What you say hits too close to home. I don’t think electronic life has taken me away from a real one, and I still write poems. However, I want to post here the concept of “Primary Causality”. A term coined by my favourite Architecture professor, Juhani Pallasmaa (Finnish, very famous and a warm, wonderful man).
Anyway, the idea of primary causality is one where human beings can perceive a primary relationship between cause and effect. For example, when you collect the twigs and wood, and light a fire, the warmth you feel from that fire and the light that is shed from it is a direct effect of your action. The primary causality of the situation is entirely removed when you flip a switch or you sit in front of a heater. We have no direct part in how that heat or the light is produced and indeed, we cannot begin to imagine or understand that relationship. On the other hand understanding the relationship between you and the sun or you and the twigs that burned is a more primary analysis and comes more naturally and leads to a better idea of what it means to dwell on the Earth.
Human beings need primary causality. Maybe it’s psychological maybe physiological. First world countries with their “developments” remove the primary causality from our lives. There is no perceived relationship between the shrink wrapped plastic thing in a styrofoam tray and the beaked and feathered thing in the farm yard, except for an image on the label. And eventually an image in your mind, but the image doesn’t suffice. The effect of primary causality comes through even when things are one or two steps removed. The hand craftings of the stone masons on Indian temples still touches our souls because we can imagine the hand of the craftsman as he creates. It is still human. The extrusions of steel are far harder to feel in the soul. And so Westerns jump and pay their $$ for “hand crafted” stuff, where we don’t understand the value of them because primary causality is ever present in our third world lives.
And the lack of it causes changes in us, physiologically and psychologically. We cannot feel things in the same way and we lose our intrinsic understanding of nature and our position within it.
Anyway, I’ve spent hours and hours (I’ve been in this country 7 years!) thinking about these things and I feel the same frustration that you do. Unfortunately, India is moving ahead in the same manner without thought. And it makes me question and be skeptical of what “ahead” really means!
That make a lot of sense to me. With her permission, I put it here so that perhaps someone else can read it and understand what causes the inexplicable empty feeling deep down inside…