Friday, August 29, 2014

No room for civilization

A planet containing wild humans leaves no room for industrial civilization.

That sentence might seem to have things the wrong direction. From the perspective of a thoroughly colonized mind, it is civilization that has the power to leave no room.

But the logic of the sentence stands as written. Wild humans have been a problem for civilization from the beginning. And the solution has almost always been genocide. Wild humans, being complete in themselves, lack the psychological substrate necessary for civilization to operate—there is nothing for civilization to latch onto. Civilization and wildness are incompatible. Human wildness engenders a fullness of experience that literally leaves no room for civilization.

From a civilized standpoint, the application of overwhelming deadly force becomes the only viable option. But, then, the application of overwhelming deadly force is not restricted to wild humans. Any human choosing to act in a genuinely human way risks triggering civilized methods of containment.

Witness the cops in full military dress rolling through Ferguson, MO—quick to use fear as a patch for any leaks that might form in the white-walls of authority.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Contact versus connectivity

Spectacle long ago replaced community, spectatorship instead of participation, vicariousness instead of presence. A shared and penetrating narrative, an intimate evening around a communal fire, to sing, to dance, to tell stories, to laugh, and sometimes to cry, has become an insulated and isolating narcissistic touchscreen fiction.

Social networking through social media is just that, social contact reduced to mere connectivity, human interaction digitized and packaged and commodified and stripped of all meaning—community becomes a collection of patterned connections among empty nodes, hollow echoes bouncing through a billion electronic tunnels to nowhere.

We are drawn into this ersatz experience out of misplaced fear—180 degrees misplaced. Our loneliness makes us afraid of being alone. The triviality of life makes us afraid we might miss something important, afraid to blink. Our lack of authentic meaning makes us vampires of the superficial, attempting to siphon a tiny soul-warming drop of relevance from a cold mass-produced two-dimensional flame.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Smartphones can do anything

A recent news headline boasted “Researchers Use Smartphone App to Track Gut Bacteria.” The important detail that gut bacteria can affect your health in subtle ways was sidelined in favor of the sensationalistic (and fallacious) implication that there is a cell phone app that can monitor your intestinal fauna. It is part of the news media’s mission to paint a sparkly veneer over all forms of technology, and to reinforce the delusional belief that humankind is rapidly approaching a techno-utopian future in which every problem will have a simple touchscreen solution.

The cell phone's role in the study was considerably more prosaic, of course. Basically, it was used as a sophisticated clipboard for the study's participants to record their diet and exercise. "Cell Phone App Replaces Pen and Notebook for Collecting Data" doesn't carry quite as much punch.