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outsourcing the rational

ALL HOPE IS GONE

Why do you believe?

The culture demands you jettison belief in God, in religion, in your gender, your genetics, your nation’s boundaries. Believe instead — the cultural gatekeepers and media bullhorns proclaim — in diversity, in fluidity, in globalization, in technology, in those jobs not coming back, in all of the things, however true, not true or somehow in-between, which encourage you to consume more, buy more, dispose more, and link your identity more strongly to your possessions, even as you replace them daily, weekly, yearly.

What does belief gain you?

A man using standard computing equipment was able to (digitally) swap the face of a porn actress with superstar Gal Gadot, the actress who so capably plays Wonder Woman.

It’s difficult for human eyes to see the truth, more so than ever before.

Probably, the viewers of porn want exactly that.

There was a terror attack in New York City today. Thankfully, a mostly botched attack.

A young man from Bangladesh.

He came to America.

He lived here for seven years.

He was in nearly all ways discernible to our eyes — and ears and other senses — utterly non-descript.

After a recent visit back to Bangladesh, he changed.

Today, he attempted to set off a bomb on the New York City subway.

Mostly, he harmed himself.

What if — bear with me here — the young man felt compelled to make and set off a bomb, kill scores of innocent people, but he simultaneously didn’t want to?

What if — bear with me here — whatever was compelling him to commit his dastardly act was not at all what he wanted to do?

I entertain the idea that the Bible is a makers guide. There are two elements to this notion:

  1. the Bible’s tales of morality, goodness, and faith instruct humanity — and guide us as we create evermore capable machines
  2. what if — yes, I know this is utterly fantastical — the Bible is also a *literal* makers guide, directing our technological development?

Mad, I know.

Bear with me.

I think today of Joseph. God spoke to Joseph, according to the Bible, through Joseph’s dreams. The dreams told Joseph what to do about Mary, about Christ, when to leave Bethlehem, when to go to Egypt, when to leave again.

Can we — us mortals — develop technology that enables us to send messages into another’s dreams?

Can we make voice a weapon?

Certainly, it’s already used as a substitute for magic.

You speak, your voice travels twenty feet where it reaches your Amazon Echo, which awakens, connects to the Internet, interacts with multiple computers and data sources, then returns with your request, speaking back to you.

Let’s do this, but into a person’s dreams!

A tree falls in the forest, no one is around to hear it, but once all the world’s things are wired, connected, we can hear whatever we want, from wherever and whenever we choose.

What then?

Hearing, seeing, as fluid as your twitter feed?

Question everything becomes no longer a pose, rather, the world we have constructed.

Sometimes, that’s cool.

One of the things I love so much about Beck is that I feel that even his failures — and, honestly, I think most of his songs are near-failures — but even his failures reveal our possible paths, pointing the way to a future, a future that is sometimes acceptable, sometimes exactly not.

Beck’s rhythmic collages of noise, cultural detritus, a flotsam of aural impressions, these alter how we see the world.

The past de-constructed, the future uncertain.

“Rockin’ the city, close to god
Engines running, all hope is gone
Out on the highway, having a baby
Crawling the city, close to god
Engines running
Dixie fried
Got a feeling, that I’m leaving
Extra sugar, heavy breathing”

After you hear Close to God, consider next Sweet Satan.

JESUS IS COMING

In past centuries, humans were altered by the acceleration and spread of their most profound achievement, the outsourcing of their labors to machines. In our century, we are being transformed by the acceleration and spread of our most profound achievement, the outsourcing of our thinking to machines.

We are outsourcing the rational.

Crazy is our future. Expression our currency.

Storytelling will become valued just as in the beginning.

Hunter-gatherer storytellers were essential in promoting co-operative and egalitarian values before comparable mechanisms evolved in larger agricultural societies, such as moralising high-gods. Storytellers were also more popular than even the best foragers, had greater reproductive success, and were more likely to be co-operated with by other members of the camp.

In the history of popular music — which is long — few have been grander storytellers than The Eagles.

“They even brought a neon sign ‘Jesus is Coming’,
Brought the white man’s burden down, brought the white man’s reign
Who will provide the grand design, what is yours and what is mine?
Cause there is no more new frontier, we have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds
In the name of destiny and in the name of God.”

Words powerful enough to put out the fire, joined with music powerful enough to stir the wanderlust. You can’t hear the song and not want to leave — or else make it all go away.

Don Henley and Glenn Frey were musically gifted, both desperately wanted to be pop stars, and possessed of that rare ability to construct radio-friendly hooks, awakening riffs, tightly crafted harmonies, and memorable lines. Often, they transformed those memorable lines into stories which weaved inside the listener’s heart, forever activated by just a few notes on a keyboard or beats from a drum, or the call to prayer of a Glenn Frey chord.

The pair were well rewarded for their gifts.

As are we.

The Last Resort may be the very best song from the Eagles’ very best album, Hotel California, which is one of the very best albums of the modern rock era.

The Last Resort is a layered re-telling of ourselves being our most human.

Destructive.

We destroyed paradise.

This was our very first declaration of human power, a defiance of godly supremacy.

Foolish, foolish pride.

We’ve spent the past many millennia attempting to make good, resurrect paradise, piece it all ┬áback together, and return once again to the garden.

I am not certain we will ever succeed, but the effort certainly drives our best stories, just as its rejection drives our most fantastical failures.

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