Sunday, October 23, 2011


“That's the word that comes to mind,” Peter said, “Impermanence!”

Unfortunately, I hadn't heard the question. Our meeting of the Sarasota Chapter of the Florida Writers Association was having a discussion of impressions of readings we had just heard, and I had thoughtlessly wandered off mentally while taking notes about the meeting. I caught Peter's response and scribbled it down on a fresh page, but I missed the question. I was stuck with “Impermanence!” staring at me from the otherwise blank page. I'm pretty sure we weren't discussing Buddhism, but Rod, our moderator, soon moved to a different speaker so I was left adrift in a room full of avid, attentive listeners who decided “Impermanence” was indeed the right word!

The word bounces around in my mind like bug in a Mexican jumping bean. It magically appears on the computer screen as I sit here typing. How do I rid myself of this enigma? I can only envision one quick definition of impermanence, and it has absolutely nothing to do with our meeting!  Impermanence is my definition of the Internet.  Can I sneak in an article about the evolution of the electronic media that has so revolutionized our vocation, or avocation, redefining impermanence, as a blog component of last Wednesdays' meeting? Probably not, they're a sharp group. But, here goes anyway.

Nothing better defines impermanence than clicking through your bookmarks on your PC. Really! Try it! Start at the top of your bookmark file and click your way down the list. See how many of your favorite websites are nothing more than a “404” error. Impermanence! Those valued treasures that you so diligently marked for future reference fall victim to today's economics. If no one pays money to keep that website active, it fades into the ether as easily as it came into being. As a matter of fact, it disappears in a single keystroke!

Web sites disappear so much quicker than the printed word. Once the Internet has pulled down your website, you are on your own. If you didn't electronically copy the material to your own temporal universe, you are out of luck. There is no recourse.

Books are not subjected to the same stark, brutally traceless removal from the face of the earth! Your library may remove old, tattered, or unpopular books from their shelves. Brick and mortar book stores may not ever carry the printed material you want to read or buy in the first place, but there are resources around the world dedicated to saving the printed word. The Library of Congress is dedicated to that end, but who saves the websites? And how could they?

Anything found on the web fits the definition of impermanence. Don't believe me? Just click through your bookmarks. Let me know at my e-mail address, let's see, this month it's aah, no. not that one, let me see if I can find the current one I use...

No comments: