Big Things in Small Packages

I was driving home from Kentucky last week and, while listening to NPR, heard an interview with noted opera stars Andrea Bocelli and Placido Domingo. These two tenors were putting on a show in Washington, D.C.–Bocelli singing and Domingo conducting–and were asked if they owned iPods. Both replied that they did and Bocelli said that he has opera from A to Z on his. Domingo, though, had a different response:

“I’m very happy that people can put so much music in such a little thing, but it scares me so much,” Domingo says. “I’ve been recording for 40 years now; how is it possible that my whole career can be in a little thing like this?” –from NPR.org

Maybe it’s just me, but I found this statement very profound. With the remarkable advances we have made in technology, I could write books for the next seventy years and all of them could be contained on something so small that I might lose it changing out the contents of my pockets. It’s a bit disconcerting to realize that all the hours I spend planning, writing, rewriting, polishing, submitting, waiting, hoping, dreaming, and starting over could be boiled down to a series of ones and zeroes neatly contained in something smaller than one of my fingers. Placido Domingo’s entire life, to paraphrase his fear, can be reduced to one very small object. I realize that art, in any form, is much greater than the physical (or electronic) space it takes up, but I still have mixed feelings when I hold up my flash drive or even laptop and realize how many hours of toil are contained within. I realize this is silly on my part, but in striving to create something larger than life, we artists are relying on science to make our work smaller and smaller. At what point does our labors, those of the artistic community, pale in comparison to those of the technological community. At what point does science become the true art?

That said, I’m continuing to edit the rough draft of Superhero and will hopefully have it ready to send out to my readers by Christmas. It’s a slow process, but I hope it will produce a cleaner manuscript than I started with on Dead and Dying. In light of my current involvement in self-editing, I will probably postpone my Christmas short story project until next year, with the exception of the one story I finished, which I will post on here at some point in the coming weeks.

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About Lee Smiley

I write things. Maybe you'll read them.
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2 Responses to Big Things in Small Packages

  1. stonesnwords says:

    At what point does science become the true art?
    My answer to that question is: never! Technology is a genre all to itself, science is just the medium in which technology is created…hmmm, or it could be the other way around. Science is not the be-all end-all however as science still requires humans to rely on faith, faith in the scientific theories, faith that the scientists are not biased (as many are), and faith that the observed is not too terribly affected by the observer.
    Just because the packaging of recorded art is changing does not mean that art is changing that much. A writer will still work with words, the singer with voice, and the musician with sounds, the live versions of each genre will always be better than the canned versions, no matter the recording device or storage medium.
    Oh well, just an opinion, a friend told me to stop by here, interesting blog, I will be back!

    • Lee Smiley says:

      Re: At what point does science become the true art?
      Very good points! I certainly don’t mean to imply that all art will become obsolete as science gains more of a hold on our society, but I do believe that, as artists, we have the decked stacked against us. In school, we are largely encouraged to curb artistic innovation for the sake of “following the rules” whereas no such boundaries are placed on scientific pursuits. Practitioners of science are encouraged early on to explore the outer reaches of what is possible whereas artists are told to color inside the lines until we are old enough to understand that the lines are really not important. I think the pace of innovation in art has slowed while that of science has accelerated so much, that we are left to wonder if it is truly within our control.
      Still, science still falls short of touching the metaphoric heart, if not the physical one. There must always be a place where fact ends and speculation begins and that point is the genesis of both faith and art. Without that dividing line where we go from answers to questions, we simply lose our reason for being.
      Thanks for the opinion and thank your friend for me. I’m always surprised when someone actually comments on here. Most of the time, I think I’m just writing for myself, so it’s always nice when I see that someone else has taking the time to stop in.

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