Current Weather
The Spy FM

Life In Juxtopia

Share this article and spread the love.
Join the conversation! Post a comment on this article.

Life In Juxtopia

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
July 5, 2012

For five full days — following Friday night’s nasty wind-and-rain flashstorm — you were without electricity in the Washington suburbs. Dodging felled trees and fallen power wires, you made daily forays to nearby cafes and coffee shops, establishments that did have power. There you could recharge the batteries in your laptop and smartphone and take care of various electronic chores, such as banking, sending gifts, ordering necessities and sorting through email.

But mostly you stayed home, reading books and actual newspapers, just like in the Olden Days.

Still there were so many weird moments, occasions when you had one foot in the pre-Edisonian 19th century and the other foot in the hyper-electrified 21st century. You couldn’t help but notice the bizarre juxtapositions that occurred in this, what should you call it, juxtopia.

One afternoon, for instance, you sat in the sweltering heat, drinking iceless water, and watched a movie — on a DVD in your battery-powered computer.

By coincidence, you chose The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington as Eli. You knew nothing about it beforehand, but as you watched Eli traipse westward through a post-apocalyptic world — a dirty, dusty landscape caused by some natural disaster and subsequent war — you felt a connection to his world. Here was a crumbling brick facade that had once been the storefront of an upscale clothier; there was a hollowed out nuclear cooling tower, now turned into an impromptu campsite. As in your world, there was no electricity. And fresh water was more valuable than just about anything.

Along the way, Eli barters for battery power to recharge his digital music player. Other characters, meanwhile, listen to their music on a wind-up Victrola.

You identified with the film’s constant see-sawing between future and past. On your smartphone, you read messages from people kvetching about their lack of electricity – but they still have operative smartphones. You opened your windows to catch the breezes, but instead of silence, you heard the constant roaring of your neighbors’ gas-powered generators — like airplanes constantly revving their engines on the tarmac. A friend told you of someone with a generator who had to choose between getting on the Internet and keeping the refrigerator running. The person chose the Internet.

You might have made the same choice. You wrote this line by candlelight; you filed it by iPhone.

During one of your cafe outings, you read that sci-fi futurist (and Freddie Mac historian) Newt Gingrich compared the derecho-wracked regions to the way the world will be in the wake of a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse event. You resolved to set aside emergency stores of clean water.

To be sure, there were tragic deaths caused by the storm and the heat. But many of the so-called problems brought about by the midsummer loss of electricity were merely first-world annoyances. For instance, you heard people complaining about the paucity of pastries at Starbucks. But you couldn’t help but notice what works and what doesn’t when the power goes off. That could come in handy in case Gingrich and others are right and you wind up living in just such a juxtopia — somewhere between always-on and never-on — for an even longer period of time.

Sent from my iPhone [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center