Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Condensing Time

Last month (April 21), I blogged about the 24/7 lifestyle that technology has conferred on us. Roberta Lewis called from New Hampshire this AM, where she was visiting one of her clients. She had a quick job for me, had already hand-written a rough and wanted to fax it to me. I told her I didn’t have a fax machine. “Old technology,” I said, sidestepping the fact that I’ve intended to get one but haven’t. (I partially credit the fax machine with the downfall of the Soviet Union, BTW.)

It’s not old technology – but we keep moving faster and faster.

We also keep forgetting that the increasing velocity of life is old news. Thanks to a fine article in this morning’s Houston Chronicle, by Food Editor Peggy Grodinsky, I was reminded again.

She’s written about condensed milk and its inventor, Gail Borden. A great read with a lot of history to it. Borden (above, right) was one of those Promethean 19th Century gents who relished the advance of technology and calculated its effect on the daily lives of millions. In a ‘graph in the middle of her long article, Grodinsky quotes from a biography of Borden:

The world is changing in the direction of condensing…Time was when people…would spend hours at a meal. Napolelon never took over 20 minutes…I am through in 15.

Grodinsky’s article is one more reminder that there’s little that's new under the sun. That our lives are constantly accelerating. It didn’t start with the computer, the fax machine or the telephone. It’s been going on for 200-plus years: what the Industrial Revolution really means. It’s as well to say that technology condenses time the same way that Borden condensed milk.

It’s hard to be politically correct and blame McDonald’s for our fast food addiction when it’s been growing for a couple of centuries.

Photo from Gail Borden Public Library District, Elgin, IL. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Enjoyed your blog. There's another funny/apt quote on the ever quicker pace of modern life from Borden (again, thanks to the wonderful Frantz biography) that I didn't have space to use (my article had to be condensed, too!). Here it is:

"Even lovers write no poetry, nor any other stuff and nonsense, now. They condense all they have to say, into a kiss."

Peggy Grodinsky
Houston Chronicle Food Editor