Saturday, March 9, 2013

Waiting for a Text from Godot

    While sitting in a cocktail lounge last evening waiting for the arrival of the karaoke disc jockey I sent text messages to several people with whom I’ve had a friendly acquaintanceship during recent months. I wished to maintain some continuity of social contact after not seeing some of them for a time.

    After not receiving any response, it occurred to me that communication today has achieved what some philosophers have referred to as reductio ad absurdum or what playwrights have used as a basis for their Theatre of the Absurd. I was, it seemed, “Waiting for Godot”.

    In “Godot”, Samuel Beckett describes two characters who are waiting to meet an acquaintance neither of them knows well even to the point of not being able to recognize him should he arrive. The absurdist play continues without Godot ever appearing. It’s like an unanswered text message.

    In the old days (I thought I’d never fall into using that phrase but there it is) communication, in person, allowed people to see each other and view their response, word by word, to whatever was spoken about. The feedback, facial expressions or physical posture, could indicate degrees of acceptance or rejection or neutrality about what was spoken.

    Today, with text messages (or voice messages recorded for later retrieval by the recipient) heading out to the cyber cloud, the sender never knows whether the message was received, garbled, lost in space or simply ignored. Instead of Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author it’s now “six texts in search of an answer”.

    It seems there is an estrangement from our global community and the degree of estrangement is directly proportional to advances in communication technology. The better the equipment, the less actual communication that takes place. Please leave a message after the tone. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. 

                                                            Can you hear me, Godot?

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