A long read, but a good one, for anyone who loves reading and artistry with words. ~R
~Lewis H Lapham
Editor of Lapham’s Quarterly and author of numerous books including Pretensions to Empire.
To the extent that more people become more frightened of a future that calls all into doubt, they exchange the force of their own thought for the power they impute to supernatural machines. To wage the war against terror the Pentagon sends forth drones, robots and surveillance cameras, hard-wired as were the spirits under the command of Faustus, “to fetch me what I please/Resolve me of all ambiguities/Perform what desperate enterprise I will”.
Wall Street clerks subcontract the placing of $100 billion bets to the judgment of computer databanks that stand as silent as the stones on Easter Island, while calculating at the speed of light the rates of exchange between the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. By way of projecting a federal budget deficit into both the near and distant future, the season’s presidential candidates float cloud-capped towers of imaginary numbers destined to leave not a rack behind.
The US body politic, meanwhile, dissolves into impoverished constituencies of one, stripped of “profit and delight” in the realm of fact, but still sovereign in the land of make-believe. Every once and future king is possessed of a screen like the enchanted mirror that Lady Galadriel shows to Frodo Baggins in the garden at Caras Galadhon; the lost and wounded self adrift in a sea of troubles but equipped with the remote control that once was Prospero’s; blessed, as was the tragical Doctor Faustus, with instant access to the dreams “of power, of honour, of omnipotence”. (more)