A few weeks ago, in support of a customer's new facilities, I tasked a satellite imaging platform to take a photograph of Dubbo, Australia, using an app on my iPhone. Placing the instruction took less than two minutes, the longest part of which was downloading the app. The processed image was downloaded to my device before close of business that same day.
Against a glowing surface, my hand describes a complex sigil, and orbital mechanisms leap into action on my whim.
Next up: pulling together the components for Karsus's Avatar
After reading your comment, I was curious what your photograph might have looked like and where Dubbo was. A moment later, I had selected, searched for, and been presented with images of and articles about Dubbo. I gave them a brief, bored glance and moved on.
I have found the facade of control that technology presents is easily punctured by a few days outside of cell range in rugged wilderness. Being alone in emergency situations also reveals our total lack of control over the whims of fate. Basically, when it comes to dealing with substantial, immediate personal problems technology is still pretty useless.
Our homes are not just like a king's palace, when it comes to comforts, entertainment, and petty luxuries, but like a king's palace in the middle of a once-in-a-generation, no-expense-spared festival. But multiplied by 100. And they're like that 24/7, year-round.
If I were somehow transported back in time to The Field Of The Cloth Of Gold, I’d probably be bored because my phone wouldn’t work, and the wine would probably suck. It’s hard to make good wine without knowing what yeast is.
No joke. We burn a bunch of lightbulbs with candle powers measured in the hundreds, have several kinds of entertainment of the highest quality that's ever existed anywhere available at the literal press of a button or with the right spoken command, have a librarian-scribe who can fetch us most any info we like nearly instantly even if it's just a passing whim, our food is abundant, cheap, outstanding, and for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.
If anything it's surprising we're not even fatter and even less well-rested. We live in a friggin' world-class carnival. Describe some medieval monarch living in some kind of environment like that and we'd simply assume they'd be a wrecked, fat drunkard with perpetual bags under their eyes in short order, even if they had the best of intentions and pretty decent character. But we wonder why we're fat and tired and write and read books about it and try not to see the obvious cause, and the cost of fixing the problem.
> for all but the poorest can be cooked and delivered by others on a fairly regular basis.
kitchens are expensive. the historical urban poor often lived in a corner of a room and bought their food from someone who had a kitchen. it makes eating home cooked meals feel absolutely decadent!
(one thing i haven't yet understood: food was cheaper than a penny, but there were no farthings or ha'pnies till much later. indeed, a penny bought about $20 worth. so did they buy meals a week at a time, and get a pastie a day or something?)
Comparisons between modern mundane luxury and the lives of ancient royalty rarely take into account the different stressors present in either case. Maybe the life of a medieval sovereign would still be preferable to that of a modern serf, if nonmaterial considerarions were included.
My assays at Crusader Kings II—squaring remarkably well with fictional and historical accounts of similar figures in roughy the same time period, see e.g. King Lear and Hamlet for good examples of the former—do not make being a medieval lord seem low-stress. Full of creature comforts and experiences unknown to most of the population at the time, yes. Though I think the environment of medieval Europe was a particularly rough one for the ruling class and at other times and places before and after, yes, it indeed would have been unreservedly "good to be the king".
How prodigious is it that so many of us know so many intricacies and details about so much stuff, from the aesthetic to the mechanic. We don't know if our point in the universe is to spread life or morality or simply to make it pretty, it's probably pointless to wonder beyond our very own life, but there's no denying that we are growing. We are becoming. Only by getting there can we know what it is. But it sure is one-of-a-kind.
All the cynicism and pessimism in the world falls short in the face of our past achievements, let alone the future potential of this Earth (I like to consider all life here to be part of the journey, we didn't exactly "win" in isolation, and "we" is more like the system to me, however large that is).
I could be getting it wrong, but I thought this was part of the wordplay of the poem. It's not necessarily what your soul wants, it's what the small sorcerer inside you wants. The one that when you get hungry says "You know you can just stay in and have someone deliver it", or when you see an interesting book mentioned in conversation goes "We can have that on our shelf in less than 2 days!".
Sure we do. These are our small-scale desires. Then you might think that on a larger scale this is not really what you want- but try to deny the right of people to desire ordering food from home, or buying online, or going where they want as fast as it's possible, or being cured from pneumonia or cancer.
In Seneca's case, at least, he advocated similar things (playing at being a destitute beggar every now and then) to remove fear of bad circumstances, not exactly to increase appreciation of good circumstances.
Something I say constantly, especially to others trying to make a decision to act, is "What's the worst thing that could possibly happen?" The thing is, you probably can't even imagine the worst thing that can possibly happen from any given decision. But by saying it out loud, you try, at least briefly. And in doing so, you often realize that "the worst thing that could possibly happen" really isn't all that bad.
I wanna ask this person on a date. What's the worst thing that could possibly happen? They say no and I feel embarrassed. It's a lot easier to do scary things if you actually think about the consequences of failure, rather than letting animal fear control you.
Discussions like this get sullied because people interpret the word "want" differently. Some interpret it as an action that is supported by a conscious will and get offended when it is supposed that they want something that is, rationally speaking, not what a person should want. Things like procrastination and gluttony. In my experience these people's thinking tends to be more libertarian. My impression is that their egos have a stronger hold on them than their material needs. Others will interpret "want" as a desire borne from basal physiology, acknowledging that we (the "person") are pilots of organic bodies (the "human") that sometimes induce certain emotions and drives that we are unable to suppress. These people tend to be more holistic thinkers.
Just like it says on the tin: "A Journal of Poetry, Cooking, & Light Industrial Safety"
It's a semi-obscure but-well-regarded-in-certain-circles poetry/literary journal that's been around since the mid-90s, that uses the aesthetics of blue-collar industrial & commercial publications, drawing on them for illustrations, section title inspiration, occasional excerpts of advice or instructions, that sort of thing. The poetry itself isn't tied down by that theme, though, and ranges as widely as any poetry journal might. Also each issue usually includes at least one recipe. (the "cooking" part).
The journals themselves tend to include some kind of physical gimmick. IIRC one early one was a bunch of loose sheets with a hole through the middle, "bound" with a bolt, nut, and washers. One came in an actual, sealed evidence bag. Issue #31's spine (the one quoted) has been dipped in wax. One's cover is sandpaper and spine covered in duct tape, another's textured with brick dust. One's got a cork driven through it and came with a corkscrew to get it out.
I like it because 1) they don't seem to take themselves too seriously, 2) their sense of whimsy is tuned to about the exact level that I find fun and enjoyable, rather than trying-too-hard and obnoxious, and 3) their taste in selecting poetry seems to place a lot of weight on whether the words and ideas stick with you, rather than sheer poetic excellence or stereotypical MFA inside-baseball wanking—I can get those things in effectively-unlimited quantities elsewhere, so I appreciate their (apparently) somewhat different editorial priorities.