What is the tradeoff? And who decides that it's worth it?
So many excellent thought provoking ideas here and so much of life we could apply it to, but most importantly, leading with love from the heart is what will shift everything. When we are all doing that, the world will change. It must. That’s the way nature works.
Amen. The other day I read a "pro-tech" author who cited Grace Hopper: "The most dangerous phrase in the English language is 'we have always done it this way. "
In fact the worship of novelty is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of science, and "we have always done it this way" is the PRECISE DEFINITION OF SCIENCE. Traditions are formed from thousands of painful experiments, with negative feedback gradually focusing toward the optimal solution. That's the scientific method.
Reversing a well-formed tradition is BLASPHEMING the thousands of lives that were devoted to finding the solution.
There is this sanity in what you say and love and I have to admit that it has a calming effect on me. You have a gift, Tessa. Thank You!
Fantastic. The anecdote from the movie about the engineer being the first victim of the trap he just constructed is akin to us building our own digital cage today. Thank you as always for poignant essay.
Every libertarian and objectivist, capitalist and so on ever:
"Property rights are the sacred fundamental right of all other rights and freedoms, and how /I/ exploitmy land is nobody's business but mine!"
Which they then immediately start to hem and haw and caveat when someone says: "Cool, then you can't object when I build my paper mill upstream from your mansion, famrland and grazing areas, and pump out the sludge right into the river - it's my plant, it's my land and the river passes through my land!"
Of course, in reality, people with those egotistical value-sets never live where they shit, since they do not care about other humans.
Good technology gives us tools to solve problems - like in your aqueduct example, the opposite is also true: getting rid of human waste in a useful and safe manner turns it into a resource. This was done by - among many others- saxons and teutons by a sort of reverse aqueducts: shit troughs leading from the village to a communal midden away from any water source.
Technology which removes human agency is a problem.
Technology will rob us of our humanity unless (as you said) we lead with Love. We may think differently but can Love the same. Thank you for this wonderfully written article - your Light shines bright . . .
Nature can and did mean technology in the sense of the technology of the sacred. Shamans are technologists. The spirits of nature reveal technologies we can't approach with our synthetic focus. Where is technology in the modern sense not destructive? I mean, flush toilets are not destructive and like that. But complex technologies do not exist without them being about making money, lots of it. And that brings with it corruption, lies, abandonment of sane focus. I'm sure you can find an exception or two to what I'm saying, but as long as this world is structured around making fortunes, the end result is manipulation. One talks about the panopticon as an image for the surveillance state, but the panopticon can just as well be seen as a metaphor for those making billions by looking in every direction for whatever they can control
We're here to fight. That's what life is, and love is what's worth fighting for. Land, love and freedom.
Yes, the externalize the costs, but they make sure it is external to their lives.
So much of what you say resonates with me...I think we would be the best of friends. Thank you for your valuable and honest writing. It's all logical stuff but why the masses don't understand what life is all about I don't know.
It's a good article that gets one thinking about a profound, meaningful topic, like economic systems, governmental structure, religion, love, hate, evil, how to just make things work better. This article got me thinking about a dozen or so such topics! Without resolution of course, there's never that. I finally concluded in my 60's, grudgingly, the battle isn't winnable. Human beings are too flawed, in too many ways. Even most good ones are too trusting and obedient, thus empowering evil. If enough people saw things like Tessa, we'd be fine, more than fine. Such people are not numerous enough to comprise the critical mass needed to form a good society. There's only one thing that works, albeit poorly, but at least it has been known to work better than anything else. Which is, a mostly benevolent dogma/power structure. Christianity for all its flaws was the best influence on civilization ever - mostly it pushed things in the right directions. I don't see a resurgence, and all its replacements are destructive. So here we are. Personally I think all religions are probably total BS, but most people are authoritarian followers and need direction outside themselves. They are not remotely capable of being well-intentioned critical thinkers. To think they ever will be is naive. I mean, look around.
Burke ties together the modern inventions in which previous episodes had culminated: telecommunications, the computer, the jet engine, plastics, rockets, television, the production line, and the atomic bomb. All of these inventions come together in the B-52 nuclear bomber. Start with the plow, you get irrigation, pottery, craftsmen, civilisation and writing, mathematics, a calendar to predict floods, empires, and a modern world where change happens so rapidly you cannot keep up. What do you do? Stop the change? Throw away all technology and live like cavemen? Decide what change will be allowed by law? Or just accept that the world is changing faster than we can keep up with? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connections_(British_documentary)#Series_1_(1978)
Shortcuts often reveal mistakes, blind spots, and all too often, harm.
