The Feedback Loop of Disconnection
November 16, 2010 1 Comment
One thing I adore about writing – maybe not so much as talking, but it’s close – is the way ideas come about simply through the creative process. Stop and think hard for a while and it’s unlikely you’ll come up with anything original; start writing about it, even something only tangentially related, and as if by magic new things seem to pop out of the ends of your fingers, or pen (actually, I reckon it would be even more apparent with a pen, pencil or brush due to its tactility).
Today was no exception: I was working on a particularly difficult concept, which is how to make the Tools of Disconnection absolutely at the centre of the book. This is difficult because the concept, rather than the Tools themselves, is so esoteric – so what if there are things that make people less inclined to connect with the real world, we all have to get on with our lives, don’t we? This afternoon I was reading a very readable paper by Raymond de Young, called “Restoring Mental Vitality in an Endangered World: Reflections on the Benefits of Walking”, and pulled out something utterly fascinating – the assertion that it is our natural connection to the real world that we need for survival that makes us vulnerable to external, and less useful influences. Because, he says, as humans we are able to focus ourselves away from the “fascination” of natural occurences, we are also vulnerable to being “hijacked” when that focus wanes. Because we live in civilized environments, for the most part, when we lose focus, unlike in survival situations when we would reconnect with – for instance – the movement of a river, or the sound of a predator, the industrial system grabs our “fascination” for its own ends.
This is perhaps an even more esoteric idea than the Tools of Disconnection, but then while trying to knit the two together I stumbled upon an idea that made perfect sense: it is not the system purposefully trying to disconnect us from the real world, but the application of a range of methods of control (i.e. the normal way that we are contained within a civilized mindset) that creates that disconnection. What then happens is that state of disconnection makes us even more vulnerable to being controlled – we become more dependent on the system, although that’s sneaking into psychoanalysis, so I thought I’d better leave that bit out. Anyway, by contrasting that with the feedbacks loops occuring in the climate system, I was able to make – I think – quite a powerful statement regarding Disconnection, and why it is so important to Undermine these Tools.
Next stop is relisting the Tools of Disconnection, now 15, including the Uber-Tool (more later) which I will get on to this week. Meanwhile I have just assembled a pile of packing boxes for a Freecycler, and really must go and have a wee…