Man Meets Himself as Machine

        (Sexist resonance intentional)

        6. Our wedding with machinery is lost in time. From the first, it altered all about us, in ways that kept changing. But our consciousness of Machine as entity, powerful as the nature-god, is recent. True, it often flared up, like freshly discovered fire or Cortez's musketry at the Aztecs, when particular technologies sent change cascading through societies. But such flashes of perception were discontinuous. Only when material invention accelerated to become a steady phenomenon during each person's life, only when each saw many new machines "causing" the transformation of his society before his living eyes, could we identify the Machine as such, and begin to grasp and dread it as an agency of change.

Similarly, when we yoked the stars into astronomy to guide our planting, the gap between the opening of a science and its elaboration into a practical technology was many lifetimes. Sometime after the Middle Ages, the gap shrank to less than the lifetime of some Western men, enabling them to recognize science as connected with technology -- as, in fact, a tool that could be deliberately manipulated to change our technological condition (precisely as this in turn enabled us to transform the material continents, leveling mountains and joining oceans). From this point, the organized practice of science as we know it begins.

        7. Panorama: Renaissance craftsmen, kept court scholars, ambitious traders, artifact multiplication. By the seventeenth century, our image of the Machine was sufficiently developed for Hobbes to articulate in its terms an image of Man and the Social Body. Governance in Western society, with its authoritarian control of the spirit, is still based on his metaphor, formed in our early flush of triumph at mechanical domination of nature.

        8. The impact of machine-connected change continued to increase as the giant baby Man closed his fist around his new rattle and shook it. Soon we were forced to recognize the progression of technology as central to our civilization, and men came to speak of the Industrial Revolution. Since Marx's time, we've started to explore this recognition and to realize how technological transformation shapes and is shaped by our economic processes and our cognition. In my lifetime, the recognition has deepened toward understanding ours as the first human culture to be organized around its own continual radical transformation through being geared to high technology. Already the pace stresses us near our limits, forcing us as a species to change our capacities or get off the trolley, forcing us to confront radical transformation as the underlying and naked condition of the universe. (Hence, the reconstruction of our relationship with our technologies must be based on a metaphysic of Change.) Thus we meet Transformation through the Machine; and come to invest its joint-and-pulley skeleton with all the emotions we now feel facing the Abyss. As our culture is ill and balks at motion, our feelings are deeply out of balance: we see the Machine mostly in terms of greed and fear.

        9. Millennia ago, dominance in our culture shifted from female to male; we've just now begun to seek balance. Our image of power -- male, overdeveloped, all Yang in its action, in accord with our cultural sex roles -- determines our view of the machines that empower us, and conditions their uses. We have made minimal use of their softer/decentralizing potentials. The beginning concern of political movements with sexuality and gender-equity opens the first promise of a more harmonious Way with machinery.

        10. Yang culture embodies terror of all that is holey, from cunt to death, the dissolution of structure to be reformed. Its style is Grasping, in fear of Letting Go. Against death, in the ego-greed for unchanging immortality, the Pharaohs raised the Pyramids by means of what Mumford calls "megamachines." Their body: organized ranks of artisans/laborers. Their power: mostly human muscle. Their organization and operation: the simplest separation of the skills, the simplest multiplication of the powers, of one man building a tomb to guard the body from change. So many units to measure; so many to cut; so many to lift; so many to place. All under central control of the head. In modern capitalist society, we armor ourselves against the present as well as the future; in our searching for security the Ways of Power have grown more subtle and complex. But ego-greed still stirs the pot, moved by fear of diminishment, sharing, release. And in our culture of control, the shape of our technology (and to some extent the place of our women) is as it was for the Pharaohs. The pyramid Apollo whose capstone soared to poke she-moon for investigation was the action of megamachine: so many to calculate, so many to weld, etc., each with his powers multiplied mechanically, all working on isolate stones as specialists, coordinated and directed by a centralized intelligence agency. Our megamechanical organization extends beyond our material industries. All our functional institutions -- the army, organized medicine, the welfare system -- operate as megamachines whose social product is the perpetuation of centralized power. Our educational system is doubly organized around this mechanical image; itself a megamachine, with ensembles of specialists, it functions to train and acculturate people to posts in the social megamachinery. (Hence the system is built upon principles of division, hierarchy, and so on -- the comprehensive Yang chord of Chapter V.)

        11. To us the Machine is male, and his secret name is Golem. (2) Dividing all, our culture outers what it conceives of as its evil onto the machine, which comes to be seen as an "independent" creation which will rise and turn to destroy us. Long ago Golem appeared in our nightmares. As our skill with machinery grew, we provided him with hands and a sufficient arsenal, invented in the services of conquest. Now we are busy designing his brain. Out of habit, computers, our highest technological art, are developing mainly within the uses of war and economic exploitation. Now the time for Golem's waking nears, reporters gather at the door with flashbulbs. When he rises from the table, his expression will be dreadful, and his two male fists of Violence and Control unbalanced in terrible caricature.

        12. Other images of the Machine as (Hu)Man are possible. We have only their fragments. (3)

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