My latest essay on RTÉ Arena is about a bucket list. Have a listen here or gander on for the full text…
I frequently have brief, inspired moments where I feel compelled to do more with my life. The remnants of these whims are scattered about my house. There’s the Irish language course book – half read. The easel buried under a mountain of toys. The tin-whistle rusting in the attic. It’s true that other commitments are partially to blame for the abandonment of these projects but I’ve also been of the belief that they can just be revived at a later date.
My daughter turned eight the other week and watching her open presents by patiently tearing off every last piece of tape on the wrapping I couldn’t help but think how it only seems like yesterday that we would prop her up on a highchair and blow the birthday candles out for her. You see, age is the craftiest of all feckers. By the time you realise you’re old, it’s too late to do anything about it. So I’ve began to draft up a bucket list. I’ll admit, it’s not the easiest of tasks for me, especially as I’m aware at how quickly it could manifest into one long index of chores, those must-fix-up-the-garden type ambitions or the thrilling fantasy of finally clearing out the attic.
Funny, how I will often contemplate a character’s decisions more than my own, attentively charting their ambitions and motives. Recently, I came across an image of Joseph’s Heller’s map for Catch 22, rows and columns with lists of characters and key events and notes to keep in mind for different stages of the plot. There are similar relics from other writers archived across the world, drafts and scribbled ideas from early on in their careers.
With the constant and rapid change of technologies this kind of material could be lost in the modern environment. Likewise, with so many musicians selling digitally there is the risk of many artists vanishing completely from records. Artistic images, photographs, important speeches and videos, the British Library calls it The Digital Black Hole. In an attempt to counteract the problem it has begun to archive whole websites. While in the US, the research library for congress signed an agreement with Twitter allowing it to archive all public tweets. In years to come one of your tweets may help to form an anthropological analysis of today’s society.
Check out what I had for dinner. Hash-tag – Greasy potatoes. Hash tag – Vomit.
Perhaps writers and artists should make a concerted effort to hold onto their digital material, those embarrassing early drafts, the stories that failed to make publication, even that email sent to Aunt Greta explaining why there is so much bad language in the novel. And maybe a catalogue of my own writing should be sitting at the top of my bucket list. After that, I’ll be free to concentrate on the more exciting challenges in life, like getting around to tasting a cloud berry or a dragon fruit. Or my greatest of all ambitions, finally learning how to speak French without a Dublin accent…
Ouest le marché de fruits s’il vous plait?