August 6, 2000
He preferred to believe in the existence of mysterious forces around him, even moving through him. It wasn’t a very ‘High’ intellectual thing to want to think perhaps, more of a low culture thing....but there it was. In reality however he thought everything flat and uninteresting much of the time. And yes, he knew the critique that therein lay a heavy fascist moment, gravid with the dark or opaque moments which often passed for the mystical in this culture. He was often doubtful whether any such thing as the ‘mystical’ even existed anymore, indeed whether it COULD exist anymore, given the blinding glare of the tv screen and the net, their continual needs for ‘exposure,’ and the continual quest for speed in all areas of culture and life now. Didn’t the ‘mystical’ require a drastic speed reduction (if not stoppage)? Didn’t the mystical require hiding places, and hiding places not only in the external environment but also in the human soul? Didn’t the mystical need the protection of ‘secrets’? And how can we (that is this clulture) have such a thing anymore? People become inflamed at the mention of secrets, some rushing to shed as much light as possible, dispell any possibity of the ‘secret’ containing anything of any efficacious portent: no prophesies, no directions to hidden lands, hidden psyches, nothing worth your time there pal, no need to even look there fellow. And then some rush to embrace wholeheartedly without any sort of analytical glance at all, willing to extrapolate the consequences of the ‘secret’ onto every available surface, whether appropriate or not. It’s a toss-up as to which is more injurious of the mystical.

He was unclear where he stood on the whole matter. (oh that’s a very bad thing also: one must always know where one stands on any issue of the day, be ready to formulate an intelligent and perceptive response to everything that would come his way. In other words, one must be willing to be pegged into the apropriate demographic hole, according to which various pie charts and statistical tables will be constructed and talk radio pundits will be able to configure amunition to attempt to devastate their opponents or just simply infuriate anyone who happens to be listening. Most of which has very little to do with your opinion per se.)

At any rate, the idea of the ‘mystical’ had to do with, he was sure, some idea of inaccessibility. And there was no idea more dangerous now than such a thing. It seemed to strike at the very core of the roiling ant hill which civilisation had become. To become ‘inaccessible’ is now an affront of monumental import in some circles, whether the difficulty of some books (‘obscurantist’ I believe they are called) or maybe of some high art artifacts. “Accessibility” is now repeated as a mantra of desire, almost a religious term cast in terms of communication, a new papal bull. Like some timorous old lady in the produce section of the grocery store overhearing someone speaking in a foreign language and being sure that they are saying something about her, the inacessible and the obscure seem to have a reflective component which throws us back on ourselves, becoming a gauge of our own fugitive impotencies, magnifying them even into a monumental paranoia. If there is a secret, the secret must be about ME. If there is a secret, it can only mean that something is being kept from me which is rightfully mine.

The curious thing though is that televison and the movies had become a continual barrage of occult examinations and dramatizations, driven to ever greater speculative heights because of the new possiblities given by special effects now (to be sure this ‘speculation’ was of an intensely visual sort and in many ways was simply a fulfullment of ancient occult and religious texts---from the point of view of the new environment there was no difference between the two.)8.15.00My email is down and has been for 5 days now. i always take it’s connectivity for granted until it’s not there anymore. This is beginning to feel like a kind of ending. No prelude, no fanfare, somebody just pulls the plug and that’s it. And there isn’t really any recourse. I can see that in the future there will be a quality of (threatened) excommunication to life. If you misbehave, you get tossed off-line, with no access to services and goods. You would be free to do whatever you wanted but from a certain p.o.v. you would be more like a p.o.w.

Even now it feels like everything marginal is getting squeezed more and more off the page. And of course you can’t even hear the voices of those who have been squeezed completely off. And since all the rewards (and rationales) for living in that society will also be online life (for a while) will seem pointless and it will be almost impossible to re-enter wired society. And while a few souls may elect to leave a condition of ‘wiredness’ most of us will be haplessly enmeshed in the forced march of technology.

I was coming back from town, the usual undulating conga line of steel and rubber. I pulled up behind a Plymouth Voyager and there, splayed out on the back windshield with one of it’s front claws stuck in the windshield wiper blade was a bright green praying mantis. As the SUV came to a stop at the light it gradually unfolded itself and pulled futilely at its front limb. In that uncanny way that it does, it gathered itself and slowly moved its triangular head around, seemingly fixing on me for a second.

of course I assume not much was going through its tiny green head but the simple gesture of swirling it around was enough to make me think of it being trapped then to spring to me being trapped in the car behind it, stuck just as desperately to the technology as any forlorn bug glued to a windshield.

I lost track of the car for a bit and when i saw it again the mantis was gone. Probably missing one leg. I’m afraid that will be the legacy of tech, in one way or another, for all of us.

We may not know where we’re going or have any control over the increasing speed of our vehicle.....but of course it’s for our own good.

(Such as this from The Man Without Qualitites that I just came across: “For one assumed that if there was indeed no voluntary going back in history, then mankind was like a man driven along by some inexplicable wanderlust, a man who could neither go back nor arrive anywhwere, and this was quite a remarkable condition.”

Nevertheless...I am feeling quite useless, some vermiform entity half caught in noonday glue, unable to move --except thru the good graces of a fast vehicle--and equally unable to stay still. Certainly any sort of productive activity seems out of the question. There seems to be no return on anything I do, naturally lends one to a paralytic state perhaps.
I think I have to accept a state where none of that is germane...doesn’t seem very livable in some will the money thing happen? I can see how people become ‘criminals’ -- the only time most people get any ‘official’ attention is when the police knock on their door.

robert cheatham