Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Have you ever made pudding the old-fashioned way? I don't mean ancient here. I mean, still packet but with all that stirring.

When I was a kid, I used to beg beg beg my mom to make pudding. This meant, of course, someone had to be in charge of stirring stirring stirring that milk and pudding until it came to a boil. Guess who got that lucky job? Yep, the kid who asked for it.

My arm used to hurt from all of that stirring. Then there was the heat coming off of the burner. And the standing. My God, the standing.

But oh, when that jello was done, the pleasure. To feel it thickening under the turn of my wooden spoon. To smell its rich, yummy goodness. And then to wait ever so impatiently for the refrigerator to finally make that pudding do what is was supposed to do. I could hardly ever wait to finish dinner so I could get my pudding. My hard won pudding.

And then the instant kind came out. And all of that complaining and moaning about having to stir was replaced with a whisk and a few strokes.

The weird thing is, we stopped making pudding.

I'd forgotten all about this until I got together with a writer friend of mine the other day. He's a script editor for Hollywood. Has worked on some of the biggest films of our generation. I could tell you his name, but then he would probably kill  me. So let's just call him, Hollywood. H for short.

I was moaning about how movies are getting so incredibly predictable and boring, and how that has slowly eeked its way into books. You know if X is writing a book, it's going to be a mystery/thriller/drama. Pick a genre. But pick only one. Because all of us in arts and entertainment are getting typecast. Every. Last. One.

H said it's because we've moved into the instantaneous society. I buried my head in my arms and moaned, where will it all end? (and felt very much like my grandmother as I said this).

H mentioned a movie I'd actually seen a few years ago. An "off-Hollywood" production called Idiocracy. It extrapolates present society 500 years or so into the future where the president of the United States is a professional wrestler, you can buy everything at Costco, including degrees, and the average IQ has gone so low, the average Joe of today who gets frozen and wakes up in the future is actually a genius who tries to save mankind from his own stupidity. It is black humor at its blackest, and yet with a thread one can see developing in our present society. Kids and adults attached to computer devices of all sorts all the time. Monies being poured into science that solves hairloss or increases breast-size most "naturally", rather than finding new sources of energy. The arts getting less and less attention as video of all nature takes over. And those video shows getting dumber and dumber with each season.

Where will it all end? (Again, feeling a lot like my grandmother).

And that's just it, Grandma Julie. Does the aging generation begin to feel like progress is not necessarily good, or have we really begun to overturn the technology screw and underturn individual thought and development? Is the future looming before our eyes Idiocracy? I cannnot be that pessimistic, even if I wanted to. Trouble is, I'm more fatalistic. I see us so individualized that we lose our sense of community. That what Thomas Jefferson said - I do not agree with you but I will fight to the death for you to have your opinion - will no longer apply and democracy will go the way of the dinosaurs, as will society (now there's a ya novel just waiting to be written). That we will all be linked in, facebooked and co-joined cybernetically, but forget how to interact in person. There's actually already a book on that - Feed, by M.T. Anderson.

There is the smallest part of me, however, that optimist of my youth, that believes mankind might actually still have some chutzpah lurking somewhere deep down that's going to explode out when the instantaneousness gets to be too much. It's the part that wants to make jello from scratch. That does not want everything immediately, right away, yesterday. The one that likes delayed gratification. And it's there. Just look at the book we all love to hate, Twilight. Delayed gratification cubed.

I hope so very much that part of me is right.


kaye said...

I make all my puddings from scratch. It isn't any different than using the box, still all the stirring but the taste is about 100 times better! You should try it. If you want a recipe let me know.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Me, too. I think it would serve our society well to focus on delayed gratification. And I need to watch that movie!

Bee said...

Your "thesis" is interesting; hopefully we will draw back from this dire future. When I think of all of the creativity just spilling out of the blogosphere it makes me hopeful that instant Jello (and other cultural equivalents) will be confined to the low shelf. Yes, there is Costco -- but there is also a renewed enthusiasm for gardening and farmer's markets.

Barrie said...

I tend to think the pendulum will swing back. Could be wishful thinking.