The World at ! (not a typo)
Galileo said that
The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do
And here we are, doing nothing else, when there is important work, like ripening grapes. Or ideas. Having spent yet another holiday morning answering emails about the latest work crisis, I think about these things. To be fair, I answered an email from someone who I’ve talked to – who has said more than just the usual round of work-related nonsense – who stepped outside the gate and acted as a human – or at least what human might be imagined to be now – they asked me a question – at the risk of insinuating that the leaders were confused – and in the political mire of my work – that means there really is a problem. As in – what the fuck is going on?
As above, so below.
In a world of Zoom meetings, what happens to those who read the room? Not just those who used that perception to gain followers, the so-called charismatic, but those who learned to gauge the response in order to avoid abuse, or anger, or just to – stay alive.
I present – the awesome, and yet awesomely terrifying internet-compliant interface – no need to implant anything – idea that we will evolve to being able to see emotions on our screens – yes, even within the tiny blocks that represent the people we used to see and not touch. We didn’t touch that much anyway.
In some ways, it will make it easier to dismiss everything. That box you were about to put me into – I’m already there! That email you ignored – it’s just electronic – electricity has no feelings. All our feelings transmitted by waves? Ignore all that. You would have dismissed the inconvenient anyway. The little trash can, ironic symbol of delete, so much easier than actually having to turn and walk away.
Careful out there, campers. There is going to have to be a middle ground between ignoring our brave new world and acknowledging that our touchy feely clique producing selves will be able to do this at distance. What will that mean, 40 years from now? 20 years ago, we had visionaries like David Bowie – this interview in particular – minute 10 if you have no attention span, Jeremy Paxman with the typically gurning and dismissive facial expressions that say – it’s just a pop star I’m interviewing – not a politician or someone important like that – acknowledge and respect – the power of a medium whose means were not even fully formed. Notice it. Notice all around you. The people calling to maintain the local businesses are not just keeping a group of people alive – they are also sending out the siren song of a way of life which is going…going…gone. Before it was the relationship between artist and audience, as Bowie says, that was only consummated, if you like, once the audience was there. Now – now we have the relationship between each other – which is only consummated once it is observed. Perhaps fiction has always made this true. But we relied on intermediaries, and the truth within a story, the known and the unknown, the parameters of which seemed to descend from the gods, or at least the Greeks. Now – we will face our loneliness and know that for the moment, there is only the response from the crowd. And that they are both wrong, and right. And yet again, all that will be left to us is to survive, and look up. To continue. To hope, dream, and avoid cruelty. Or not. For many will just use all this as a way to grasp the greasy pole as always.
So much of religion is about judgment. And TikTok tells us to forgive ourselves. The electronic messiah.
And survive we must. For we are animals, and that is what we do. And when you are about to kill a bug and you see it twitch, and understand the circumstances it is under, and you ignore it…aren’t you ignoring yourself?
We adapt…but there is still a point in writing down the changes you see. Look at the videos of the daily commutes from 50 or 70 years ago. The world your parents and grandparents lived in is gone, and the relics and remnants remain. Build your rock cairn to mark this place – for you will come this way again, and you’ll want to know you were here. Or tie a rope to it, as you rappel upwards, a leash to something you’d otherwise forget, lost in the fog, or just lost.