7th September 2016
Steven Poole’s thoughtful essay, Does it matter if Google is rewiring our minds (26 August), triggered multiple synapses, dendricities and detours in my biome.
It reinforced my visceral dislike of the on-line universe which I visit only when I must, fiercely resist its colonising of all aspects of our lives, and despair over the ecocidal costs it externalises onto the Earth whose wellbeing is inextricable from our own. I don’t know if this makes me an elderly Luddite or a canary in the mine.
David Abrams, in his splendid and seminal book The Spell of the Sensuous, asks how we have become so estranged from non-humankind (8 billion species and counting) that our discourse is unquestioningly predicated on enslaving and reifying the biosphere, drowns out all voices but the anthropocentric, and has forgotten ‘our carnal inherence in a more-than-human matrix of sensations and sensibilities’. He postulates that it was the development of the written word that first displaced this inherence, and sundered us from reciprocity and kinship with ‘the wild and multiplicitous other’.
I would argue that in allowing technology to rewire, mediate and define our experience, we’re not just further selling our souls and birthrights, but terminally turning our backs on an ecological literacy and wisdom essential to our survival. All of us – microscopic diatoms, great whales, Huon pines, sea eagles – arose from stardust. The blood in our veins differs by just one element (iron as opposed to magnesium) from the chlorophyll that animates green and lifegiving fecundity. We are the trees breathing, the rocks dancing. And as the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, ‘What we need in our time is to hear within us the sounds of the earth crying’.
Peace be springfully with you all