not to be seen, not to be heard. It just does it's thing.

Automation is going to be the greatest gift to the artists of the world. Wilde mentioned it first in his essay on Socialism, about the ideal world being one where robots do all the work and humans spend all their time on the important business of creating art.

I'm not a socialist, but I think that's an idea that were likely going to see coming into fruition very soon (UBI anyone?), but whether or not this is a good thing is another debate altogether.

Anyways, loved the article, and I enjoyed your piece on Charlie Bubbles as well. It's one I'll have to check out this weekend. Looking forward to your next piece.

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Really appreciate this essay 👍 just keep them coming, Thomas!

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Oct 4, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan

I was enamoured of iTunes and Apple Music for a loooong time, but came back to CDs for the reasons you've described. I do want to go vinyl, but having a family makes it harder to splurge on analogue pleasure. I did begin to write a list of what would be my first vinyl purchases: Superunknown, Grace, etc.

Maybe once I create and sell the digital education platform that is at present in the planning stages ... Then you'll just write an essay lambasting that. Ha! No, the digital platform of which I speak is only a box-ticking site; I had to deliver online learning during lockdown and it was largely a fool's errand.

I never really got digital books. Nothing like holding it in your hands.

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Oct 4, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan

Great article here Thomas!

You did not mention the fact that not owning your products (merely "renting" their digital form) means someone else has a right of life and death upon them: As we've seen recently, Amazon editing or deleting books from their Seattle HQ and your very own (purchased) copy that you're currently reading in Nice, France gets purged from your Kindle. Same with Music providers, Netflix etc. People who give a damn about what they are consuming begin to realize the danger in that - inherent to the digital form.

On a broader scale, this is also an issue of identity: imagine if your average Joe's phone, computer and external hard drives were wiped out. What would be left ? No more music, movies, books, but also no more pictures, memories, correspondance; who takes pictures on film anymore? Who writes letters? If your digital devices were lost (and trust me, I have countless stories of crashed HDDs and stolen phones with no/partial cloud backups), would there still be any footprints of your life left ? If that doesn't frightens you, you haven't thought about it enough.

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Oct 4, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan

Loyal opposition checking in here—I'm very drawn to this idea, but in the interest of accuracy I'd like to complicate it a bit.

Allow me to start by introducing two examples of younger artists that I find compelling, original, and brilliant: 100 gecs (the song "Money Machine" is a good place to start) and Tamsyn Muir (the book Gideon the Ninth is the best place to start). 100 gecs is a musical duo who compose and record almost entirely via the internet. Muir is a gifted novelist whose senses of genre convention and plotting were formed in online fan fiction communities. One certainly *can* purchase their works on vinyl and in hardback, but it's weird; it's weird because these works were incubated in a digital matrix in a way that just wasn't the case with Montaigne, Miles, Moby Dick, Meshuggah, etc. The mental mulch and compost in which they've grown has been digitalized and networked for decades. They may represent a brand new fresh wave of culture like nothing that's ever been seen before. I'm old enough these days to complain sincerely about "kids these days", but at the same time I want to recognize that there are geniuses among them.

What complicates a simple "the future is analogue" is that these born-digital artists make born-digital works that are unique, bespoke and crafted with care. They exist in and are formed by the brutish, homogenizing digital environment that we all love to gripe about so much, and yet that familiar blazing flame of human spirit and creativity shines through them. Will they make it to any kind of canonical status in a coming Renaissance, and if so, will it be in physical form? I think it's too soon to tell for sure, but it's likely.

Anyway, bring it on, I say! I am all for an analogue future, in which quality and taste endure and are expressed in fully physical form, but I also expect the content of the culture of the future to have a wired spirit.

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deletedOct 9, 2020Liked by Thomas J Bevan
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