I love bug zappers because of the pretty light.
This was brought to mind by a Eugene Williams quote. He didn’t love bug zappers – he loved spiritual something-or-others, but, you get the point.
Actually, I don’t even know who Eugene Williams is, but someone on Twitter was in the middle of one of their endless, mind-numbing, quoting exercises and dragged the moldy corpse of Williams out into the light of day. Anyone who is a fellow twit, knows what I’m talking about, but those who haven’t taken that questionable, evolutionary leap, would need to subject yourself to three years of immersion in regurgitated quotes from the dead or mummified – or something in the terminal, non-moving, or museum exhibit status.
I think it’s a reflection of our society. I think we’ve travelled the fast-food highway of intellect and arrived at some vaguely recognizable neon-lit destination with an all-to-recognizable menu of voices droning on about this or that. I’ve been trying to reflect a little on the stuff of life in the past week. I’ve been communing with technology and discovered myself lacking.
I can’t help but remember a friend and fellow reporter, who admitted to me one day that she was a little afraid of computers and where they were taking us. She didn’t want to learn how to use the sparkling new Apple Quadras, which had been lovingly installed and networked at a daily still using a 50+ year-old offset press. This was long before cell phones and the internet and personal digital assistants, etc. It was long before “blue tooth,” or iPods or “i-anything.” I used an Apple Newton 2000, and it was frighteningly powerful technology. My friend’s name was Lisa, and she said something prophetic that day. She said, “someday soon there’s going to be two kinds of people – those who understand this crap and can adapt to it, and those who simply can’t. It may be the end of everything.”
I thought that was interesting and sad and maybe a bit truthful. It was also kind of scary, because Lisa was a former Titan Missile System Officer. Basically, her job was to wait around in a silo for the end of the world, then make certain she and her fellow officer turned their own set of keys, perhaps adding to the nuclear afterglow.
Earth as a cinder - makes you think doesn’t it?
Might make you think of some famous dead guy’s quote about the flicker we all represent in eternity’s pale blue light. Might even make you run another search on the internet and copy and paste some dried-up, retread drivel, making yourself appear for a brief moment to be worldly and educated. One more gasp – one more silent gaze at a glowing screen. One more press of a gently illuminated “Enter” key.
But myself, I think of the bug zapper. I think of the long flight toward the pretty light – oddly enough, itself blue and inviting. I think about the tiny creature’s short life and all the small, bug-world innovations, insect politics and plodding daily affairs it has taken part in. I wonder how far apart we really are as organisms.
From my vantage point, my personal flight, doesn’t seem that long, folks. I have seen the past years rush by in a stream of barely-recognized consciousness. I’ve seen people’s aging and endings – and the same waits for each of us, somewhere in the draining sands of tomorrow’s hour-glass or atomic clock; or whatever it is we’re using to count the passage of time these days. “Maudlin,” you say? “Depressing midnight, babble from some unseen hand, clacking away at some remote keyboard in some forgettable part of the world.” Why are you even reading this drivel?
I can’t answer that question. I know you’re staring at some glowing object in the process of reading this, and although you’re not growing wings, the crackle of electricity is there – so close – and you have been drawn in. But is it the real danger here? Or is it the technology and culture and course of society - our own failing, transitory natures, which represent the real danger?
Was Lisa right?
Here’s my take on it, after reflecting on that conversation, since 1997: She just might be. But Lisa’s imagined end-game only needs to come true, if we become the mindless drones only useful for dying in some kind of crackling, crisping end. Lisa’s truth is only given life, if we ourselves hand over our imaginations and sense of wonder to the stale, spoon-fed, tasteless pap of re-written, politically correct, progressively-driven, history. Contribute nothing – create nothing and offer nothing of yourself, and we all will indeed, visit some kind of Greek Tragedy on ourselves.
Because there are really two kinds of light – the one, which leads to something new, undiscovered, bold and transformative, and the one which leads to a small pop and a long fall.