Being Part of a Machine
This was a new experience for the human race – one of the effects of the Modern World, which began in the 15th Century. A hugely important event that we have forgotten, because it was followed by the Industrial Revolution – where even more important things happened.
A new type of person was created – that I want to talk about today.
Something else was invented at the same time – the Machine. The greatest invention of ours – by far. It was so important we cannot explain it in words. But can only point at it – in fascination.
It enabled Man to harness natural forms of Power – beginning with Wind Power and Water Power – instead of relying on Muscle Power.
This was a huge event – and had a huge impact on the human psyche. People became powerful – but powerful in a way they could not comprehend – and still cannot comprehend. They just rushed to serve it.
This impulse to serve a higher power was built into the human mind. And was one of the things that made us powerful. People could act together to serve a collective goal – what the goal was, hardly mattered. Once they believed in it – the goal took over.
With the advent of the Machine – a new goal took over. And People became Machine People. More powerful than anything before them – a new identity they were proud of. This new kind of people, however – had a serious limitation – they could not think, and had no self-awareness!
They were only parts of a Machine.
This conversion, which was similar to a religious conversion – was not total, the machine mind and the human mind coexisted in a complex mixture. But the machine mind was dominant.
This was the world I was born into, in the American Midwest, in the Thirties. We were devoted to the Car – and Detroit was the car-manufacturing center of the world.
My hometown of Ft. Madison, Iowa was devoted to the Santa Fe Railroad in the west end of town – and the Sheaffer Pen Company in the east end. There were many small businessmen – and my father was one of them, with his Smith Studio.
They were part of the Industrial Machine – that provided lots of jobs, good jobs, where one worker (usually the father) could support a family easily.
This world is no longer – no one noticed its passing in the Fifties and Sixties. Ft. Madison is now part of the American Rust Belt, with empty factories, and few jobs.
But one thing has not changed – Americans still think the same – that is, they do not think at all. They are still parts of a machine – even though the machine itself no longer exists!