Disconnecting Hamlet

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Growing as an artist and creative thinker in a highly industrialized city can be a real challenge. Where I live, there is a tendency for art to be packaged; and thinking follows set patterns. So it helps that I work in solitude. My life is an experiment that is slightly Darwin-esque, and I wonder how ideas might form and develop without the influence of the mainstream.

The influence I am more interested in is accessible through creative communities online and the websites of writers I admire. The digital, online space is an intellectual playground, and anyone can play. The wonderful thing is that I can disconnect anytime, usually once an idea or inspirational nudge has come my way. And off I go to play by myself, toying with what I’ve learned, watching an idea (hopefully) grow into something unexpected.

The need to disconnect can be misunderstood by those who aren’t creative types. I have missed opportunities to gather and mingle “on the ground” (as opposed to “online”). Friends have fallen by the wayside. It makes me sad sometimes.

This review, of Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers, caught my eye. Actually, the title of the book did. The writer, a journalist with a Harvard degree in literature and history, explores the past for tips on disconnecting and reclaiming privacy. Plato had to contend with technological breakthroughs in the ancient world, as one reviewer says, as did the people of Gutenberg’s day.

Cover of "Hamlet's BlackBerry: A Practica...

Cover via Amazon

We don’t need to go too far back in history when we think about disconnecting, and getting away in order to create. Was it any easier for people of our grandparents’ generation to break away when they needed to, without alienating those around them? My grandmother did that once, when I was very little; she went to Georgetown to study law for a while. I take it back: it couldn’t have been easy for her, but that’s a story for another time.

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