A Progress into Decline

cellphone zombieby Glenn Fairman   2/11/14
Why is it that, as we are beset within a technological garden of machines, anticipating and catering to every nook and crevice of our collective desires, where the evolution of specific knowledge increases exponentially in an accelerating rhythm heretofore unknown in the Ages of Men, all indices point towards an implacable decline into barbarism? A society, yea, a civilization that covets one shimmering trinket after another, that can calculate into infinity the catalogue of the entire earth as a commodity, that speeds farther and faster, and yet goes nowhere – is coming to the end of its existential tether. It does not require a prophet to perform this grotesque augury, as grey steel shoots into the sky to contain the bodies of men whose spirits wither and languish: flushed with the inheritance of their own brutish proclivities.[pullquote]It does not require a prophet to perform this grotesque augury, as grey steel shoots into the sky to contain the bodies of men whose spirits wither and languish: flushed with the inheritance of their own brutish proclivities.[/pullquote]

The maddened hunt for ecstasy cycles into delusion. We see farther but less clearly. We act, but do so with a ponderous impotence, for we do not know for whence we are bound. Our reliance upon dead mechanics has kindled a hunger that the world is increasingly unable to satisfy; and our children, who know nothing other than the instrumental novelties that divert and displace the small inner voice, grow inexorably duller—some becoming more beast than human as they thrash against nature.

Once, in a time nearly forgotten, before the great crescendo of tumult that permeates and crowds out the heavens, before the great lights and rapid movements, before we dared to fashion a lifeless mechanism in the image of Man, one knew that the night was the time to become small, and in the velvet canopy of stars, it was possible to reflect upon thoughts heavier than the universe — meditations that can be scarcely uttered in the dissonant maelstrom. Men’s hands have become hooks and levers to scrape and ratchet the world with a virtuosity that would stun simpler but wiser ages, but in our pride we are retarded orphans to proportion and perspective.[pullquote]…and our children, who know nothing other than the instrumental novelties that divert and displace the small inner voice, grow inexorably duller—some becoming more beast than human as they thrash against nature.[/pullquote]

In truth, our machines have silently become our masters: rendering us helpless and full of blinking emptiness until they dutifully fill our senses with a numberless array of pallid delights. Know this: It is time to clear the scales from our Minds and listen for the sound of tumbling columns. The earth is falling and no Golden Age shall ever proceed from our failing hand. By our own addled choices we are left with only entropy and disillusion – a fate that no veneer of silicon or metal can console our wavering hearts therein, as we descend down that evolutionary ladder approaching absolute zero.
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Glenn Fairman writes from Highland, Ca. He can be reached at arete5000@dslextreme.com. • (955 views)

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3 Responses to A Progress into Decline

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Men’s hands have become hooks and levers to scrape and ratchet the world with a virtuosity that would stun simpler but wiser ages, but in our pride we are retarded orphans to proportion and perspective.

    I read an article the other day (Low Tech Terror on the Grid by Jed Babbin) about the vulnerability of our power grid to terrorism. And as mentioned in that article (or elsewhere…I forget), there is the idea of machines being our slaves. Cut the power off, and our lifestyle is drastically altered.

    Not that silicon and steal ever groans at the master’s whip. That’s not the point of the use of the word “slave,” although the reverse may be apt. In Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, he opinioned that slavery wasn’t good for anyone involved. The masters (and their sons) tended to be turned into dolts because any and all tasks were performed by the slaves. The masters became dullards.

    It’s not just labor-saving electrical conveniences that are the product of technology. I truly believe they are sucking out our brains. Now, one may or may not abide by the evolutionary model of mankind. But I’ve read that it is at least a fact of correlation (if not causation) that when man domesticated the dog, his brain shrunk by 5%. That is, with dogs to protect his hearth and home, man didn’t have to be as bright and resourceful as he used to be.

    Obviously in terms of text messaging, iPads, and iPhones, we’re not talking about changing the size of the brain anytime soon. But we can reprogram our minds, our intellects, and our emotions depending upon what we are doing with our senses and our brains. And it can’t be a good thing that a man (or woman) can’t make it from his front door to the car (or vice versa) without getting on his cell phone. I’ve seen this so many times, it’s hilarious. That walk to the car must be so long and lonely that we must fill the dead air.

    And that is what mankind is doing. They are filling the “dead” air with noise. Now, you or I surely have more respect for that supposedly dead air. “Be still and know that I am god.” Or simply just be still and reflect, pause a moment, catch your breath.

    I tend to think that all this technologizing leads man not to “brutish proclivities” but to a chronic dullness (which can certainly, of course, act as no buffer against other people’s brutish proclivities which is, in part, why we elected Obama…and re-elected him). I think Glenn put his finger on it when he wrote, “the instrumental novelties that divert and displace the small inner voice, grow inexorably duller.”

    You’ve heard of “men without chests” — the inability to form good moral opinions because of a lack of coherent and good moral training. Well, welcome to the world of men without brains. A good indication of this is your typical commercial on TV, or even the typical first-run movie. They are clearly meant to stimulate the brain cells of the idiot, the vulgarian, and/or the chronically dull.

    Even Pavlov’s dog had stimulus-and-response. But we seem to have just stimulus. Keep the mind stimulated. Never experience the dreaded “dead air.” And this will surely lead us to what Glenn calls “the maddened hunt for ecstasy cycles into delusion.”

    I’m not against modern conveniences. I love cool technology. I bought a small portable Garmin GPS last year and am still having fun with it as I take it out on the trail. But mankind must have a certain amount of stillness and introspection in order to have a nervous system more complex than that of a nudibranch — a mollusk which is typically studied because of its very simple nervous system.

    We must develop ourselves beyond the level of a nudibranch. And I’m sure there’s an app for that.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    I am not a luddite by any means. But the cell phone zombie phenomenon is only the tip of the ice berg. I have read recently about two studies. One being that our skills at analytical thinking are languishing because we have oodles of ready available data on hand, and much of it can be said to be politicized or framed towards a desired end. Also, the propensity for kids playing violent and amoral video games is yielding violent amoral kids—imagine that—they are being programed by the very games they enjoy hours on end. As TV has waxed senselessly violent and rap music applauds the misogynistic, materialistic, sensual, and self-destructive life, we are being programmed by our machines (technology) to ourselves be more shellshocked and insensate. Every action movie must outdo the previous one with fantastic violence and destruction and in doing so ups the ante for the next. A society that loses its ability to enjoy quiet introspection loses its ability to think and evaluate; and moreover, it loses its ability to form and develop lasting friendships because a soul that has no depth cannot seek what it lacks in others. My opinion.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    The move toward high-tech barbarism is natural, because true civilization results not from technology, but from objective, non-tribal moral/ethical standards. We sacrifice those at our peril. Once they’re gone, all that technology merely increases our vulnerability.

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