Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Being slow on the general uptake, I finally and concretely realized something today: it’s 2010, when the Jetsons said we’d have personal robots and space cars, but we are still primitive. We still try to poke one another with sharp things. We still throw rocks at one another. In 2010 we worship the lights in the sky.
On the way to work today a police car almost ran me off the road. Right by my building. Lights suddenly flashing, no siren, with the cop skidding to an angle and hopping out with the quickness. With my heart jumping, my almost-first thought was not his devotion to high ideals, not the indispensable service he was performing--what hit me was the gun he had his hand angled near. What hit me was that after millions of years on this planet, we find ourselves constantly having to throw rocks at someone. That cop, bless his necessary ass, was part of an organization of rock throwers, not that police throw willy-nilly but that they have to do it at all (if they didn't I’d be writing and you’d be reading from the cramped confines of our personal bunkers; you, favored third reader, may be evolved, but your neighbor Clete is not).
The Planet of the Apes was a redundant movie.
My second thought was: another bank robbery. It happened a few days ago in my building. Small branch of a major bank. It gets robbed fairly often, I imagine as part of a customer recruitment campaign (“Banking so easy it’s criminal!—Hotcha!”). Then I thought: mugging, which doesn’t adhere as much to a schedule like the bank; some punkass had robbed somebody using a gun or a knife—and to threaten somebody with a knife means you’re willing to poke them with pointy things till they bleed, which is not as easy as fiction makes it seem. Skin is not tissue paper, it is resilient. Poking is a particularly primitive notion, not far removed from beating someone with the flailing backs of your hands. Even the word mugging sounds like something presupposed by an excess of knuckle hair.
Since my absolute first thought, as the car forced me to access my inner Nascar and I whipped the Wife’s car (my car died some time ago; I drive the Wife’s car) to the side of the road, was God damn! I realize how important the lights in the sky remain to this little blue marble. Religion walks about all the time, doesn’t it? Last night there was a bright full moon and the stars were like ice. We still worship the lights in the sky, one way or another, calling the constellations Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Jewish, Amish, Mormons. Naming the constellations Faith. Proclaiming the constellations Belief. In our heart of hearts we call the constellations God. As if we’ve always known God by name. Over the weekend I saw an early morning bible show. A young guy with gleaming teeth and perfect hair spoke to a group of eager thousands, huge monitors showing his every staged smile, every devotion, every gleam in his eye. Scared the minty beejeezus out of me seeing all those people in one place intractably tuned into one charismatic thought. (By the by, charisma is the new elite; see Sarah, plain and tall.) With all the shaking the earth has been doing of late I expect the number of his followers to grow grow grow.
A little less primitively—but definitely the precursor to our impending robot overlords-- scientists are within sight distance of quantum computers. That sounds extremely cool to me…until it hits that androids will be physical extensions of cell phone companies. Why walk the dog when your app can do it faster? Cool advancements become marketable annoyances. Just ask the woman I almost thunked in the throat for getting on an elevator with me and neglecting to discontinue her loud phone conversation. I figure, look for God, look to science. Not that science is just, like, all that. But damn. Break it down to the simple: the fact that the encyclopedia Britannica can now fit inside a tiny plastic rectangle no bigger than half my pinkie is bloomin’ bloody amazing. Consider science a friend. The Question (and that’s the best way to consider God) didn’t make us smart for no reason, if you wanna get all Intelligent Designy. I could spend days studying fractal geometry’s patterns and shifts. Wouldn’t understand a bit of it but somewhere inside my gray matter a couple neurons would smile, cuddle closer, and get to know one another, if you know what I'm sayin'.
Juxtapose the drift with me, mein freunds. God’s a smart kid wishing there weren’t so many dumb kids to play with. We’re cheating beauty when we throw rocks and poke. Devo was a great group for the eighties. As a general trend, though, one step forward then getting knocked four steps back is not my cup of tea.
This blog brought to you by the letter Q.