The last clear function of man … muscles aching to work, minds aching to create beyond the single need – this is man. To build a wall, to build a house, a dam and in the wall and house and dam to put something of Manself, and to Manself take something back from the wall, the house, the dam; to take hard muscles from the lifting, to take clear lines and form from conceiving. For man, unlike any other thing organic or inorganic in the universe, grows beyond his work, walks up the stairs of his concepts, emerges ahead of his accomplishments.
John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath
So we’ve walked ourselves into what appears to be a dead end. Turns out, trashing the joint doesn’t fix anything. It just makes a mess you have to clean up. If getting back to basics is a remedy worth considering, it might be useful to ask what that means in this day and age.
And nobody makes anything anymore. You hear that at the gas station and the barber shop. We don’t MAKE anything – except money. Oceans of cash skimmed off virtual blips on a screen. A life’s fortune – there one second, gone the next. With nothing left as trace evidence except ever larger sums in ever fewer bank accounts. And software designed to funnel internet traffic through a series of checkpoints where invisible goons rifle through your wallet, your cash, your recent travels and your identification. That digital fingerprint bundle gets commoditized, packaged like a credit default swap and sold then re-sold and sold again on the open market.
This is what passes for commerce anymore and nobody has yet been able to explain it to me in a way that fits what I was taught about a properly functioning economy. Brick and mortar commercial space seems less and less relevant. Soon, we’ll be to the point where no parent can point to their child and say, “We helped build that.” What’s the opportunity cost of putting commerce on a chip?
I miss playing my lp’s but the convenience of shuffling through my digital music library can be inspiring in a different way than flipping through my collections and manually putting the music into motion.
Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Nine Inch Nails, The Hand That Feeds