We are informed that digitisation will, ultimately, replace every function currently managed by human agency. We will be counselled by robots; automated doctors will diagnose and prescribe; classroom learning will be directed by a disembodied electronic presence; all vehicular transport will be driven by software linked to monitoring centres… Our enslavement will no longer be to those whose brute ambition has carried them to seat of power. Now we shall be in thrall to voltage, circuitry, polarity, current.
But what of the interrogator? How could any robotic medium replace the infinite subtlety of an O’Brien? Surely the wayward passages of the human mind can only be apprehended by another human mind, one which, however detached now, however depraved, has experienced the shock of love, the submersive power of gilded memory, the cataract of fear…
THE WAY THINGS ARE
“There are things we kept secret
after the locking of the doors,
the drawing of the curtains. Please
read this by candlelight and then
burn it to a flake. Be safe and reach
through shadows silently towards the light…”
Sit down here, by this closed window
and consider it this way:
that not even dust remains
of how things were
before the sleep of reason;
that not a carbon trace is left
of what once might have been.
Relax. Sit back in your chair
and listen to my voice.
You know the properties
You know how rich
the imagined landscape,
and how true that stranger’s voice,
its cadences so clear.
And then a sighting here and there
of those enchanters in their motley,
dancing by firelight and singing
in the old tongue?
But now consider this:
here, the light that shivers in my paperweight,
these, the blue fumes from my cigarette,
they are of the real world.
Watch them with me now,
just the two of us, and know
from these my words and this
the sound of my voice,
the way things are.
THE WAY THINGS ARE