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Friday, July 25, 2008

The 20th Century is characterized by both visionary dreams of amazing scientific advancement (the Space Race; Astrophysics; the Computer Revolution; organ transplant surgery) and nightmares of barbarism (death camp experiments; Hiroshima; Vietnam; serial killings). Clearly, our astounding technological innovation has not been accompanied by “utopian” social progress or a sweeping elevation of individual clarity. The basic underpinnings of society seem flawed: the structural myths, goals, icons, and values; as well as the information processing/analytic capabilities of its citizens. Just as their myth about the coming of a white messiah prepared the Aztecs for an easy takeover and slaughter by a handful of Spanish conquistadores, so our fundamental mythology may be preparing us for what now seems inevitable: the suicide of the planet Earth.
This short paragraph may be the most succinct enunciation of The Problem I've yet seen. It's the first paragraph of Andre Juno & V. Vale's introduction to Ballard's The Atrocity Exhibition, the first word of which (quite appropriately) is "apocalypse."
"In his mind World War III represents the final self-destruction and imbalance of an asymmetric world, the last suicidal spasm of the dextro-rotatory helix, DNA. The human organism is an atrocity exhibition at which he is an unwilling spectator..." —J.G. Ballard
Epigrams for my dissertation...