Friday, January 16, 2015

In the Course of Time

Perhaps it is that I have been reading too much lately about dystopianism, combing through the piss-poor scholarship on the subject.  Sadly, most of what I've found tells you what 'dystopia' means and when it occurs in literature - not what it's doing there, only when it occurs.  This crapfest, for instance, spends 90 minutes talking about about the obvious and making lists for an academic audience that clearly joined together for masturbatory purposes - but such is university life in the modern age.

This isn't, however, what I wanted to talk about.  I thought I might write a bit about the dread people feel, imagining that society will collapse in the next day or two, and idea supported by the slogging, mindless line of dystopian films stretching each season towards the horizon.  We're all dead, that's understood.  Because things are too fast and too complicated, no one has enough time to solve all these problems or even understand how to solve them.  Worse, all the people still in power are frustratingly unable or unwilling to change, operating Windows 95 if any system at all and barely understanding what a smart phone is.

Well, you know what the problems are.

I want to advance two brief optimistic thoughts for contemplation.  The first is that most of the problems existing right now are problems that will be solved actuarially.  That is, old people will die and take their old ideas with them.  The christian church is dying, television is dying, old form republicanism is dying, an inability to use computers is dying, blind patriotism is dying, etcetera, etcetera.  If you happen to live in a part of your country where this doesn't seem to be the case, let me remind you that the distance you have to drive or travel in order to closely encounter an alternative is growing shorter.  The areas of extreme oldness of thinking are progressively shrinking on maps because people are dying.  And this is a good thing.  As they die, they will drag their ignorance into the grave with them.

Consider that you will live to see many barriers to change simply evaporate in your lifetime.  All the things we have seen change these past 40 years - acceptance of homosexuality, the sexualization of culture,  the progression of feminism since the time of whack-job Anita Bryant, the demise of religious thematics in television and film - the BADNESS of these things has drifted out of vogue because most of the contentious combatants against them conveniently merged with the infinite. Expect to see more changes along these same lines.

Of course, if you are among those who right now experience panic attacks or wish fervently for a return to the way the world used to be, who insist on seeing all these changes as evidence that society will crash by Sunday, you should know that you are among those the rest of us are waiting to die.  And you will.  It's inevitable.

My second optimistic thought is in answer to the problem of understanding the complex world as it emerges.  Yes, admittedly, I can relate.  As an example, I cannot begin to understand Linux and have no interested in making the effort.  I am starting too late, I have other things that interest me, I don't have nearly as much time as I wish.  Where being a part of the crest of society-changing technology is concerned, I relate mainly to this Venn diagram:

A principal reason for why government is unable
to function in the modern age.

Yet we have cleverly built society so that a quarter of the population has both enormous amounts of time and coincidentally the resources to educate themselves in order to hack the existing system.  Here is the optimistic part.  I am speaking about children.

Granted, there are many bad parents who abusively insist that their children learn to play piano or become engaged in sports, who send them to time-regulated summer camps far from technology for two months out of the year . . . but thankfully there are just enough parents around who entirely ignore their children while providing them with all the resources they need to become self-educated in the use of computers.  And one day, some of these children will become lawyers, effectively solving the above problem.  So that when it comes time to solve the difficult problems of the world, these children grown into adults will have the disconnected, ruthless, pragmatic ability to pursue the improvement of society, against the will of those contemporary adults who wasted their childhoods with summer camps and sport.

Just as it has always happened.

There is this rather silly notion that solutions to problems are somehow found by gathering together as many like-minded people as possible in one place, then getting them to sing together and agree with one another, while making no actual changes to any actual functioning system.

I have this little fantasy where 18 very smart people figure out how to shut down arms manufacturing industrial factories in such a way that they catch fire and explode in a ball of fire . . . then write a program that causes every such location to eradicate itself from the face of the earth in the same three-hour period.  But I'm just spit-balling.  I have no idea how that would be done.  No doubt, however, when the late middle-aged people of the world take over these factories from the old farts who insisted they remain non-computerized, then computerize them, it should be possible.

So, just a couple of general thoughts.  No big deal.  The world will still be over and done with before the Super Bowl.  Nothing to worry about.

1 comment:

Michael Julius said...

A good read on matters of this kind is:

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/

Clear, coherent, and fundamentally optimistic. An honest to goodness real archdruid and an excellent writer, too.