Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Secondhand Transmission From a Distant World

Everyone is an alien to someone.

I'm in my late 20s. To anyone under the age of 18 today, I'm from a world they have never been to, and never will. A world we call the 1980s. It was inhabited by creatures with big curly hair that listened to cheesy pop music and grazed on Pixy Stix and Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip (aka sand you can eat). I grew up there; I have vivid memories of the world around me and the formative first experiences I had in it. But anyone under 18, they can only dream of such things.

See, this isn't even the packaging I remember, but it's all I could find on the internet. That old Lik-M-Aid packaging, it's lost to time; it only exists in my memory of that alien world (and maybe partially rotted in an old box in someone's basement).

Space aliens are separated from us by distance; we are separated from other people by time. But really, time is just the distance between two things that happen in the same place.

Which, of course, means that anyone older than me is an alien too. If a little grey man stepped out of a flying saucer that carried him from a planet I could never visit, I'd be treating him like a sort of god, asking him every question I could think of. Maybe elders should be treated with the same respect and reverence.

This isn't limited to time. The subjective experience of any one person can't, by definition, be experienced by other people. To anyone else, it's an alien sensation that can only be indirectly and imperfectly expressed. But even second-hand transmissions from the alien landscape of another person's mind should be fascinating. Indeed, it's what makes conversation with someone new so great. It's what gives mass expressions of one's consciousness - art, music, poetry, writing, whatever - their magic. SETI is cool 'n everything, but Earth's own idiosyncratic aliens are just as fascinating.



Andrew Procter said...

I had a long argument with friends about the colour of the fun dip sticks. I said they're white, they said they're off-white, more pinkish.

What do you say?

Phronk said...

They definitely were pinkish back when I was heavily into them. Modern iterations might be different though.

An Unconventional Mummy said...

I would classify the stik as bonewhite rather than cream.
Yr right, gen X loves pixisticks and lik m stiks. A superior cultural representation compared to er crappy 80's pop music.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Hey..the eighties where a time zone anybody born after 1990 WISHES they were a part of. Future generation will see it as the pinacle of human culture...or am I living in my own head too much again...with my glitter glove, eye liner and boom box.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Oh and one more thing..BITCHIN psychological explanation of human connectiveness and isolation. I will remember it when I need to relate to some idiot.

Phronk said...

An Unconventional Mummy: They must have changed then, because they were totally light salmony pink back in my day.

Calvin: Thanks. My main purpose is to help people connect with idiots.

The Queen said...

Man, I use to eat the heck out of the Fun Dip! lol I always loved eating the stick but it was pretty darn nasty now that I think about it. In grade school, the cool thing to do was eat koolaid.I know, I know. It was koolaid without the water. Everyone would bring it in ziplock bags and all the kids have different colored fingers. Why in the world am I telling you this? lol

Shora said...

In my day (whippersnapper!) it was Popeye Cigarettes. I'm talking before they became Popeye Candy Sticks, back then they had red ends and the adults thought it was adorable when we pretended to smoke them. Ah the good old days.