oooooIt seems to me technology is a phenomenon of nature, with no author. It grows rapidly precisely because nobody is in charge of it, or has a means to stop it. Instead, they argue with it as if it were listening to their questions. They frown about it, and exalt in it; make claims for it, even doubt it with absurd philosophic rigour. But they are talking to a stranger. Technology is a deaf, dumb, and blind beast of nature. And when faced with it one has to reckon with the idea that there can be, at the heart of nature, some spirit so wholly experimental. One cannot vainly think it is a human creation to begin with, just needing control at the moment. But technology is a noxious flower, or a type of gleaming alloy, which will eventually rust. Compare it to a mushroom, an insect, or a determined fungus. Realize its alliance with electricity, which was never invented, but discovered. And then gleefully used, taken over as if it had been invented, bragged about by junior scientists, who always celebrate novelty as if it were progress. We have photography, copy machines, computers; all these processes are aspects of nature. Just because technology brings temporarily stunning adaptations of machines, brings frivolity and artifice into the world, doesn’t mean it isn’t, at root and all its branches, nature. Primitive, hard-driving nature!
Technology is also a game of chance. A gamble. You can’t get around technology, because it outruns conceptual thought. I knew computers were essentially a primitive form of nature, when I heard they were based on the binary number system. It is one hundred percent identical with its applications, which are immediate, obviously random, and inevitable. All you can do is cut it back. Fence it in. (Throw the cellphone in the mud.) Thousands of bees in a hive all working can produce endless honey. Thousands of workers in Silicon Valley don’t need a central boss when they are functioning on base instincts, and each has a task that is part of an unknowable system. The fact that the very latest computer intelligence has its sights on biological systems as a pattern to imitate, shows the instinct at work. Anything can be “reverse engineered”, as the terminology goes. This just requires work. At the end of work, we get a red line and a beep like a on a hospital monitor. We get death. We have just sat back and let the computer grow, because no one has the language that defines it. Just the guttural sounds to express amazement at it’s current size. For lack of any weed killer, the giant weeds take over.
I think one has to be willing to be the adversary of technology. For it is science without use. Science which has turned the corner into rank unlicensed discovery–of dangerously alien powers in nature. We have to realize a new set of juxtapositions,with a fundamental conscious recognition that technology is: nature. Key terms in the discussion of the relationship between nature, and thought, must be employed. Here is where I hear the admonition from the coward– and the voice of a witless general public. “People are part of nature, too” I hear them whining. But here one must be strong. And say no, when faced with the specter of the spectral beast. No, people are not covered by the tag: nature. There is something in us that is NOT of the world of nature, and that is instead traceable to the mystery of conscious existence, and the world of thought.
Once again I long for the levity in my old prose style, and the otherworldly beauty of those verses I wrote, when I was a carefree poet. I opined as in a colloquy of like-minded ones; I used to say, thought has created the idea of the past, and influenced all the content that has ever gone into the history of the world. It has built everything that survives in the present world; and it was not idle passing time that allowed this creativity, but synthetic understandings that have always included humanity (shall we say) in their constructions. But technology, ugh!, as a form of nature, can only build illusions in the illusory temporal space provided by the one aspect of time. It’s hour-glass shall run out. It is mindless, indifferent, scornful: it has exactly that mood about it–producing drastic effects everywhere. Yes, and it has products, new perfumes to cover a smell of something rotting . . . The technology of the present has no past, it is wholly a fabric composed of elements of burgeoning, seductive, even spectacular, aspects of nature. We get only to argue with it by systematic reference to what happens in the present. Must we accept this kind of gift?
You can easily see senseless replication. It seems like there is infinite space to create, or play, but the trash is actually mounting up, and the fatigue has set in. There is duplication, and worse: there is duplicity. Smooth talking technology, with its base in the most primitive of all logic systems, literally a switch, producing a circuit, produces a simulation, and an engine which recognises information solely on a hierarchy of its own making. It feeds and rewards itself. Information is not knowledge; but it is . . . power! The ghost at the heart of this machine is a pig with an appetite, and it can threaten to swallow all appearances. The engineers who organise these computer systems have no idea of any whole of what they are working on. They are all slaves. And there is no whole–that is the problem with nature. We think of it as limitless, but that just means we don’t have the truth. That is part of the puzzle in life–and you don’t solve a puzzle by making more pieces.
Man has long thought that he had escaped some of the scary parts of nature, that is supposed to be what civilization is about; and technology in the average person’s life is advertised as bringing them comforts. Technology is a just that tiny pill. A new shawl made of that new fabric. But watch it closely; that new make-up, those pills, all synthetic, are new living fibers. For nature is inescapable. It is only deceptive because we have lost associations with the primitive forms of nature, and can’t see their reincarnation. Now I reach a fever pitch! Technology is like the reincarnation of idol worship. A left turn around the corner from history, and into the face of . . . the pagan gods.
Less hysterically, I defined technology as “science without use”. Ah, but that is way too gentle and academic. It lets it off the hook. It, this base instinct in nature, has gotten a free pass under the rubric and reputation of science, as if it were part of the scientific revolution that, even a poet admits, involved rational thinking. But science was born in a citadel; this new creation is out on the plains and in the sewers, in air conditioned cubicles by the millions. The dread form of nature that science cannot control, and which art is attracted to like candy. The white filmy stuff that you don’t recall getting on your hands, like riding the escalator, and which no soap can wash off. The popcorn you got at the multiplex cinema that makes you throw up. Have I said too much? What else is in the gaudy pleasure gardens, I mean the potted plants, of technology? Maybe a little something intravenous.