FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Screenlandia and the Mass Man

Every human in my immediate view is hunched over a screen.  It is something out of a horror movie.

You who have wandered in the backcountry and for even a few days have been free of the digital tyranny will know that feeling, when you come back to your fellow man and are confronted with what look like machined abortions of men – and when you too become one of them, chained in the unreality of the zeitgeist.

You who’ve been among trees and grasses and flowers, who have ears for the ululating soil in the green light that filters the sun and fixes its energy, and have felt your animal self, naked, alive to the five senses, who have seen colors that seem hallucinated, impossible to reproduce by the technical hand; you ecologists, botanists, biologists who have heard the calls, watched the ways, witnessed in surprise and wonder the distinctions, the differences, the oddness of the countless species, and floated on the surf in your mind’s eye, looked in upon the waters, and seen teeming there in the bosom of the real, in the tumult of the water, the raw complexity of the will to life, the agency of the world that birthed us – the only world-reality worth caring about.

You know you’re back on the small planet of men when the screens take over, when the screens warp us in their falsifying, simplifying image.  In the airport, we grip our screen telecommunication devices.  The STDs give comfort, functioning as pacifiers for an infantilized race.   The STDs demand we all hold them in the same manner, head down, prostrate before the god Goog, swiping, transfixed, looking exactly alike and seemingly innumerable in our sameness, in the airport’s halls, lounges, restaurants, bars, gates, up and down the gangways, in the bathrooms, at the cab stands, and on the roads out to the cities that we’ve built to the measure of our sameness (glass, steel, concrete – repeat across continents).

And on the walls, everywhere you look, even in the back of a cab, more screens, of the corporate ilk.  The humans on CNN, MSNBC et al, also have the character of simulacra, mass-produced in an underground factory, and you begin to doubt they exist outside the wind-up-toy mediated environment.  The robots-cum-people gesticulate, mouth, emote – the sound is off, who knows what they’re saying, and who cares, for if it’s on a corporate screen it’s probably not worth hearing.  By turns they are smiling, coy, worried, uplifted, delighted, sorrowful, sweet: a bravura attempt at biological animal humanness.

Recall the scene in Huxley’s Brave New World when the “savage” John, the outsider brought to witness the marvels of civilization, gets a taste of what it means to engineer “beauteous mankind” as his mother lies dying in a hospital ward:

A sudden noise of shrill voices made him open his eyes and, after hastily brushing away the tears, look round. What seemed an interminable stream of identical eight-year-old male twins was pouring into the room. Twin after twin, twin after twin, they came – a nightmare.

Their faces, their repeated face – for there was only one between the lot of them – puggishly stared, all nostrils and pale goggling eyes. Their uniform was khaki. All their mouths hung open. Squealing and chattering they entered. In a moment, it seemed, the ward was maggoty with them. They swarmed between the beds, clambered over, crawled under, peeped into the television boxes, made faces at the patients…

[He] looked round him, knew what he saw – knew it, with a sinking sense of horror and disgust…the nightmare of swarming indistinguishable sameness.

You get a flight back to New York, city of the unreal, like all cities an ecological parasite sucking the blood out of the hinterlands, laying waste to ecosystem complexity, and with the sole goal of producing a monochromatic thing of dubious worth we call, with puerile pride, “culture.”  There you meet with the “progressive community,” who for the most part have their STDs stapled to eyeball and anus and parts in between, who think catching a ride with Uber is a sign of progress.  This will end someday, this benighted preening civilization, and it won’t be soon enough.

More articles by:

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer.  You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail