Monday, February 19, 2024


The Pied Piper of our Modern Dystopia

In hindsight, 13 years after his passing, that honorific would have to go to Steve Jobs.  A friend gave me Walter Isaacson's biography of the man some years ago.  I did not crack it, fearing that I would find him to be repellent and perhaps not very interesting at the same time.  No doubt that was unfair to him.

His ambition for a particular form of power seems to have been greater than his ambition even for money and celebrity.  That would be the power to pull on the puppet strings of humanity at a very large scale, and thereby to influence the zeitgeist as few had done before him (Edison, Henry Ford?).

I don't claim to be immune.  Yesterday I got bored in the late afternoon, as I often do. I resorted to scrolling my endless Facebook feed.  A clip lasting no more than 25 seconds.  In remarkable scale and clarity, a dung beetle rolls a perfectly round ball of dung that is about 100 times larger than itself along a flat plane.  Without malice aforethought (it can't see what lies in the ball's path), it rolls the ball over a very cute tiny frog.  When the frog reappears, it is squished, but not quite dead.

Is this supposed to be funny, like a cat chasing a laser dot on a wall?  Or is it supposed to be a metaphor for our own lives?  One day we are the dung beetle, and thereafter we resent the fact that we must make excuses for our own cruelty.  On another day we are the frog, annihilated in the most undignified way imaginable.  (There is no David Attenborough intoning that our demise contributed to the Great Circle of Life.)

We are all being drawn into a vortex.

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