Sex Death Apocalypse iPhone 4

There I was, calmly ogling Steve Jobs' shinyperfect new baby like a
junkie rabbit at a carrot factory in SaladTown, happily swooning over
its graceful industrial design and everstunned at the tiny slab's
explicit lickability and amazing capabilities.

How easy to get caught up in the sheer madhouse magic of it all,
the gyroscopes and voice activators, antennae and compasses, multiple
cameras and 5,000 sensors designed to recognize when you might be
hanging upside down from a banyan tree at midnight, suddenly needing to
shoot high-definition video of a wild giraffe stampede whilst checking
World Cup scores while live video-chatting with your wife in France
while pricing out a flight to Singapore while doing, um, 2,000 other
rather ridiculous things you could never have imagined in a million
years back on the day you were born.

And I'm thinking, sweet insanity of life, what
wonderful/nefarious creatures are we? How can we keep doing this
in the face of all that? How is it that we can keep creating such
beauty and cool wonder in the midst of meltdown and pain? What sort of
desperate dance is this? Are we spinning faster and faster toward doom?
Ecstasy? Both? Are they really the same thing? Aha.

I like cars. Particularly small European cars, particularly
German ones, particularly those that are tight and refined and
engineered like God's own Panerai, and in this personal
fetish/incarnation I hungrily observe every new development in their
technology, their engines, their design and capabilities and cockpits,
especially all the astonishing concept cars that roll forth, how they
keep getting better and weirder and wilder and usually somehow more
gorgeous and fascinating, mostly.

Yet at the selfsame moment, as the best of the world's automotive
tech evolves to new heights of power and sex, poetry and movement, the
BP spill and global warming, Alberta's oilsands and various
soul-crushing eco-disasters of the world scream louder and louder: Here
is your price. Here is your deeper meaning. Are you sure you still like

It's as though the further we push the edges of industrial beauty
and refinement, invention and creation, the deeper we dive straight
into hell, like a master chef creating the most delicious dish ever
invented, using the last wild tuna on earth. Can this really be true? Is
this our doomed equation?

I also like architecture. Modern, sleek, warm and open. I scan
design blogs and sigh dreamily at countless mind-blowing heart-expanding
creations all over the world, soaring spaces of light and wood, glass
and steel; I'm ever incredulous at the artistry and technology of home
building, the fit and finish, form and function, the extraordinary human
ability to carve out space of every size and dimension, along with our
remarkable power to bend the most reluctant materials of the world to
our imaginative will.

And I think, how can this be? How can we steal such exquisiteness
from empty space? Have these people not seen the slums in Mumbai? The
homeless and their filthy shopping carts? How can we build such
beguiling poetry and simplicity when a billion people have no plumbing?
In short: How can the same weird little human creature contain such
extremes? And are these extremes not getting ... extremer?

I get a little lost in the raging dichotomies, you might say. On
the one hand, aswim like drunken angels in this, the wealthiest nation
in the world, it becomes weirdly tempting to believe that much of what
we are creating -- not merely iPhones and Audis, but by extension modes
of living, connecting, moving through -- is getting better, easier, more
highly designed, efficient and enjoyable.

Astonishing evolution is happening at astonishing speed, solar
panels in your hand and a million songs in the space of a postage stamp,
instant access to satellites delivering you information on the distance
to the next coffee shop, your heart rate, your favorite entertainments,
your friends and sincerest loves and a live videostream of your child's
smiling face a thousand miles away.

There are moments when it becomes dangerously tempting to think:
We're close, right? Surely with all this power and ease, we must have
the major problems of the world almost licked? Energy, food production,
pollution, disease? Look at all those insane inventions, all the
brainiacs at work at MIT, the best and brightest tackling the toughest
problems of the galaxy.

Any minute now, solar power and French fry grease, nanotechnology
and organic microlending neurobiological hemp-powered oil-eating magic
bacteria will take over and make it all better. Right?

And you slap yourself awake. You stab yourself in the soul with
an ice pick of Now. And you remember.

We are nowhere near close. It takes no effort at all to flip the
lens, to walk the street in fear, to observe, say, all the blood pouring
through the streets of Mexico, the violent corruption in Africa, the
drug-related shootings just down the street, the raging poverty and
sickness, the wall of black death we have just unleashed into the ocean.

Which side is piling up faster, the beauties or the horrors? The
refinements and miraculous advancements, or the massacres and planetary
maulings? We've always existed in a constant flux of dualities and
dichotomies, contrasts, pushpulls. This is nothing new. You could argue
that it's within that frictive space that life happens. We contain
multitudes, right? Either that, or it creates a chasm so vast and wide,
we all eventually fall in and drown.

I try to piece it together. I try to remember what the wise ones
and the ancients, the soul-seekers and Tantrikas tell us. The Source is
always the same. The dark and the light coexist. The beauty and doom,
the progress and the devastation, they only seem a million ideological
light years apart; they are, in fact, co-creations, siblings, two faces
of the same god.

Drill it down: The new iPhone, sultry and tactile tech marvel
that it is, is born of the same forces as the BP spill. The slums and
refined spaces, the sophisticated cars and breathtaking homes, the rage
and the decay, all of the same divine floodstream. How can this be? It's
both mandatory to remember, and nearly impossible to comprehend.

So what the hell do you do? You choose as best you can within
that whipsaw spectrum, tread as lightly as you know how, celebrate the
wild ride, perhaps try not to undermine every slice of newborn beauty by
shuddering in paralyzing horror at the dark demons swimming just
underneath. Simple, really. Now who wants an iPhone?

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