This bush is on fire, and we have misplaced god.
We draw a line around what is sacred, to set it apart as special. We imagine the planet as a precious blue marble floating in space, so small and far away we cannot see the delicate contours of our own faces turned upwards towards the night sky, doing the imagining. We worship the lands that give us life, the earth that sustains us with its salty waters and wild winds, its mud and grit. We encircle the world in the darkness of outer space, and it shimmers all the brighter. But when we're not paying attention, the lines we draw around the sacred can cut us right through the middle.
Jeff asks, "With recent discussions in the news about human beings one day traveling to Mars and setting up colonies there, I was wondering: What would Druidry on Mars look like?" Can you even do Druidry in space? One of the lessons that Druidry teaches is that every apparently empty "space" is already a place even before we arrive, brimming with its own qualities and communities that will inevitably draw us into relationship and change us. If the Star Trek: Original Series declaration to boldly go "where no man has gone before" is overtly sexist, the Next Generation's revision to go "where no one has gone before" is equally problematic...
Jeff Lilly's most recent article raises a lot of questions about the assumptions we make when it comes to the relationship between knowing the facts and actually understanding what those facts can tell us. It turns out that huge stockpiles of consumers' personal information, known as "Big Data," might not be the Holy Grail that the tech industry would like it to be. Persistent cultural biases can blind us to unexpected interpretations, or even lead us to see patterns where none exist at all. But what does that mean for the rest of us? For those of us more likely to be on the receiving end of Big Data-driven marketing strategies and social media algorithms, the limits of Big Data are both a blessing and a warning. How will these new insights change the way we think about our online lives?
I love when life gives me what I like to call "xkcd Moments."
See, I've been meaning to migrate the archives of my former Meadowsweet & Myrrh site on Blogger over to this domain, but website design is really only something I do with any gusto when the
obsession mood strikes me. So there the old girl languishes, attracting the occasional lost traveler and a whole lot of spambots. Which brings me to this morning, when I opened my email inbox to discover that someone had left this comment...
The outpouring of warm sentiments and fond memories on the internet today about the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a reminder that what we accomplish in this life is deeply colored by who we are. We are flawed, imperfect human beings. As T Thorn Coyle says, "You try to do good work in the world, and die when you die." This iMac computer that I write on is just a gadget, hardly better or worse than any other in the grand scheme of things. Many ethical and environmental compromises went into its making and marketing. Yet it has also opened up opportunities for conversation and community that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.
If future anthropologists are one day sorting through ancient literature trying to find some insight into today's modern Western culture, they would do well to read this book. Not because it's all that good, but because to understand a culture it's often very useful to look at its worst fears. In this sense, The Road is a perfect artifact, a precise and unself-conscious portrayal of consumer culture's unique nightmare: the end of consumer culture.