Friday, February 23, 2007
The Canary in the Coal Mine
Our lab's colony of moths is dying...horrible mutations where we all work...there are so many possible sources its impossible to test for. Maybe our society is doomed, everything wrong with it, the chortling moans of ever-increasing numbers of mentally retarded, the true voice of our generation. Nothing is right.
We've only managed to show that we can satisfy artificially manufactured desires, replacing traditional sustainable natural solutions with inferior glitzy saccharine placebos. TV for sunsets, Chain restaurant fast food for raw local slow produce. Our values are wrong: slow and quiet and uneducated are not bad...perhaps even scientific progress, the ratchet that keeps us one step ahead of crowding-induced pestilence and destitution, is misguided: Progress destroys as much knowledge as it creates. Even as we fill up the libraries of the world with new facts, the old ways of knowing become increasingly remote, fragmentary, incoherent. Just as all the movies on VHS are now lost to those of us with only DVD players, the myths and legends that made us more than animals cannot be seen in the blue flickering light of the TV screen.
I question everything, now. Astigmatism, near sightedness, orthodontic braces, "vestigial organs"...we are changing our biology and the end will not be cataclysmic but gradual decline; lowered fertility, increased birth defects, centralized stagnant control. Our schools are factories and our factories and offices and living-places are nothing but slave labor camps that strip us, divide us, leave us homeless.
It is easy to imagine the past as primitive and dirty: the myth of linear evolution (rather than cyclic). It is easy to imagine that we can "help" the oppressed and the poor in the third world. But I look around me and see that the worst are full of passionate 24-7 intensity , believing if not in Heaven than in some consumerist ultimate utopia where entitlement and legitimacy are measured in cars and real estate. Meanwhile the best lack all conviction, while away their hours "looking for answers" in books or in masochistic exercise, walk with slumped shoulders and twisted mouths, wanting to believe in something but to honest to give up that final allegiance to our sadistic broken society. Who are our heroes now?
Stressed? The constant fight or flight response to this horrible mess: to run away (to the hills?) or stand our ground even as the gastric juices of this horrible Leviathan swirl around us? If intelligence is the ability to adapt, isn't the only smart choice to pop antidepressants and social anxiety pills until we make ourselves fit, like Charlie Chaplin, into the gears and cogs of "productive society"? If the only things I can do that are of value to society (i.e. will earn me money) also dehumanize me, is the cost vs benefit worth it? Are commitment and loyalty and honesty good if they serve a sick end? Is it smart to volunteer to be the canary in the gold mine?