The Museum of Vestigial Desire


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The misinformation that we are living in a connected world, where every node is just a hops away from any other node was distributed with ease. It entered our belief systems through our hair. The systemic nature of the world, the repercussions felt, the tremors experienced gained folkloric value. After a point, even air breathed in and out by the pores of the skin came to be understood as a medium. A medium in which we are all suspended.

Cyberspace was received as ecology. A bundle of feedback loops obscured the fact that it itself was just a vagrant thread of an intricate garment. Like music to the dead, cybernetics was the epiphany of the grand narrative. It was invented and immediately poof went the world. The city as the first cyberspace was a desperate idea, the magic of cybernetics and the failure of density made the pressure impossible. The magic of cybernetics was the ability to magnify the expanse of systems. A small spider web seemed to be sometimes the grid holding the oceans in its bosom. Density promised to become the last kick that triggers a massive stampede in the public gallery of urban heroes. All the years we waited for density to trigger a spark we now describe as wasted. We realise that it was a false promise and do not hold a grudge. Living in a cluster bomb that failed to detonate, we accept density to be a natural calamity that was forced to justify its existence. And it pulled a mythology out of its ass.

That everything is connected and wound deep in a series of feedback loops was one day declared casually in the marketplace. We thought initially that it was a random quirk of a crazy old man who pretended to be our king. But slowly it became very difficult to talk of anything at all. There was no hygiene in conversations. Every conversation became about everything else. Nothing in particular and everything in particular at the same time. And the connection actually seemed to be there. The domino effect, the butterfly effects were affecting us everyday. Action became difficult, whereas before we would go hunting and dancing on a procession anytime, now we had to think of dancing only and hunting with farm animals. Private and in captivation. We started having to account for the repercussions of totally harmless actions. Cybernetics ruined spontaneity forever, it killed the joyful child-heart in our breasts and replaced it with a calculating metal automaton.

Of course in truth cybernetics was a dream state expression. A poet's abstraction, it was foolish to ever apply it on a living world. You can argue that the abstraction was modelled on events in the real world, but then I will say that we don't believe you. Modelling is abstraction anyway, it takes a stretch of imagination, a suspension of disbelief and linear simplicity.

The city as the first cybernetic space, as the network that made Internet possible was a misnomer. The streets are not connected to each other, they don't constitute a map. Going one one and reaching another is more an accident than a successful plan. Like persistence of vision is a myth, perception of networks, meshes, nests is one too. Myths can simplify stories and gift them logic they don't possess, they arise from squinted-eyes looking at the world and proclaiming voila!

Cities are a series of lines, a bunch of fragments hanging loosely in a bag together. The connections are drawn by our eager minds. Houses are constructed close to each other, society is a mirage imagined in our heads. So the need of the millennia might be to learn to live with the disjointed and not crumble in desperation and crawl towards mirages. The trouble with a mirage is of course that it does not know that it is a mirage. It actually thinks that it is like everything else and the devastating moment when it feels its own transparency, it crumbles and a new one comes up.

Learning to thrive on scraps, look confidently into a shattered mirror and not balk is the only option we have. Else the recursion of disillusionment will swallow our fragile minds and consciousness will forever have to live in our absence.

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