Friday, January 19, 2007

Saved by the surf

Parts of this article will appear in 'Why Lawyers Should Surf'' (co-authored with Dr Michelle Tempest) which is now available on Waterstone's website here or can be ordered from XPL Publishing on 0870 079 8897 (p&p is included). Extracts from the book can be found here. To see a review of the book in The Independent click here.

The other day I quoted leading whale expert Roger Payne who argued in Among Whales that these great mammals would "enter our minds, and how once inside they would metastasize and diffuse throughout the whole engine of human ingenuity" and eventually bring us back to nature and ourselves. On reflection, another image which has entered our minds and diffused throughout the same engine of human ingenuity is that of surfing itself in relation to the internet. It provided a perfect description for the freedom and movement which the information superhighway could provide not only in the sharing of information but also in connecting communities together, just as the oceans flow from one to another.

Some surf writers have railed at the idea that non-surfers should be acquiring this word and particularly for something which couldn’t on the face of it be further from paddling out into the sea, perhaps most articulately by Andy Martin as far back as 1995. Writing in The Independent, he said in particular:

"'Surfing the Net' is not just a piece of innocent poeticlicence. There is a sinister undertow, a clear danger ofhard- won lived experience being swept away by pixels...the sinister implicationof terminal terminology is that 'There is nothing beyondthe Web.' Being is being on the Net...Let's compromise. I promise not to lose my cool everytime you surf the Net on the condition that if you slipand press the wrong key you download death in amillion-volt wipeout."

However, just as whales may ultimately save us by firing up visions of the natural world, so it is with surfing. Computer hacks the world over may be using the word without much thought but underneath they are stoking the fires of their imagination. It is the ocean in the human soul which is awakened by these gentle breezes. Our deeper selves. They have always been in us. Whales. Surfing. They are the routes within. The means.


Paula the Surf Mom said...

and it is post like this that keep me coming back here... loved it Kev

Tim Kevan said...

Thanks Paula. That is very much appreciated.