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This report is taken from PN Review 261, Volume 48 Number 1, September - October 2021.

Releasing the Spark Jonathan Simons
As more of our lives are swept up and digitised by vast corporate networks of spectacle, ours may be the last generation with one foot still touching down in the analog world. We may be the last to have come of age under the influence of such old-world obstacles as boredom, solitude, and silence. Every generation has its share of vices, though none as accessible and spellbinding as the Internet, connecting us without pause to the gossip and chatter of three billion other users. Even before this dreadful pandemic came and pushed us deeper into the web, we were already hooked. The question we face now is whether there will remain enough of us who value the authenticity of local creative communities.

To digital natives, our analog upbringing seems like an unbearable wasteland. Just the idea of running out of entertainment, spending entire afternoons daydreaming, alone and unreachable, baffles and unsettles them. Yet the genesis of any creative revolution depends upon leisure, upon having enough time, space, and autonomy – what we used to call privacy – to develop vital capacities to think, to feel, and to dream.

From the rubble of our barbarity, we do manage, on occasion, to build thriving civilizations. When the underlying conditions are ripe and a community garners enough solidarity and vision to lift itself up from the debris of history, it’s artists and philosophers we most often find leading the way.

It’s not a matter of glorifying bygone eras; we’ve always ...


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