I don’t think I’m an unusually materialistic person, but the thought of all my spoons and knives and telephones left alone in the world to defend themselves every time I leave the house always gives me a fidgety feeling. I don’t know if this is just a weak, attenuated form of the emotion I get at the thought of, say, my parents, both in their early 60’s, whenever they get in a car, hurtling across the face of the earth, faster than cheetah or falcon, with only their own reflexes to save them. This isn’t only a fear about driving, although I do think driving represents (or is maybe just one of the most prominent examples of) a kind of unresolved relationship between a soft thing and a hard thing, neither of which have revealed their full natures. The hard thing, metal and the like, has been in a way rolled up into a ball by the processes of industrial technology, so that most of the time you only see its smooth and shiny side. The jaggedy bits only emerge in a crisis. But it’s not inconceivable that all of that tamed steel will some day unfurl itself in full and take back its own from the dominance of our soft, squishy organicnesses that have seeped across the globe and claimed possession of it. That’s probably the source of the persistent fears of robots and intelligent computers, because it seems to be somehow felt that, in keeping with their make-up, everything about them, from their ethics to their language, would be harder and more square-cornered than ours. Or at least I take it that there is some such collective fear, due to its continuing exploitation in ridiculous movies. This is one definitely useful function that Hollywood performs: through its relentless prying and pushing it has given some sort of sense of the full spatial dimensions and volume of all the twisting, shadowy caverns of hysteria in the psyche, which otherwise might just seem like some sort of blurred, wavering peripheral area.

Leave a Reply

If your comment doesn't appear right away, it was probably eaten by our spam-killing bot. If your comment was not, in fact, spam (and if you're actually reading this, it probably wasn't), please send me an email and I'll try to extricate your comment from our electronic spam purgatory.