Thought For The Day

Thought For The Day
Resolution Or Vision?

Exactly one year ago, on my 38th birthday, my right eye, already infected with amoebas introduced by a dirty contact lens, went opaque after a particularily smoky Momus show in Atlanta. Now, thanks to a corneal graft operation at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital, I'm starting to get a little sight back in the eye.

I'm also on high doses of steroids and immuno-suppressants, as well as a whole secondary line of drugs whose only purpose is to combat the toxic effects of the other drugs. As a result I'm tired, peevish, paranoid, nervous, intense, weak, fat. (Okay, maybe not fat).

I'm going through with all this treatment voluntarily and with considerable gratitude that I live in a country where it's provided free. But it's making me think about some of the problems built into our concepts of progress in medicine and technology. There was an alternative to the corneal surgery I had last week (and the cataract surgery they're now saying will have to follow it) and that is... simply letting my right eye die.

I actually wouldn't mind that too much. I like wearing the eye patch, it gives me a stronger visual identity and captures people's imagination. To be honest, the only thing I'd be a bit sad about is missing out on 3D television when it finally arrives.

In other words, for aesthetic reasons I would be happy to downsample to a lower resolution (50% of my previous vision, which is still a lot) in return for the knowledge that my general health wouldn't be affected for months and years to come.

But my eye doctors never suggested the 'blind option'. How could they, except as a dark threat? Because western medicine tends not to consider the whole person, let alone their aesthetic values, it conducts a specialised struggle with sick organs in isolation, determined to win through to the utopia of... restoration. Normality. How life was before. The eradication of difference... at any cost.

Of course, I share the macho triumphalism of western medicine, and part of me wants to win, or at least to keep my hope alive. I'm continuing with the treatment.

But my Info Deco side points to the History Of Computer Graphics and says 'Why is Toshio Iwai a genius? Because he had the courage to use an old Amiga instead of a Silicon Graphics Workstation when he made Japanese cult kids' show Ugo Ugo Lhuga, turning a voluntary cut in technical resolution into a triumph for aesthetic values like beauty, simplicity, spontaneity and elegance.

In a week when I'm reassembling my studio to start recording Stars Forever I've discovered that my favourite sequencer program, the simple and brightly-coloured EZVision, no longer works on my whizz bang 300 mHz G3 Mac. So I'm left to struggle with the stern Prussian orderliness and unecessary complexity of high-res programs like Logic.

High end music sequencers, like doctors, are macho. Their real concern is keeping up with their rivals and reflecting the advances in their field. They beckon me down into a widening spiral of complications -- drugs to combat other drugs, patches to patch patches -- which seem to lead me further and further away from simply... being creative.

What's the point of resolution without vision?

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