Posts Tagged 'Technology'


On Silence by Aldous Huxley

The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire — we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence.

That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the eardrums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but usually create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ear, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego’s core of wish and desire.

Spoken or printed, broadcast over the ether or on wood-pulp, all advertising copy has but one purpose — to prevent the will from ever achieving silence. Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination. The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving. Advertising is the organized effort to extend and intensify the workings of that force, which (as all the saints and teachers of all the higher religions have always taught) is the principal cause of suffering and wrong-doing and the greatest obstacle between the human soul and its Divine Ground.

from Silence, Liberty, and Peace (1946)

Fax for the memory


Unless you work in PR – and let’s face it, you’re better than that – you probably don’t know that the last remaining use of the fax machine seems to be for magazines to send something called ‘colour separation’ request forms in knee-jerk response to receiving product press releases. The form is filled out (or not), faxed back and some poor sod at the magazine then has the job of editing the several hundred words of puff into 50 words or whatever to fit in next to a picture.

Even this residual function of the fax is probably doomed. Which makes me feel old because I believe I have witnessed the complete life cycle of the fax machine. I remember, when on placement in the mid 1980s as a student at a firm in Loughborough, a secretary (remember them?) encountered a fax for the first time, stood beside the machine feeding the same sheet of paper through it over and over again unaware that the machine didn’t actually send the paper itself. Oh, my stars, how we laughed. Well, thank goodness we’re all so much smarter nowadays and nobody will ever again be befuddled by a simple piece of new technology.

Balancing act

blackberrybustedI hate Blackberrys*. Even before the banks got us into the terrible mess we’re in, while firms banged on about work-life balance they were also kind of hoping we would all overlook the fact that the laptop and Blackberry they routinely gave us instantly eroded any distinction between the two we may once have enjoyed. Doubtless the work-life ideal will flap around like a dying fish on the banks of our stream of consciousness for a while yet but I hope it’s on its way out.

* Especially the way they force you to worry about how to form plurals. See also: mouses

August 2020

Desk Jockey