This is obvious when it comes to computers. But we have always known this – and we should ask ourselves why we have forgotten it.
For example, in the kitchen just now I was looking at a large papaya. It obviously had a personality of its own, that I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t thinking about this. I would have just chopped it up and eaten it.
I have been vaguely aware of an annoyance with all the books I have about the way people relate to their things, thinking somehow that they were missing a huge point. They have been, and now the reason is obvious:
Everything has its own spirit – something we have always known, but decided it was unscientific.
This was a loss from both the aesthetic and religious viewpoints, because we lost our emotional relationship to everything else in the world – natural and man-made. A very big loss.
But, with our reduced sensibility, we proceed to produce ever more powerful things (using ever more powerful technologies) – giving no thought to their emotional impact on us. As result, their minds have taken over our minds. And we have become unable to see this, and happily proceed to destroy our world to make it safe for them.
There is even a theory that explains this – Actor-Network Theory (ANT). One of its main theorists, Bruno Latour, said:
he had been helpfully reminded that the ANT acronym “was perfectly fit for a blind, myopic, workaholic, trail-sniffing, and collective traveler” (the ant, Latour 2005:9) — qualitative hallmarks of actor-network epistemology.
The Mormons compared themselves to a bee hive, and made no bones about it. And having a Mormon background myself, I can understand the appeal and the appropriateness of the metaphor. It implies hard work – but no intelligence.
Exactly the situation we are in now.
As soon as I publish this, if find something on the Web about this very subject: Winamp’s woes: how the greatest MP3 player undid itself . This says, in effect, that management types (the suits) can mess up any neat technology. This implies that people (the worst kind of people) are in control – but only in a negative way.
Looking at this from the ANT perspective – our things are even more interested in destroying us, than they are in bettering themselves. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this puts us.