The next action packed episode of my column:
Technology Must Die
I have to confess that my last article was not completely honest. There was an important element that I left out. Last week I wrote that the central theme of myth is of resurrection. Myths, which are stories that transcend our selves to communicate deep and universal truth, always come back around to the issue of resurrection. This includes the myths of religion, literature, film, folklore, and even technology. Well, I'd like to think technology.
The essential truth of the myth of resurrection is made of three parts: death, liminality, and rebirth. Technology is extremely good at rebirth. How else would else would our generation have access to the glories of Howdy Doody from $1 DVDs at the supermarket? A 1300 year old Qur'an was found recently and technology played an integral role.
The problem with technology and resurrection is that before resurrection, there must be death. Am I going too fast? Moses could never have become Isreal's leader without first "dying" to his citizenship as an Egyptian. Luke Skywalker could not become a Jedi without the death of his legal guardians and "dying" to his home planet. For a greater good to come, something significant must occur that signals and enforces leaving the old lesser good (or downright bad) behind. This symbolizes the critical need to clear space in our soul where something new can grow or be inserted. There is simply not enough room in the human psyche - something has to go.
The step after death is illuminality - the period of time where that empty space is cleaned and purified. Like a garden, the soil is churned and given fresh nutrients. Buddhists in an area of China will send their children to the monastery for several days during a rite of passage - their first away from their parents. At that time they are not addressed by their real names and their heads are shaved. Also this shows the cleansing of the old self. Christians will recognize this theme in conversion: dying to self and to sin to prepare room for the Holy Spirit "fill our hearts."
Now think to technology. Technology fulfills the the resurrection process of others, but lacks any death of its own. Technology is one of those rare places that focuses on bringing news things. Constantly. "Nothing new under the sun" applies less to technology than anything. Technology focuses on the new; exploring new places; inventing new mechanisms; dreaming new ideas. It wouldn't be technology if it didn't. It only fits then, that it's out with the old, in with the new. That broken car and outdated computer are not admired. The Amish who reject motors for animals are considered anti-technology. With the exception of a few artists turning old junk into art,
If we want to embrace the digital age lifestyle, we must learn to accept and utilize death. Or perhaps technology will mature to learn to value the death and rebirth, not only regular life. Until one of those happens, we'll have to approach our new culture with caution. And those timeless methods of resurrection will need to be heeded in greater measure.