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…



“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
of hope,
of dreams,
of rumours.

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.


About Dick Jones

I'm a post-retirement Drama teacher, currently working part-time. I have a grown-up son and daughter, three grandchildren and three young children from my second marriage. I write - principally poetry but prose too, both fitfully published. My poetry collection Ancient Lights is published by Phoenicia Publishing ( and my translation of Blaise Cendrars' 'Trans-Siberian Prosody and Little Jeanne from France' (illustrated by my friend, the artist, writer and long-time blogger Natalie d'Arbeloff) is published by Old Stile Press ( I play bass guitar & bouzouki in the song-based acoustic/electric trio Moorby Jones, playing entirely original material. spotify:artist:07MDD5MK9MnRGSEZwbsas9 I have a dormant blog with posts going back to 2004 at Dick Jones' Patteran Pages - - and I'm a radio ham. My callsign is G0EUV
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2 Responses to THE WAY THINGS ARE

  1. sackerson says:

    A nice echo of the Waste Land with its red rock there. The thing about replacing people… Interesting that in searching for exoplanets and categorizing galaxies scientists have turned to people, citizen science projects, to identify features they’re looking for. People do it better.

  2. Dick says:

    Thanks, Dom. The one-on-one interrogator will always be with us. People do better.

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