A Vision of Isolating Technology from 1906

A Vision of Isolating Technology from 1906

A Vision of Isolating Technology from 1906 (Source: Public Domain Review via Diseases of Modern Life)

no outlaws, no frontiers: distilled dreams of ruddy ducks and stolen laptops

Outlets outlawed now left to hold the plug. Outlaws stripped of outlets now seeking power strips. Strip the sheathing, splice the wires: false positives abound, red lights across the board. Unplug, recede, fade to weathered wood. Where to get it when it’s gone, the juice, the power draw, to make every day a tinderbox. The ones who screamed and strummed to counter black water in their boots, rising to their necklines: they are now gone by their own hands. Even plugged in they couldn’t hack the mainframe for a pure and steady flow. Outside these walls, beyond the concrete circuit, maybe it’s there and maybe not: a circuit board of our own making. But what we know is here brings false power, interrupted flow: devices to distract, minds splayed across these screens, ground into lettered, numbered squares. I’m between out there and in here, taking ragged breaths, one foot in shadow soup, one hand tracing rote designs. I stare across the pond, power-stripped and faded, wondering about that duck.

recycling with the mayans

Straighten your papers, the ones you never look at. Never touch a paper twice, that’s what they say. Avoid information overload! Never touch a paper twice. Look at it and file it or throw it out. Don’t straighten your papers then, see if I care. Log in. Er, try to log in. Oops, forgot your password. How many are in your head. How many are the same. You fool! Don’t use the same one twice! You must use a combination of four numbers, three symbols, and no less than six letters. We will not accept anything less. Also we’ll need you to change it again as soon as you begin to remember it. Forget it the first time you try to log in. Request new password. Make up new one, but not the same as your email password. And don’t use your pet’s name. Your neighbor might hear you calling him outside and hack into your account. Throw a few papers out to make yourself feel better. It’s okay, I know you touched them already. Just throw them out so you won’t touch them again. There, isn’t that better? Now go outside and breathe in some car fumes. It might be better than recycled office air but honestly science hasn’t bothered to find out. No corporate funding would touch that kind of study. So it’s still up in the air. [Don’t laugh at that!] Walk around and pretend you’re not an insignificant speck, not just another cog in the machine (you are, even though you purport not to be by affecting a continuous broadcast of apathy and cynicism to the world, and to yourself– the worst and most damaging lies are always to yourself. We learn this over time.). Return to the office. Pick up another stack of paper from your mailbox. Leave it on your desk for weeks to gather the appropriate office patina. Then recycle it. Or think you’re recycling it. Everyone knows the cleaning staff just throws it all in the trash anyway. It’s common knowledge. It doesn’t matter. Recycling can’t save us, Derrick Jensen says. Only complete destruction of civilization will save us. Would you prefer that? Read The Road by Cormac McCarthy and check back with me. I’ll make tea and we can pontificate. Then we’ll pack our emergency preparedness kits. Leave work behind now. Go home and attend to the needs there, the ones behind the scenes of everyone’s public life. Nourish your body. Attempt to nourish your mind but mostly just numb it and then maybe squeeze in a little bit of nourishment before sleep. If you’re lucky when you’re out late walking you’ll look up and see Venus glowing above the rooftops. Or maybe a full moon. If you’re lucky a breeze will rustle the cottonwood leaves and leave you breathless. But you won’t be lucky tonight because it’s winter and the branches are bare. So go to sleep and dream of spring. Dream about the end of civilization. Dream of anything at all. Like Amy Hempel says, that’s where most of us get what we want.

thomas merton

I have always held a certain fascination with monks. At various times in my life, I’ve wondered if I should enter a monastery. A life of seclusion, contemplation, freedom from the burdens of modern society: it all sounds good to me. Of course, I’m not too keen on the abstinence thing, but I suppose it wouldn’t be such a special way of life if some sacrifices weren’t made. Lately I have been reading some of Trappist monk Thomas Merton’s writings and very much enjoying them. I just wanted to share a couple of quotes that resonated with me. I think Thomas and I would’ve had a few things to talk about, had we ever met.

“Technology has its own ethic of expediency and efficiency. What can be done efficiently must be done in the most efficient way—even if what is done happens, for example, to be genocide or the devastation of a country by total war. Even the long-term interests of society, or the basic needs of man himself, are not considered when they get in the way of technology. We waste natural resources, as well as those of undeveloped countries, iron, oil, etc., in order to fill our cities and roads with a congestion of traffic that is in fact largely useless, and is a symptom of the meaningless and futile agitation of our own minds.”

“The attachment of the modern American to his automobile, and the symbolic role played by his car, with its aggressive and lubric design, its useless power, its otiose gadgetry, its consumption of fuel, which is advertised as having almost supernatural power…this is where the study of American mythology should begin.

Meditation on the automobile, what it is used for, what it stands for—the automobile as weapon, as self-advertisement, as brothel, as a means of suicide, etc.—might lead us at once into the heart of all contemporary American problems: race, war, the crisis of marriage, the flight from reality into myth and fanaticism, the growing brutality and irrationality of American mores.”

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