Last night I went out for my best friend from Monash's 25th.
It was a great night. We went to some fancy cocktail bar and I was wearing flanno (flanny for the Melbournites) so I didn't theoretically fit in at all, but it was great to catch up with the old mates - and some new ones.
What made me laugh was just how easily old friends (re)connect. I arrived on time and it took about 10 minutes for half a dozen of us to describe our last year to each other, at which point we grabbed martinis and talked about now.
By this I mean making real conversation off the cuff, without having to rely on old stories to stimulate input. One of Suz's best mates I'd never met - a Dane by the name of 'Danish' - had flown in from Denmark as a surprise. At six foot eight, the guy was a behemoth, but we hit it off instantly, cracking terrible jokes and talking about the differences between our penal systems.
The drink and the conversation flowed freely, moving effortlessly between big things and little things, but what really stood out was that everyone present could talk to anyone else about almost anything and there was nothing to be embarrassed about, regardless of how well we knew each other.
As a cohort, we made a crack about leaving all of this off Facebook, which we did. For a few hours, we just existed in a world of our own, not answering phones, not being distracted.
Several of us talked about our research, others chatted about work or whatever was on our minds.
As the place closed, I shared a cab with one of the girls and she ended up staying at my place, with all of the things that style of interaction usually entails.
At around 6am, I sat on my balcony with a cup of tea and watched the sun come up. I watched it until I started to nod off, and crawled into my shared bed for a few hours of sleep.
I awoke to a note on my neighbouring pillow with thanks for the evening, some lipstick - and no phone number.
I smiled, then cooked up a great breakfast before riding in to work.
I had almost no hangover, even though I'd consumed the same quantity as a Darwinian polar bear and a giant Danish Ned Kelly lookalike. Sure I burned a fair bit off during early morning 'exercise', but there was something about the nature of the entire evening that just screamed pre-media.
I can't quite put my finger on it but I felt like I was 20 again, with the added bonus of ten years extra experience.
This is what I'm trying to get at with theatre as a precursor to (and aim of) new media. There is something about connecting that can't be done through mediation, but as the world becomes more mediated we have to rely on it regardless. The gist is to make it as invisible as possible, and the way is to skip small-talk, to go straight to medium talk.
If we connect without restraint (except for general manners), we become closer, no matter what the mediation. Theatre has this always in mind, but much new media still focuses on the ability to capture moments, even though lives are not just snapshots of food but the experience of eating it.
There is some slow dramaturgy at work here (see Eckersall) about tangible sensations like eating, knitting, gardening and quite possibly sex that cannot be replicated in static media.
This cannot be broached in small talk either. At the very least we need discussion to begin with the medium.
Again with the English, Danish.