Emotional Difficulty   (2018Nov30)


 

 

Friday, November 30, 2018                                              12:59 AM

Emotional Difficulty   (2018Nov30)

Do you use civilization, or do you participate in it? Civilization, like life itself, is not something we asked for, but something we have thrust upon us with the implied understanding that its pros outnumber its cons. And, as with life, that depends on who you talk to, after the fact—not that the dead are ‘questionnaired’, regularly, but if you could, I mean.

I’ve been thinking about how each year’s (or make it month’s) round of new science research, new real-world lab and tech developments, new enhanced coding in the cyberscape—all exciting, many awe-inspiring—are also, most of the time, a scythe wiping away employment, skill-sets, and their attendant sub-cultures.

When science makes convenient alternatives to human workers, it also erases their way of life. If you read an O. Henry story or Damon Runyon story today, you’d need a glossary for all the occupations and pastimes that have been swept away with the cyber era. And good riddance to some of those cultural norms and social iniquities—although I’d venture, at this point, that they are not gone, but hidden in new ways.

No, the evil abides—but the jobs and the salaries and benefits and, most importantly, the easy pace of life back then—those things are all gone. When I first began office work, in the early 70s, I began with a normal, manual typewriter, until later, when I used an IBM Selectric II. All the bookkeeping was done by hand in green-paper ledger books, using an adding machine.

Now, when we went to calculators, and soon after, PCs, we only stopped using the one adding machine. When the new mini-computer system came in, we only stopped using two Selectric typewriters. When faxes came out we only stopped seeing that one messenger-guy that stopped in once or twice a day on his round of clients. And when our computer-based work-style stopped us using traditional stationary supplies and equipment, the big, lovely-smelling, tradition-heavy stationary store in Mid-Town only lost one business account.

If you’ve ever seen “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” in its film incarnation, you might remember the scenes in that movie—surreally infinite ranks of typists and accountants, using the same typewriters and adding machines. But those scenes are puny compared to the actual hidden army of such people who made up a sizeable percentage of the people needed to run a big firm (up until that time).

The street-messenger army virtually disappeared in the same fiscal year that fax-machine sales exploded. Today’s messenger delivers only physical objects and legal documents—and nowadays, he or she hasn’t the leisure of strolling around Manhattan on foot.

You can’t imagine the unlimited amount of petty jobs that had been presented to a new Twentieth Century—the bigger businesses got, the bigger the crowd required to do all the millions of details. And amongst that milling mob, there was also exchange of ideas and emotions. We often call early Twentieth Century America a ‘melting pot’ (as if all the disparate ethnicities actually combined) when, really, it was a ‘mixing bowl’. The crowds of people going to and from factories and mines—the same people seeking out gathering spots for recreation—that’s where the cohesion came from, IMHO. That’s what made Central Park so fascinating and popular.

For awhile, the more machines appeared, the more jobs were created—factory jobs, repair jobs, retail jobs, office jobs, packing and shipping jobs—a rising tide, in commerce, used to lift all boats. Nowadays, in case you missed it, the job market has no connection to the economy—half of us could drop dead and the rich wouldn’t even notice. There is a dangerous disconnect.

Simultaneously, virtually every aspect of our parents’ way of life has disappeared. I don’t mean that in a political way. I mean that in the sociological, archeological sense. The milk-man, public school, trusted bank, security blanket America is gone—and without judging the ups and downs of that, I would merely observe that it is emotionally difficult to watch the world disappear, right or wrong, good or bad.

Clarity of Vision (2018Nov13)


IronMan

Excelsior !

 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018                                           7:23 PM

Clarity of Vision   (2018Nov13)

One of our best States burnt up this past week-end. Climate Change is the kind of thing that takes a cooperative effort to respond to—and humanity has become too comfortable in a global culture of Capitalist competition. Our society’s every axiom tells us not to cooperate—and so we are doomed.

Or so I have heard people say. I think people have an urge to cooperate so strong that it can shoulder past the establishment’s limits. But it is much more difficult to recruit soldiers to a love-in of international cooperation than to say, a desert shoot-em-up that promises to bring all your gamer fantasies to life.

It’s always harder to build something than it is to tear something down. We have a fantastic planet. If we recognize that our present careless rapaciousness must inevitably destroy the entire eco-sphere—then we have a new mission on Earth.

We no longer need defend against alien invaders. We no longer need to vie for wealth, possessions, or power. We can be satisfied with the simple goal of leaving a viable planet for our grandchildren to start families in. Sounds easy, right? But we’ve been fucking off for way too long, as people do.

And we’re still stuck here—at the point of acceptance. Yes, you simple poopy-heads—we’re all gonna die from greenhouse gasses and ocean acidification and habitat destruction. Did you think the world was too big for us to make an impact? Well, it was—but that was two centuries ago.

Our leaders, our most powerful and prominent businesspeople, even our most pious ministers—are all in agreement: Don’t pay any attention to California burning—or Texas or Florida flooding—or thousands of Puerto Rican hurricane victims lost—blame it on God and keep laughing off the scientists—all the scientists.

The rest of the world sees it better—you have a few countries (sadly including the USA right now) too dis-informed to join Europe and the rest, all of whom are eager to get to work on climate-change solutions. Just another thing in which America has lost its preeminence—our clarity of vision.

Can we talk about the President? We’ve had presidents I didn’t like, presidents I got furious at—but never a president who made me ashamed. Trump makes me ashamed for him, for the government, for the country, and for myself (for being naïve enough to think this couldn’t happen). I’m ashamed of the entire Senate, because they have the power and the responsibility to react to Trump’s unfitness—and do nothing, and even say nothing. The whole farce is shameful. The Republicans have ceased to be a political party—they have lost all legitimacy. ‘Nuf said.

Excelsior !