The dragon is coming – let’s hide!
No! No! When his mouth opens wide,
Jump in it and cut
His hot fiery gut;
Slay him, skin him, and then tan his hide.
Agreeableness, Australian poet, Australian traditional poetry, Carl Jung, Id, Integrating the shadow, Italian sonnet, Jungian psychology, Petrarchan sonnet, poem, poetry, Psychology, Shadow archetype, Sigmund Freud, sonnet, The Dark Side, the Persona, The shadow
The shadow lurks beneath your consciousness.
Go meet him, for he is your primal mate;
Engage with this dark archetype innate.
For your persona he could not care less,
And this he will quite willingly confess.
In order that you reach a stronger state
Your darkness and your light must integrate;
It isn’t wise, your shadow to suppress.
It’s best that you confront your darker side
To understand your capabilities
And realize potential waiting there.
Until you do, he deep within will hide,
While conscious self will try its best to please,
By being nice, agreeable and fair.
The microprocessor is at its heart.
Its motor is a crystal made of stone.
Turn on the mystic power and watch it start.
You don’t know how it works? You’re not alone.
A blue ray player or a mobile phone,
Or any number of these weird gadgets;
The electronics in a deadly drone;
The microchips beneath the skin of pets
Injected by computer-challenged vets;
Sure they are useful, but how do they work?
Online you buy your stocks and place your bets
With no idea of what components lurk
Beneath the covers, integrated there –
Transistors and resistors or – thin air?
A Return to the Age of Magic
Primitive man thought fire was magic, and he could make magic; he was the magician who by rubbing two sticks together or by using a flint and some dry tinder could perform the trick. Sure, he didn’t know what fire really was, scientifically that is; he didn’t know that it was the rapid oxidisation of fuel, but he knew its properties – it was hot, it burnt, it cooked meat, and he knew how to make it, and he taught his children how to make it. The whole tribe was right up with technology; if a fire-maker died, another one could take his place. So much for fire. Technology advanced and along came the wheel. Everyone could understand the wheel; why hadn’t someone thought of it before? Well, as one primitive card joked: “Who wants to carry a wheel around?” It was so simple. You could see it working. It wasn’t that hard to make. So the wheel led to the cart and that was pretty straightforward as well. Things were progressing at speed now and before long all sorts of new technology emerged: the horse collar, metals, weaving, new building techniques, and then, steam – well steam engines; they were a great leap forward, but still, like all the new inventions or discoveries before them, you could see them, you could touch them, you could hear them. You could make out what was going on if you really took a good look – it wasn’t really magic, it was the product of man’s inventive genius, and most men with just a bit of effort could, to a reasonable extent, understand it. All of this mechanical technology was open to the curious eye and the curious brain. People on the whole were pretty technology savvy. You may see a fine bridge being built and know that you could build something similar, perhaps not as well made, perhaps just a log across a creek, but a bridge of sorts. You may not be able to make a steam engine or be able to separate iron from its ore and beat it into a sword, (or if you were a pacifist, a plough share) but if you used your eyes and ears and your brain you could pretty much figure out how these things were done. Along came the internal combustion engine – it wasn’t so hard to understand: instead of externally created steam, the internal explosions of sucked in (or injected) fuel plus air drove the pistons up and down, and the connecting rods and crankshaft converted that to a rotary motion – just like the steam engine – this was pretty common knowledge, at least among men. The internal combustion engine would spawn the motor car – perhaps one of the most widely understood technological developments of all. The motor car and its constituent parts were visible and touchable (and modifiable) and therefore understandable to the layman. You didn’t have to be a motor mechanic to at least have a reasonable idea of how a car worked. So far so good; men could still identify with technology; they could still to a fair extent understand it, and as yet they weren’t afraid of it, but things were starting to change. Technology was starting to get more complicated and more sophisticated, and thus more difficult for many to understand, more of it was becoming hidden from direct view you might say, and soon the specialists would be coming into their own. Along comes electricity. Now electricity is relatively simple; we see it in lightning and we experience it when we get a static electricity shock, but this new electricity was different. It was generated by man, and it ran in wires, but you couldn’t see it or hear it (and you certainly couldn’t touch it), but still it wasn’t too hard to understand – basically an electromotive force that propelled electrons through a circuit, and you could see the generator whirling away; at least you could see and hear that; that was comforting. Sure, you had to be an Electrical Engineer to really understand it and only electricians could work on the stuff but those with a reasonable store of grey cells could come to a reasonably satisfactory understanding of it. Those who weren’t so blessed, or just couldn’t give a damn, just gave up. That perhaps, was the start of the common man distancing himself from how technology works.