In the early1900’s not long before my great grandmother died, she
wrote a letter to her eleven children telling them to “live in their own
B.W. Powe’s ‘The Charge in the Global Membrane’ messages “Love
of the order of the world” (Weil). Powe also messages our
confusions, and anxiety about living in this time, ‘our time’. In part,
Powe is warning us that our unrestrained fixation with pixels, clicks,
lifespeed’s hypnosis, status quo and money, is feeding the rapidity of
(societal) change and global decline. He is also messaging about
hope in our time, in this time of escalating global unrest.
Could McLuhan, (Powe’s professor and subject of Powe’s writing)
have possessed any inkling about enviro-socio-political decline with
his words: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us?
There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew” wrote
McLuhan. It would appear to this writer that most of the crew has now
defected to the passenger section.McLuhan’s words have become prophetic in regards to the worst of
“our tools” and the worst of our driving technology. The crew on
spaceship earth have been scammed by the 1% who have amassed
obscene wealth, power and the membrane’s offerings. We are slowly
gobbling those offerings driven by overconsumption and the power of
the 1%. We are mesmerized with the aid of ETA, electro-tech
Powe’s words “The poetry of love between humans” embodies
optimism while he ponders the Twitter feed, a simplistic and perilous
conduit for complex issues. Powe’s macroscopic narrative examines
the potency of Twitter-bits that shadow Trump’s deception; that is,
Trump’s mastery of keeping us off-balance utilizing his weaponized
lies and fake news.
Powe informs us about bowing to the golden calf of contrivance
technology. His message exposes our psychological/spiritual
bewilderment generated by clicks and subversive algorithms. Alexa,
is anyone there with you? Within our political and monetized divides
Powe is ultimately warning us to be alert to the strategies of belief
and doubt created by those who want our minds, eg the Bannon
factor. “I see you but you can’t see me” (Harvard professor Shoshana
Zuboff, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”).
“Dumming down” = “Numbing down” as one steps further into Powe’s
prescient sensibility. “Conspiracy theories” are the mothers of fear
and abuse of power. We have no time to absorb, let alone process.
Stress disorders are a child of speed. “And if we could sit still; and if
we could unplug and breathe…We’d nourish our dreaming…” writes
Powe in his deep desire for relief and calm.
Powe’s concerns are honed in his thinking as both a visionary and a
parent of children who are (as my own child) destined to live in
acceleration where instant becomes slow. The newly designed
exascale supercomputer performs ‘a billion, billion calculations per
second…or 1 exaflop’. Faster than light particles lead us to darker
energy…but Powe lays bare his words “…love beyond the speed of
Attention spans have/are diminishing observes Powe. He wants us to
recognize that the ground we stand on is unstable because it keeps
changing. Little wonder Powe states that he is “writing in freefall”.
“The exoduses and pilgrimages that are physical and digital”…..
writes Powe. Does he infer we are leaving parts of the planet that are
becoming unlivable? “The rains aren’t coming anymore” but the salt
water is beginning to smother coastlines….we are on fire! Will digital
technology really help, or accelerate the mass movements of people
who can no longer live where they were born?
Powe invokes realities connected to our planetary decline. The
electric message in “hyper-speed” is hastening ‘the charge in the
global membrane’. The membrane containing the existence of plant,
animal, and humans on earth is threatened by heat, more fire, rising
seas and a disappearing water supply. How far can the membrane
stretch.. or is it already developing ‘pin holes’? “The Gaia (Greek for
Mother Earth) is convulsed” writes Powe.
Astronomers are telling us that the night sky filled with many
thousands of white-streaked satellites launched for high-speed
internet are so dazzling they are competing with the stars.
“Anxiety of loneliness is our deepest form of alienation” states Powe.
Millisecond media is a food for anxiety. Outdoor play, movement and
exercise for (especially) young people has been replaced by indoor
screens and pixels. Our heads and our bodies are falling out of
whack. “Everything seems to be closing in, seizing up” says Powe.
People see less of each other as our bloodless electronic devices
(social media) trumps face to face synergy….interaction.
“Gaia is lashing out in grief and pain” states Powe. Our fake
complacency (generated by fear) finds most our heads even deeper
in the sand.
Though Powe extends “Greetings, blessings and the approach of
hope”, the WMO (World Meteorological Organisation) presents a
grim picture of the accelerating physical signs and socio-economic
impacts of the climate change across the world. Mar 29, 2019)
Membrane serves up a warning about our decline that falls between
fear and our greed-creed for money: there is never enough. Our
money will not save us.
The Charge is superbly illustrated with provocative images of street
art captured in the photos of Marshall Soules. The images rebound
between Powe’s words of hope, caution, and the edgy images. The
Charge in the Global Membrane messes with traditional book design
mashing up fonts, typeface and visual space. The book’s overall
graphic appearance is a ‘visional wake-up’ in conjunction with Powe’s
provocative words which poke the membrane.
B.W. Powe’s ‘The Charge in the Global Membrane’ does contain a
passionate expression for hope, a “prayer for the hearts” in this age
of Surveillance Capitalism (Zuboff). The Charge suggests that
nihilism is not the best way to approach the world; optimism holds
Powe charges us with his innate (and poetic) optimism while warning
us that business as usual may exert enough pressure to rupture the
membrane. We believed that technology, trust in the electric pulse,
would save us, however are we even closer to an ‘Outage’?
Is “the poetry and love between humans and the universe” enough to
save us? Is hope ‘accepting the present reality?’