Friday, September 18, 2009


There is, of course, a lovely lightness now, to have liberated myself from any particular machine. I do all my writing ethereally, up in the cloud as they say, and have no worries about lost sectors on some spinning disk, or before that, lost, shuffled or wind-strewn pieces of paper.

The machines are all interchangeable, and apart from the time it takes to boot them up, and sometimes a vicious cycle thrashing from an older computing unit which can't outrace saves to the slowly spinning disk, they're all one to me. So long as the keyboards work, then I truly am indifferent now to operating system or if the machine sits on my lap or under my desk, or even if it's borrowed from someone else.

Even the loading up of a new machine, or newer, meaning if I am granted one from someone else's garbage, is trivially quick and dirty. And all this freedom is granted free, I suppose by the grace of some other gang of fools which will actually pay attention to the advertising which supports this evil monopoly empire.

I pay rather a lot for access on a monthly basis, though the reason I pay more is also so that I might be liberated from plugs or securitized wireless, or coffee shops or more borrowing. I prefer the Macs and Linux machines, because they accept my cellular device without any need to search for the metering software which Windows must deploy, presumably for the same reason - market share - that they are targeted by so much malware.

So, I take my Internet with me too, in the form of a tiny piece of hardware, whose usage costs me more than I can afford, but such is the cost of freedom. Truth be told, I think Internet should be ubiquitous and free, and perhaps it will be, all on the backs of those other foolish people who pay attention to ads. Commercial interest should almost demand it, especially when you consider the unsupportable costs to ship catalogs and mass-mailed come-ons, still, into so many peoples' literal mailboxes.

And I want to know why, given all this freedom, there are still people who want anything. Why would anyone, after the instant of making love to some vision of beauty which comes in to one's life, would one ever want or need or ask or complain about or for anything more, ever, again?

But you know it's not about the machine or the access or the writing. It's also about the place in which you do it, and now here in the lovely fall Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, I am sitting opposite a cheery fire, lit against the rapidly encroaching autumn so that I can remain comfortable, although it isn't cold. The fall which will bring bold colors and tourists to this place I am about to leave.

There are small enough margins for choice in our lives now, once the marketplace has perfected the distance between what we might be worth and what we need to buy, filling the gap with seemingly insatiable desires, each one of which, like my internet access, is calibrated to match the scale of desire in each one of us. Just against our possible illness, we must keep a full-time job, and then the cost of the other baubles is trivial enough to keep it below the decision threshold.

But I do wonder when someone other than myself will notice that in this way, all distinction between software and hardware has gone away. It's just a connection, rather, between what is stored in a kind of frozen-hard state, and what is gotten at in more liquid fashion. These words I can manipulate until I want to fix them. And I really don't care anymore at all about the machinery which makes that possible, until it stops functioning.

But software - a set of instructions - which depends on hardware to be set in motion is itself that hard because it never changes. And the hardware is a perfect analog for imprinted media, with fixed code as represented by the circuits and transistors initially mapped in such fashion that the schematic and the final product resemble one another almost interchangeably. So all that really matters is the change of state, happening now on this machine maybe a million times per second, but happening overall for the meaning of my transcriptions, who could possibly know or even care, since it's all so distributed about the cloud.

So we do still think of transmissions and storage and instructions stepping through and by. But that makes no more sense than to think of Walmart actually selling me a bicycle. They sell a form of crystallized misery is all. Its form, the bicycle's, exists somewhere now in software, as a set of specs. Machines realize these specs, almost apart from human intervention, and in the end there is always slave labor in China to do what hands are still required for.

So first of all, the hardware bicycle can be gotten so cheaply for almost the same reason a computer chip can. Once the design is set, it's like printing books almost. The marginal cost of each additional copy becomes almost nil. Actually, what our market economy now means is that it must be pushed as close to nil as possible, with all margins left for the creator alone. The designer. The one in the room with a view.

The funny thing is that the actual designer doesn't get a whole lot. He's just some middle class slob eager to sell his soul for the company boxer shorts. The one really on the take is the one gaming the logo, managed in trust for the hoards who own its equity. And these equity corporations act just like sociopathic machines, destroying anything small and beautiful on their way to world domination.

What a terrible thing has been accomplished to give these machines the rights of man. They resolve our collective aspirations, just like the gleam in the eye of my daughter, say, when she got her new Walmart bicycle which was all I could afford. We just want our money to grow, just like the value in our houses, so that we can turn it into interchangeable space to be bought and sold.

The resolution of our collective will, betokened only by money which is as interchangeable, precisely, as an identity-less subatomic particle, assures that whoever is custodian of that capital must labor to maximize its value, quite regardless of what gets harmed along the way.

This is the truest law of the jungle. This is the opposite of civilization.

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