For some reason, our website has been inundated with spam recently, and our nice clean posts are getting besmeared with scads of gobbledygook. What to do? Who knows? I tend to be a technological fatalist; whatever will be, will be, and trying to divine the functions of technology is beyond my ken. Technology giveth, technology taketh away, blessed be the name of technology.
This was definitely not the attitude of my cousin, Larry White, whose mother and my father were brother and sister. As long as I knew him, which was as long as I have known anyone, Larry was entranced with technology, especially imaging technology. Larry was a child of the age of mechanical reproduction. Larry never had any doubts about what he wanted to do, what he wanted to be, and how he wanted to spend his life. He wanted to work with cameras, with video equipment, with computers. And that’s just what he did. He studied photographic technology in college, and became a photographic engineer, and for many years was in charge of the photographic laboratory at Modern Photography, measuring lenses, timing f-stops, evaluating all the latest innovations in imaging. It has been a remarkable thirty years as we have moved from film to digital imaging, and gone through God knows how many generations of computing technology. Larry was on top of it all. For me, technology is a necessary evil. Whenever I figure out how something works, I am loathe to change my routine, which means I am generally dragged, kicking and screaming, into whatever the latest generation of innovation, and generally adapt only when it is absolutely necessary. Larry always had to have the latest in everything, just because it was there. Technology for most people was a means to an end. For Larry technology was an end in itself. For some, technology acquisition is a sign of immaturity, e-braggadocio. Not Larry. He needed to get the latest technology the same way I need to read the latest book, not to show off, but just to add to his store of knowledge.
For most of us, for me, anyway, technology is a form a magic, of which I have no real understanding. I press a few buttons, things work, and I am satisfied. But Larry not only had to have the latest technology, he needed to understand it, how to manipulate it, how to make it work to his advantage. Technological ignorance is one of the besetting sins of our age. We learn from our technology how to be manipulated, and the lesson sticks. Larry was an exception. Larry loved and understood technology, and love begets understanding, and understanding begets love. And Larry was generous. He would always share his knowledge, his possessions, and always try to explain, again and again, how things work. He was a decent, a caring, a happy man, who loved his family and friends, and without, as far as I knew, an edge or a dark side.
Larry died last Friday. He was only 54, one year younger than me. He leaves behind his lovely wife, Esther, and his grieving and uncomprehending parents, Helen and Billy. He was diagnosed with cancer on Labor Day weekend last, but the cancer was virulent, and after a valiant fight, he succumbed. The Eisenstadts have seemed like the House of Atreus recently, with unimaginable tragedy piled upon unimaginable tragedy. I don’t know what to say other than he was taken much too soon, and that it seems unfair that if God grants me another decade or so, I will get to play with some new technical toy that Larry never got to see. All of the eulogies at his funeral mentioned his abiding love of Star Trek. What can one say? He has been beamed up, and all of us, in the wake of his passing, are a little more dematerialized. Goodbye, Larry. Cameras can do a lot of things, but they can never capture the essence of a good man.