Last Friday, I moved from a somewhat distant 'then' to a point approximating 'now.' My family engineered, and I mean that almost literally, an upgrade from a computer I have used very nearly every hour of every day since late February 2005 with (I think) an Intel II processor and Windows XP (I write all of that like I know what it means; I don't) for whatever the latest and spiffiest PC is, with a Windows 7 operating system because I'm way too ham-handed and fat-fingered for the touch screen heroics of Windows 8.
I'm thrilled with the speed and the robustness of the platform. If experience is any guide in a month however I'll be sighing about how slow it is, because that's who I am. I'm not Miniver Cheevy but I'm probably related to Richard Cory. I can remember junior year at Rutgers college scrambling for punch cards for upper level courses needed for my degree as the school, part of the Federated University plan the regents of the State of New Jersey had created, went to 'computer registration' and we all ended up hostages of Univac.
The computer (singular definite article deliberate) took an entire wing of Voorhees Hall which was more or less hermetically sealed for its comfort and certainly nnot for the drones who punched the cards and collated the results all day long. I authored a paper on 'information retrieval services automating the broadcast news room' but no one, me included, ever thought it could or would happen as it came to pass. And now each of us with a smart phone has more computational power in the palm of our hand than all of NASA had when they put a man on the moon.
As it is on earth, some of us are not aiming for the stars but are looking for solutions to challenges that are blacker than the blackest night-the loneliness of the human condition. Disregard the title. It's crass and designed to stop you together with the visual long enough to read three paragraphs and decide if you wish to slog on. The idea that we are alone, together, is so ingrained we don't notice it's oxymoronic connotation. We've adjusted to our circumstances and have donned the face of the Stranger and if it's not Camus' Stranger, that's okay because we probably don't know it anyway.
The article offers a look into a world not unlike the one Bradbury foresaw in There Will Come Soft Rains but this time the absence of pain is joy, and the dearth and death of humanity is in a way, heaven. I found this account frightening perhaps because while I strive to have 'my space' I make sure to not stray too far from shore. And while I want to be left alone, I don't want to be too alone and truth to tell, neither do you.
I found this story ineffably sad because it's impressive the genius as a species we employ and deploy . to not be alone with ourselves, no matter how poor the alternatives. As inadequate and as incomplete as 'an encounter' with one of these personal pleasure towelettes could be or perhaps even is, there is no 'there' in any of this, no inside because every aspect of the transaction is all outside. By design.
What happens in being alone, together, in Love Plus, is actually a failure, drifting through a vast ocean of human(oids) who cannot see or celebrate their unity and union through the ocean surrounding and enveloping them but, rather who are frightened and fated to die in the splendid isolation from which to escape they invented this most perfect of alternative realities, except we've substituted circuitry for dreams and swapped out hearts for hard wire. Disposition, even; mood code, adjustable.