(but not from technology) Along came electronics. When you mess with electricity and fundamentally change it it’s called electronics. Just putting a diode in the way of the alternating current to rectify it is electronics. Creating direct current and then using that to power electronic equipment is more advanced electronics. Along came what the British call “the valve” and Americans “the vacuum tube.” (Australians, being difficult, used both terms) and along came radios etc.. Well radio wasn’t that complicated (Oh yes it bloody well is!) – The basic technique for communication by radio: Electromagnetic waves modulated by a signal and then radiated from a radio transmitter’s aerial and then picked up at a distance by a radio receiver which demodulated the signal and thus made sense of it. (modulator / demodulator = modem – heard of that?) Like I said – simple, but only trained radio people understood it. You couldn’t see or hear or touch the radio waves – more people gave up trying to keep up with the galloping technology – what’s a radio? – answer: that box the music comes out of. Along came the transistor. It’s just a lump of doped silicon with three leads attached (ok technofreaks, there are different types of transistors but I’m trying to keep this simple – ok?) but it replaced the valve (tube) and made miniaturization possible. (I knew one aging technician who used to call transistors “whiskers” – the poor sod had cut his teeth on tubes) So ok, by now only the specialists who designed or worked on this gear (or fixed it) knew how it worked, but at least they could still see what was going on. They could see (and replace if necessary) the transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors and coils, but then came – integrated circuits. Suddenly nearly all the transistors were squeezed onto tiny silicon chips – some of the older specialists retired – burnt out you might say; they just couldn’t take it anymore. Then along came microprocessors and the Personal Computer. Now this was where the hardware guy had to become the hardware and software guy. He still understood what was inside the box and how it worked, but nobody else apart from the designer nerds in dust coats in the chip and computer factories did, and they were pretty much divided into hardware and software tribes. As far as the average punter was concerned it was way past the point of being understandable in any shape or form – it was just useful. Along came even larger scale integration, surface-mount, extreme miniaturization, and multilayer circuit boards. Now only the designers in some far off (probably Asian) country really understood how it worked, and it was virtually unfixable when it didn’t. (At least at the component level) The technicians were now just circuit board swappers or more often entire box swappers. Faulty boards and boxes were thrown in the trash – not fixed. The real electronics technician had long ago died of old age, was in his dotage, or was doing something completely different while having fond dreams of the Golden Age of Electronics. The public, particularly the young, could expertly operate the latest technology, but with very few exceptions, had not the faintest idea of how any of it worked.
To the primitive man fire was magic and he didn’t understand it (he didn’t really need to) but he knew how to make it and how to use it, and this knowledge was widespread. Now only a relative few even know how to interconnect and program the ever shrinking boxes; a tiny number know how to make them, and virtually no one really understands them. So how do they work? Isn’t it obvious? It’s magic!
No! Don’t lend an ear to their lies!
To these tricksters from Hell, and be wise
To their dastardly schemes,
Their malevolent dreams;
Don’t surrender! Don’t apologise!
“The cavalry’s coming, that’s great!
They’ll save us from a dreadful fate!”
They heard the hooves pounding,
The bugle was sounding,
But they were a little too late.
The Last Straw
Please give shelter to me and my spouse.
Someone left the gate open – the louse!
See, we built out of straw,
(For it now is the law)
And the cows have just eaten our house.
You know that show on TV – the one where some well-groomed and fashionable guy follows the building antics of earnest eco-friendly hipster couples as they build houses out of cow shit, straw, lime and mud, while hinting to us deplorable viewers, living in our unsustainable houses of bricks and mortar, concrete, timber and steel, that we are condemning planet Earth to a slow and agonizing death. And the variation on the theme, where they are rescuing some decrepit old industrial building, church, water tower or some such wreck that has three intact bricks and a few half-rotten sticks of timber left in its sorry carcass? Yep that’s the one – it’s about sustainable and therefore virtuous building methods – at least that’s what the host, and the builders (well the couple who supervise the rather bemused actual builders) say with monotonous regularity, but you know what? They never explain exactly how this “sustainable” building is going to save the Earth. It’s all very strange – after all, as their pile gradually rises, or as that aforementioned existing (well actually hardly existing at all) building is torn down and but for those few bricks and rotten bits of timber is completely rebuilt, millions of tons of concrete is being poured all over the world and there are skyscrapers going up everywhere, and they are not built out of cow shit and straw (well I hope not!). I may be missing something, but to me it’s a bit like what’s happening with our power generation here in Australia – we’re shutting down our few coal-fired power stations to reduce emissions, and relying on unreliable “green” power while the Indians and Chinese are building hundreds of coal-fired power stations and burning our coal! Ah! Emotion triumphs over logic once again! But I digress – for some reason the left (for that’s the club the above-mentioned people obviously belong to) has got a bee in its collective bonnet about concrete and steel, but concrete in particular. According to them it’s not “sustainable” to build with the stuff – what do they mean? Have any of them been to Rome? The Romans invented concrete! Have they seen the Pantheon dome? Yes, a lot of concrete is still there, 1600 years after the fall of their empire, and there would have been a lot more to see had not a bunch of hairy and concrete-ignorant Germans known as the Goths sacked the city and no doubt knocked a lot of it down. With a little bit of maintenance the Colosseum would have been standing now in all its glory and fully intact. It takes energy to make concrete and steel, but it takes energy to make cow shit and straw and lime and mud as well. As far as I know no one has done the sums, but I suspect, all things taken into account, there’s not much difference. The materials for the making of concrete are, in practical terms, inexhaustible. For something or some practice to be “sustainable” it must be able to remain intact for a long period, to continue, to endure – my money is on concrete, not cow shit and straw.
I remember fondly, as a child I’d seek the rainbow’s end.
I’d brave the showers that brought it, and I’d follow its bright bend,
For I had heard the tales – the wondrous stories that were told
Of how this bow of colours ended in a pot of gold.
But now it’s said, its meaning’s changed; no longer it’s a sign
(Though seven hues not rearranged; its arcing form as fine.)
Of treasure everlasting; of the promise and the power
Of the One whose light via raindrops makes a multicoloured bower.