“Can I talk to a real computer please?”

Culturally, the watershed moment will be when people begin to prefer AI over other people. Only if and when that happens, will there be something like a 4th industrial revolution – a revolution that ultimately overcomes homo sapiens itself. From: Kamiel Choi, our last century.


“Can I talk to a real computer please?” was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: What Kind Of Times Are These by Arienne Rich

A very popular public poet, Arienne Rich (1929-2012) was also a leading feminist activist. Her poetry career stretches many decades and she was awarded many prizes. Her book ‘Diving into the Wreck’ is probably her most well-known publication. She is a kindred soul, who told us that “perhaps just such a passionate skepticism, neither cynical nor nihilistic, is the ground for continuing.” The following poem is, of course, eerily relevant today:

What kind of times are these
There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light—
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it’s necessary
to talk about trees.

Ah, the revolutionary struggle and its victims, those revolutionaries who went farther than any other and were persecuted for it. The shadows of the revolutionary road, when the revolution is cut off from its hope to change society, but lingers around as her shadow.

Yet, the revolution is not the Russian one. The I has picked mushrooms ‘at the edge of dread’, and tells us that America also has some sort of gulag, or at least a way to make people disappear (or just crush the revolutionary spirit?). To join the fashionable liberalist lamentation: Donald Trump made half of his government disappear into the shadows, and 14 million people’s health insurance, and the lifelihood of so many more has already dissolved into shadows.

The place in the woods she describes reminds me of a hidden bower, somewhere in a Californian forest where some anarchist group gathers. But the place is endangered, some project developer wants to buy it and ‘make it disappear’ (drain the swamp). She tells us all this because it is ‘necessary to talk about trees’ in order for people to listen. Why? Trees are lining the revolutionary road, they provide a hideout, they are not contaminated, they offer some sort of neutral perspective. Talking about the trees, rather than the broken revolutionary road in between them, is a smart move.

Indeed, many present-day activists could learn from this. They refuse to talk about anything else than their Cause, intentionally or inadvertently mocking everybody with a different view. Talk about the trees instead, maybe they will listen to you. Occupy Wallstreet broke off into shadows – will its successor fare any better?

Reading: What Kind Of Times Are These by Arienne Rich was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: It’s been a long time by Joanne Kyger

Beat poetry is something different. Joanne Kyger (1934-2017), associated with the San Francisco Renaissance, was influenced by Zen Buddhism, lived in Japan, traveled in India with Ginsberg. I like this song of hers:

It’s been a long time
During the beat of this story you may find other beats. I mean
a beat, I mean Cantus, I mean Firm us, I mean paper, I mean in
the Kingdom which is coming, which is here in discovery.

It is also Om Shri Maitreya, you don’t go across my vibes,
but with them, losing the pronoun. It is Thy, it is Thee,
it is I, it is me.

Machines are metal, they serve us, we take care of them. This
is to me, and this is to you. You say you to me, and I say you
to you. Some machines are very delicate, they are precise, they
are not big metal stampers, She made enough poetry to keep
her company.

My Vibes. You intercepted my vibes. The long shadows,
the long shadows, the long shadows. My sweet little tone,
my sweet little tone is my arm.

On what Only: The song that girl sang the song that girl sang

Lovely how that first stanza feels so different from serious academic poetry, ain’t it? Maitreya is the future Buddha, a perfectly Enlightened One, who will come when the dharma will have been forgotten. So we can scrap our pronoun, it doesn’t matter because it’s everything.

The lines about the machines are wonderfully stoned. Maybe the delicate and precise machinery is language, which is no big metal stamper but allows us to create something that can keep us company (some regard of poetry!) But let’s not interrupt her chanting, ssst.

Instead, let’s enjoy this with some psychedelics:

Reading: It’s been a long time by Joanne Kyger was originally published on Meandering home