Civilization has been existing off of short cuts for centuries. Eventually you pay for the short cuts, whether you admit to it or not. There will be a reckoning.
Im curious - have you read (or listened to) A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright? Personally, I believe that it is one of the most important and lucid explorations of the civilizational crisis staring us in the face. And yes, the Myth of Progress is absolutely central to the mythology of statism, which is the death cult leading us closer and closer to our own annihilation.
Paul Cudenec does a masterful job of undermining this myth throughout his body of work, notably in Forms of Freedom and The Withway. From the latter work:
“Historical humankind has been mesmerized by
the narrative of progress”, writes Scott,
echoing Ellul, and his own research shows that
the same is true of the narrative of the state.
The principal myth by which we are misled
is that, during the long history of humankind,
state control has been the norm.
The first states to emerge were “minuscule
affairs both demographically and geographically...
a mere smudge on the map of the ancient
world,” Scott writes. Far from representing the
global status quo, these states were “tiny nodes
of power surrounded by a vast landscape
inhabited by nonstate peoples”.
This remained true for thousands of years.
States were very much the exception and most of
the world’s population continued to live outside
“In much of the world there was no state at
all until quite recently”, he writes. “Outside their
reach were great congeries of ‘unadministered’
peoples assembled in what historians might call
tribes, chiefdoms, and bands. They inhabited
zones of no sovereignty or vanishingly weak,
Our understanding of this reality has long
been skewed by the fact that only states, with
their cities, monuments and written records,
tend to leave behind evidence which can later be
discovered by archaeologists and historians.
The life-without-state which existed for long
periods over large expanses of the Earth left
“little or nothing in the way of records”, explains
Rather than regarding such societies as
periods of disintegration and disorder in between
the rise and fall of glorious state civilizations, we
might regard them as the natural condition from
which humankind has occasionally deviated.
But to do so would be to break the taboo by
which the existence of a state is presented as an
absolutely necessary pre-condition for any kind
of decent human existence.
Probably one of the scariest sentences I've yet come across in the english language is "The military people were very excited."
Stanley Kubrick, General "Buck" Turgidson, Slim Pickens (and his final lethal wet-dream to oblivion), and the entire recent history of empire and civilization come to mind.
But on a more serious note, the two issues we might reflect upon when it comes to "technology" are the issues of scale and abstraction.
When a planet-wrapping techno-industrial civilization comes to be built, whether by *predators or the megamachine termites under their control, the sheer scale of its impacts escape the very consciousness of most mortals. We become as fish in water ; bugs in amber; subatomic particles within the smashing confines of the Hadron Collider. This is the paradox of the ideology of "Better Living Through Chemistry" (or Science) that the various and sundry Dr. Strangelove's have been pushing on us for some time now. And of course it sets in motion a sort of perpetual Arms Race against the mere and given natural world. Suddenly we become obsessed with the desire to "de-bug" all the obstacles and imperfections that our newfound supremacy perceives as pesky hindrances to our techno-utopian destination. Hence the Eco-modernists, the CRISPR disciples and the by now glib conversations about human enhancement and human augmentation within the high circles of academia, the military and corporatocracy.
There is a somewhat obscure though important little book written by Holocaust survivor Ursula Franklin, (a Canadian of German origin). It was based on her series of Massey Lectures entitled "The Real World of Technology" given some time back. In it she made the critical distinction between what she called "prescriptive" technologies - those that determine how we end up doing things (and that we have no real agency or recourse to controlling) vs. "holistic" technologies - those that we invent, create, use and repair as we see fit. an example of the first would be a nuclear reactor; the second a potter's wheel.
The problem I think is that we have unwittingly permitted - through many generations - a bewildering complexity of systems within systems within systems. It's no wonder the world is being eviscerated and exsanguinated and that we don't even know who we are, where we are, what we're doing and why anymore. It's also no wonder that everything appears to be going batshit crazy right in front of us.
We have estranged ourselves from ourselves and our home.
*Predators: Tessa, I am reassured to see that you are not at all Lena-ient on the predators.
seems to me that the place where "progress" really went off the rails was where technology became digitized. we used analog technology to come up with all kinds of horrible things, but we also invented the fender guitar and the hammond organ, and two-inch tape and vinyl records.
do we really need synthesizers and drum machines? and mp3s and spotify datamining and surveillance? i say no. any technology that limits our freedom defeats the whole point we invented technology in the first place.