Thursday, July 30, 2009

Invention Is The Mother Of Necessity

Those of us raised on old studio movies know that Don Ameche invented the telephone a year before Spencer Tracy worked through the night to come up with the light bulb which he may or may not have put to his ear and said, “Hello.” He was exhausted, of course, and the world was waiting to be electrified.

We learned from movies the basics of life. Namely, that most everyone wore tuxedos, all navy men were great dancers, babies came from towels and hot water and a cough meant certain tuberculosis curable only by a Viennese doctor who had developed a new procedure.

New discoveries happened to meet a crisis. Columbus was sent out for some Chinese food and returned with a continent for Izzy and Ferd. Now Columbus, disguised as Bill Gates has returned with his cargo of information. The world is still round but it just got smaller.

Those of us caught on the super highway with a typewriter and nothing cordless have been denounced for resisting the new orthodoxy. We’ve been put to the rack where every Luddite bone in our bodies has been deleted.

Who’s your mother? Not necessity; it’s invention, itself. Build it and they will buy it, so it seems. Ever since the answering machine I‘ve asked myself whether this or that will make my life more meaningful, or dimensional, or help get me through the night.

Now I’m making room for all the new "essentials of life" I’m told I must own to keep up. I’m dropping my old baggage, Archimedes Principle and Pi. There goes Newton’s Law. My spelling is an approximation and the multiplication table is exhausted. I’ve been purged of all things retro and confessed to thinking in syllogisms. Like a plane circling the ocean might jettison fuel to lighten its landing I am dumping theorems like bricks. All that’s left of me is my pin number and a few sentences from the Gettysburg Address.

Without understanding how anything works I am taking my place at the threshold, learning the new speak as a second language and clicking on the latest breakthrough without which tomorrow is unthinkable.

1 comment:

  1. Made me ponder and made me laugh as most of your "poems" are wont to do. Reminded me also of your "Endings" and "At a theater Near You." Only more so.