Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Technology has made the Metaphysical become Physical

This is the first in a series of posts about the paradox presented between John Donne's poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" and modern-day, technology-driven relationships.  I argue that as new media tools have become mainstream, all of our relationships have become transcendent of physical distance, a metaphysical ideal Donne cherished.  It is now the relationships that are "elemented" by physical closeness, the type that Donne reserved for "dull, sublunary lovers", that are the ideal.  Essentially, since all of our relationships are transcendent of space, it is the relationships that are transcendent of cyberspace that are the most meaningful.

John Donne wrote "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" as a gift to his wife before he left on a long trip abroad.  To the modern reader, the poem is basically a verbalization of everything a long-distance relationship should stand for.  He emphasizes their spiritual connection, their fidelity, their reliance upon each other, and the joy of their ultimate reunification.  These things are highly valued in today's society and in our pop culture, but perhaps not rightly so.  Technology has profoundly affected the ways in which we form and maintain relationships to the extent that our relationships no longer need to be grounded in real life to be legitimate.

With this in mind, I argue that relationship ideals have been flipped.  Through technology, we have become more than metaphorically able to connect with the people we love no matter where we are, and metaphysical concepts have therefore become a reality. Through a close textual analysis of the "Valediction", an analysis of the philosophical concepts that influenced Donne's writing, and research into the nature of modern relationships, I hope to prove that "keeping it real" is the best way to show our romantic love.

UPDATE (5/3/10):  Just to clarify, I'm using the poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" to prove that our romantic relationships are still essentially the same as John Donne wrote about them being, but, because society has changed so much due to technology, our relationships are strengthened more by physical proximity than by metaphysical connection.  Donne's writing indicates that he would certainly disagree with this, but the cultural phenomena associated with technological advances prove that it is true.

Other Posts:
Ambient Intimacy
Textual Analysis: Profanation of Our Joys (Living in a Post-Facebook Culture)
Textual Analysis: Sublunary Lover's Love (The Importance of "Things as They Really Are")
Textual Analysis: Gold to Aery Thinness Beat (What it Means to be Plugged In)
Textual Analysis: Twin Compasses (Conclusions)

**The above photo is titled "the metaphysical striving for the infinite and unreachable".  Fitting, right?  I also think it's pretty.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Interesting! There's one thing I'm not clear on though. If relationships that are "real" are more meaningful because they transcend cyberspace, will Donne serve to support that argument? Will you be comparing Donne's ideals to cyberspace or to reality? I hope that makes sense. I probably just don't know enough about Donne and metaphysics to understand perfectly.

Also, you might think about linking this post to posts you have previously done, as well as to posts you might do in the future. Just a thought!