The telephone was invented by a man,
and from the candle stick of the 1920's
to modern times so many of the appliances
into which we have to speak into
have been firm and somewhat phallic.
The lead in their pencils makes men
always want take the lead in life,
unaware of how this makes them controlling,
and this include the design of technologies
to assist future communications.
Were women to take a greater hand
in our collective designs for future living
I wonder how much more feminine,
sensual and inclusive the shapes
of their designs for sharing speech
at a distance in future might be.
Would talking into differently designed phones
more naturally suggest everyday cunnilingus?
Comparing being alone with being lonely
sails so close to cliche
that I don't want to go there.
The times when I felt most thorougly
ill-at-ease were in the company of family,
or with teachers or other instructors
barking orders, who said they cared
but acted as if they were on another planet
whilst engaged in their constant activity.
Since 1979 more walls have gone up
than have ever gone down, erections
made out of money as much as bricks.
The Construction Industry is in robust health,
with all the new divisions that it is expanding!
The new walls are better than the old,
they are less physical, and have less barbed wire,
with very few machine guns required for hire.
The 'no-man's-land' in between the divides
is now maintained by black ops manouveres
backed up by hidden security cameras
coupled with plenty of noisy propaganda.
From behind our wall we accept what we are shown,
democracy where the highest level performers
get the most bread, the rest just watch them perform.
Our screens define our histories as battles
between causes that haunt us like old ghosts.
Who did what and when they did it can no longer
be remembered well, but comes to us in fragments.
Our turmoil is both within and without,
there is barely the need for the knife in the back
to openly prove what the conflict is all about.
In the dying light our media shout for the shadows
of those in whom we once put hope,
looking for how to 'rediscover our traditions'.
When the walls seem high enough we stop listening,
and sit and mutter to ourselves instead.
No enemy can penetrate a mind so well divided
so in our madness we feel safe from all invaders.
Jesus never said 'By their management systems shall ye [all] know them'*,
but there is something prophetic about poor management skills.
They are the most reliable guide to human error
that we could ever devise for ourselves,
to the exclusion of all other competence and tact.
Often they will do this and understate the fact,
until the system speaks loud enough to deafen us.
*an adaptation from the gospel of Mathew Ch 7 V 20.
One of the many oddities of modern life
is to see so many images from the 1960's
onward, from modern popular music,
being re produced on 'limited run' T shirts.
Seeing the faces of now wrinkly old rockers
in their youthful form, adorning to the torsos
of modern youth is somewhat disconcerting.
I get it, but I lived that past and seeing it reheated
in the light modern clothing leaves me rather cold.
Perhaps we could look back further,
to another range of images,
one where the faces of classical composers
adorn the front and notation from their sheet music
is written on the back, sponsored by Classic FM.?
Never mind The Grateful Dead, Roy Harper
Led Zep and Pink Floyd and the T-shirt artists
that sell by the bucket load, let us re-imagine
what we really want to see. Beethoven!
Bach! Bruckner! Bartok! and Brahms!
And that is just the most famous B's!
there are another 25 alphabet letters
of both major and minor composers,
and complete obscurantists, to choose from.
Let their music be heard more too,
and played live and in the open air,
to replace much that seems forced
by the rhetorical sense of fame
which is led by E.D.M. at present.
When Zeus finally gave Sisyphus his eternal punishment,
for his cunning and hubris, and the gods opened
the first quarry to help humans recognize themselves,
how much was Sisyphus permitted a sense of Deja-Vu
with each rock rolled up the hill that fell down again?
The following was quoted in the front of a book of reviews of television, 'Glued to the Box' by Clive James, which was published before the age of the internet. The quote itself was written well before the telephone had taken off, and long before the classic age of three channels of analogue television in Britain, which is the period that Clive James collected television reviews cover. But it expresses clearly how little we travel for all that we change the means of transmitting information.
'Humanity will surpass the first dirigibles as it has surpassed the first locomotives. It will surpass M. Santos-Dumont as it has surpassed Stephenson. After telephotography it will continually invent graphies and scopes and phones all of which will be able to go round the earth in less than no time. But it will always be only the temporal earth. And it will be possible to burrow inside the earth and pierce it through as I do this ball of clay. But it will always only be the carnal earth.'
At the tills of my local supermarket
I returned to talk with my favourite cashier.
He is always a tonic after trawling the isles
for my few items, that takes ages to find.
He had a florescent green strap on his wrist,
on it there were lights that were flashing.
I asked him about this, and he replied
'It monitors my health, whilst telling me the time.
It was sold to me by my health insurance.
They lower the premium which I pay them
when I wear it.... '.
'Oh' said I 'I thought that it was the watch
that would tell you when you were going to die,
as sold by technologically advanced undertakers.'.
We laughed at our mutual incomprehension,
and joked about 'best before' dates for humans,
as if we were similar the stock of the shop.
The conversation ended with me speculating
which of my relatives we might send
this undertakers watch to, for Christmas.
He knew nothing of how deeply
the false cheer of Christmas sales
depresses me, beyond belief.
We both knew that he would soon
be stacking shelves with Christmas stock
but his all-year-round cheer was better.