Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Telling Time by Technology II

Every time we use any technology, we are making a choice.

Using a computer, a cell-phone, a car, a television, or a dishwasher, all of these are choices with wide-reaching effects that reach into pollution, depletion of resources, and the exploitation of people and the earth. When we make choices without thought, we are at best being thoughtless. I’d say we are also being irresponsible, ceding our most important choices to corporations, and behaving in their narrow interest, which is of course to control us for their profit.

If you want to tell time by technology, you might imagine that technological time goes on and on, that the power coming through your wall will always be there, that world society and American civilization will continue as they are forever. But great civilizations fall and disappear with their technologies—only 300-400 years ago Mayan civilization just up and disappeared, and I guarantee you we will go the same way.

The conditions that pertain to our present moment, especially the high-technological ones, will vanish, leaving us with just our bodies and our effort with which to make a life. We would do well to remember that, and to consider the benefits of living as closely as possible to those limits.

William Blake wrote “if I only fly with my own wings I will never fly too high.” And yet we continually insist on flying higher than we are meant to, using the vast jury-rigged contraption of our power grid and our electronics and our combustion to extend ourselves into space and time. There is good reason to reflect on the story of Icarus.

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