Having just seen the movie “The Judge” with Robert Duvall and Robert Downey Jr., the mariner felt more like Robert Duvall than Robert Downey, Jr. In other words, he felt old. Like Robert Duvall, the frontal lobes were intact and contained a lifelong establishment of reason, morality and a command of human behavior. Still, the body was finished; the brain confused by drugs and memory lapses. The shower scene “done me in,” as a Broadway play once complained; it was the last straw – the mariner, too, had outlasted his biological lifespan.
To make matters worse, the mariner came home to read a frightful edition of Smithsonian, describing the bright ideas that will shape the future. The mariner has always considered he was an agent of change. Indeed, his career was just that, bringing large corporations into new worlds of automated business management.
But technology has caught up and passed him by. Not so much the technical engineering but the changes in what human beings will be subject to in a world where reality and automated fantasy are combined in a smudged and inseparable pseudo-reality. One article in the magazine claimed to implant false history in a mouse brain. The mouse believed it had been severely shocked while standing on a steel plate. Placed in a box with an easy way to escape, the mouse stood frozen in fear that it would be shocked and would not move toward the exit. Yet the mouse actually had never received such a shock.
Translate this ability to alter reality to humans. The claim is a cure for Alzheimer’s, dementia, psychological disorders and other ailments of modern life. If one is paranoid of government and corporate prerogatives, one can see manipulation driven by foolish laws and corporate procedures – a capability that can be used for cure or curse.
In any case, one’s knowledge of one’s self may not be real. One’s history that has built an identity of self may be artificial – the self being lost among artificial memories and erased traumas and confrontations that make us who we are.
The mariner longs for that sailboat that will take him away from the modern world and travel among the shores of places that still are behind the technological curve – where real is real.
There are two concepts that dominate international culture today: We do it because we can – and the individual is not the solution. This mixture reminds the mariner of the early industrial age, where human rights were trampled in the name of progress.
Inept governments around the world are not interested in protecting human rights. Profits account for much more than personal freedoms.
Change is always traumatic as new processes displace old ones. The world will change under our feet even as we try to stand upon solid ground.
In the movie, Robert Duvall passed away due to advanced cancer. One could not help but share his release.