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Back in the sixties when artists were inventing the future, referred to by the art intelligensia as the avant garde and thought of by the population at large as “them bloody hippies”, there was no idea that everything would be dehumanized by useless technology deprived of human qualities, personality and dignity. Although if it had been remembered correctly the world was warned of this possible future by the German philosopher Karl Marx:

The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his ‘natural superiors,’ and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, callous ‘cash payment.’ It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.
Karl Marx [Born May 5th, 1818 – Trier Germany, Died March 14th, 1883 – London England]

A certain portion of the population trundled blindly on into the Land of Babbelon, laughingly called social media and controlled by the evil overlord Mark Zuckerberg. These idiotic devices utilized by the simple-minded unable to gather in groups to involve themselves in personal conversation. Directed along its profit-making pathway, bordering on an uncritical obsessive enthusiasm for their own ilk.

The Four Billionaires of the Apocalypse – Musk, Bezos, Maezawa and Branson – are intent on flying to the moon, escaping planet earth and abandoning us. In the meantime buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive the societal collapse they’ve helped create; but like everything they do, it has unintended consequences.

If social media had taken a positive route, the information not utilised as fodder for the conspiracy theorists blathering to all who would listen, the anti-vaxxers happy to save themselves and pass along the virus to anyone close enough, lies about cell tower fires, death rays emitting from hydro meters, 5G Cellular Networks, almost anything that would be useful to people isolated on small islands away from mainstream information. It in itself unreliable enough. But instead, as some already do, pass out information of cultural events, help the needy with charitable acts or the elderly and ill with access to medical assistance, even what the weather might be on Tuesday… what a useful medium it would be.

There is no advantage to looking backwards, back to the time which many old-timers proclaim as the good old days, that on investigation turn out simply to have a different set of challenges, both positive and negative. Eloise at her dinner parties insisted the conversation be away from used-to-be, the constant and sometimes boring conversations about how it was better in the past. So what of our future? Having lived a long life there is much to linger on, sometimes difficult to bring into focus in a cluttered mind. The future is unknown, though positive actions and a certain reliability on hopefulness is useful. So that just leaves the now.

It has been a difficult three years, especially for seniors isolated even more than usual. Confined is a word that jumps forward. After a while wearing a mask becomes uncomfortable particularly for extended periods, with eye-glasses becoming fogged up and most annoying being disguised and unable to recognize each other. But, and there is always a but, everyone was informed by the medical authorities it was the correct procedure. That and staying six feet apart so the sprayed germs escaping from mouths could not reach the innocent. And so we all did, or most of those intimate enough to be in the same room. No one suspect was invited inside and only the most trustworthy on to the porch. Never sharing anything apart from chat, which mostly centred around the pandemic. Who had it. Who had died. Who travelled. Who was attending the meetings of vaccine deniers who were causing so much paranoia. Such a surprise when one found out they were intelligent folk in most other ways, people one had respected, even admired. Gone off the rails. As the saying goes.

So what is the future for the elderly? For one, a nice walk, perhaps with a cane if necessary or even a walker as long as one goes slow. And reading, not the stupid iPads or tablets but a good book taken from the public library so the writers can claim royalties, and the physical action of turning the pages discovering words not previously remembered, looked up in the Oxford Dictionary. Right now I’m reading Julian Barnes short stories [Pulse], the current story about a group of friends hanging about after a dinner party, a bottle of good wine still on the go and the subject rambling from one to another as the original point is lost. Creative thinking it be called. Maybe. Or perhaps it’s random memory problems, like walking from one room to the next trying to remember why. Not even qualifying as multi-tasking. Where did that function, if he ever had it, go.

Babbelon was recorded on the morning that this story began. My budget-priced Fender FA-15 3/4 steel string guitar is finished as Moonlight Burst. The music was captured with a Shure C- 606 microphone, utliising Audacity on my ancient Mac Maverick computer. Hence the gorgeous vulgar quality.

End Notes:
This story, in a slightly edited form, appeared previously in The Hornby Island First Edition.

The three illustrations have been illegally downloaded from the web.

I can be reached for comment at: classicimprov@yahoo.ca