Pink Fairies (Clarkia pulchella), skyview (VI.24.2009)
end of June, South Wallowas . . . [ click photo for next . . . ]
Left: Drawing made from Lewis' collected specimen, made by German-American botanist in 1814, Frederick Pursh. Pursh also named and classified Clarckia (after William Clark), + pulchella (beautiful)
A beautiful species, indeed!
(VII.28.08) On the road in the American Northwest.
WHEN 'FREE' MEANS YOU PAY
WITH YOUR DIGITAL SOUL
We shape the world and the world shapes us.
See how we have become voluntary rats in the digital maze
of the long and dirty tail of e-commerce.
Social creatures one and all, we are joyfully and miraculously
threading ourselves together into digital networks of every
description, sharing creativity, information and meaning across
past boundaries, both real and arbitrary. But at the same time
we are mindlessly taking the bait set out by a new breed of
high-tech trapper. We gladly nibble on surreptitiously scattered
crumbs of implicit intimacy, savor self-centered flirts and
innuendo, willingly devour disingenuous praise, and
recklessly rise erect to the ecstatic schadenfreude of
exposing the misstep, the mistake, the fall. And so, every
click becomes a step in a trail, with scents and scat eagerly
scooped up, tested, mapped and then charted in exquisite
detail by the digital trapper's department of behavioral analytics.
Coyote knows how to cover his tracks.
We, however, have much to learn.
We are having too much fun to take the time to watch those
who are watching us. Social creatures, one and all, yes. And now,
we are free to roam and get lost in the labyrinth of electronic
wonders we hold in our hands.
But freedom necessarily has two sides. One is effortless and
enjoyable: the freedom to, to do and think and consume
what we like. The other side—equally necessary and
essential—is the hard and unglamorous work of vigilance.
This is the freedom from side. Freedom from sets limits. As a
highway sets a speed limit of 100 k for all traffic without exception.
As an economy sets limits on the interest charged for borrowed
cash. Or as a digital network sets ipso facto limits by virtue
of its essential common ground of open-source, shared protocol.
It is interesting that vigilance and surveillance share the same root,
vigilare, 'to keep watch,' as in keeping a nightwatch as one's
comrades soundly sleep. At present, in my view, we are not being
vigilant enough, we are not being watchful enough of those who
are watching us. They are watching us for two reasons, both of
which have to do with control. Just as we are social creatures,
one and all, we are also eager to control others for self-advantage,
either for reasons of political power, or for financial gain, or,
most dangerous of all, both at once. We would do well to
remember that Benito Moussolini, no friend of freedom, is
said to have defined fascism as the state when economic
power and political power are separated by no more than
the breadth of a cigarette paper. Vigilance is needed to ensure
that our track of both digital delights, as well as our unwanted
and best forgotten digital detritus, do not become both fire
and tabac of those who wouldn't think twice about rolling us up
and smoking us alive, and then stamping out real freedom
like a discarded butt under their blackshirt boots.
Raven follows Coyote in a web of mutual benefit, without
either one trying to control the other. Again, what is missing in the
digital realm is a clear sense of the idea of limit, of freedom from as
well as freedom to. We need to be more vigilant. Vastly more vigilant,
I would say. For freedom is Culture's greatest creative artifact,
and just as Nature's fundamental asymmetry is that creation
is slow, and destruction fast, we can lose our cultural electronic
freedoms with the mere flip of a switch. Intelligent limit needs to be
given articulation and structure as the shared ground of common
sense, and as simple, universally applicable, just, and disinterested,
COMPUTERS & RIGHT MEASURE
We shape the world and the world shapes us.
Witness the ubiquitous counter of the digital age.
How many of what? A measure of what? Links?
Friends? Hits? Views? Follows?
Such measure surely in the most insidious of ways
becomes an end in itself, feeding powerfully mere
When measure has no natural limit, it runs wildly away,
much like money does, with the much-will-have-more of
greed and self-interest. Success rises hard and fast with
headshots and headcounts, and falls just as precipitously.
For the computer, counting is but mere child's play. If we
ourselves are not to become more and more mechanical
in our own thought and perception, more like the computers
we use, we would do well to limit all this counting wisely.
What we count tells us more about the formative act of counting
itself, than it is a measure of anything real, creative,
A movement of resonance
perhaps, a rhyming not of sounds or words,
but of meaning.
Do you not know this light and quick
movement of energy as two separate
thoughts touch wings and fly off
into the distance together?
Featured gallery, 100 MINIATURES, a set of 100 black & white photographs, with 100 metaphysical sayings in prose . . .100 MINIATURES—online gallery
Each miniature is a kind of meditation on one idea & one image;
Each lasts 30 seconds; They play in random order;
The music is my BOREA Mix,
for hand-played ePecussion Orchestra.
[ mouse over for controls / lower right fro full-screen ]
All Photographs & texts by Cliff Crego © 1999-2015 picture-poems.com