Everything flows (toward the same)

Another move toward quantified life, a mode of totalitarianism, this time in the form of a watch, wrist-worn data collection and feedback loops for the wealthy. In an opening that reads a lot like Vassily Grossman in Everything flows in this earlier note, Julian Baggini writes;

From the printing press to the telephone to the tablet computer, new technologies have usually passed through three stages. First, they are laughed off as stupid novelties with little use other than to entertain geeks. Then, as they begin to become popular, they are deplored as threats to civilisation which will turn into mindless, atomised narcissists. Finally, everyone uses them and we wonder what all the fuss was about.

— Julian Baggini, Apple Watch, are you feeling the terror? Guardian, 11 March 2015

"… eviscerating, meditation on the monstrous results of the Soviet experiment [Stalinism]"   Image crop from the cover of Vassily Grossman,  Everything flows,   NYRB Classics

"…eviscerating, meditation on the monstrous results of the Soviet experiment [Stalinism]"

Image crop from the cover of Vassily Grossman, Everything flows, NYRB Classics

Notes for later. Could the figure, fourth from the left, be turning to ask for the time? Do you suppose the time would have mattered on a forced trek to the gulags in sub-zero temperatures? How far to soup? Where the Soviets as precise as the English and the German National Socialists in documenting their crimes: name, number, date and place of incarceration, property seizure logs, etcetera. That earlier mode of data entry: handwritten and typed records.

death of politics that matters

Iceland, google satellite image

Iceland, google satellite image

In Everything Flows Vassily Grossman writes about the way what had seemed an anomaly —a gross distortion of reality — became the everyday norm. His words seem timeless to me, equally applicable today to the distortions of democracy and human rights. Think of the event below not as the Russian Revolution, but as the eleventh of September two thousand and one, or, as the stockmarket crash in two thousand and eight when one 'infallible' bank after another folded, or if you are Palestinian, the day Israel became a state.

The years passed, the dust and fog cleared, and it became possible to work out what had happened. What had once seemed like chaos, or insanity, like self destruction, like a chain of absurd coincidences, what had once driven people out of their minds became it seems so mysteriously and tragically senseless—all this gradually became recognizable as the clean distinct attributes of the new reality. p.162