Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dystopian tales

laser: you utopia my dystopia

Trigger tales.

“That is what you have to do before you kill, I thought. You have to create an it, where none was before. ” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

He's hunched over, body taut, automatic weapon loaded, trigger taught, ready to shoot on sight.

Blood splatters across the wall as his victim crumples under the impact of the bullets.

Another kill is notched up.

I can hear my son upstairs, whooping with joy.

Subversive tales.

“By telling you anything at all I'm at least believing in you, believe you're there, I believe you into being. Because I'm telling you this story I will your existence. I tell, therefore you are. So I will go on. So I will myself to go on.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

"So what do you do then?" I ask them.

One, apparently the senior academic, chortles.

He nods his head to a silent partner across the table.

"So what do you do then?" he echoes.

"Subversive...huh? You have a lot in common with him." he adds.

His colleague, head down, speaks.

It's hardly more than a whisper.

"Well, there's a parallel system. If I like the guy and I want to help him out then I send a copy of my article freely."

Conversations flow naturally from academic pay walls, to walled gardens of VLE's,  to Berlin wall, to Trump wall, to Pink Floyd's Wall.

Surveillance tales.

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Here we are around the lunch table, talking of freedom to connect across frontiers, internet, social media, open education, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, the Wild West East of capitalism, the rise of individualism, the threat to community, the greed, the misery, the miserlyness, the lack of care.

A guy from the STASI listening through walls to the lives of others.

A guy from Facebook collecting data on the interests, the emotions, the friendships, the movements, of others.

Tribal tales.

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Here we were, separated by a generation and a computer screen, talking of our (dis)connected lives. Listening to him, I felt both ignorant, and lacking in imagination.

Who was the researcher, who was the teacher, who was the learner, who was the mentor?

He talked of the differences between playing online solo, online in network, offline together, together.

Am I missing something there?

Who will be having to revise the lesson?

He talked of heroes, leaders, tribes, communities, affinity groups, generations, clans, castes, crowds, students, teachers.

He talked of roller, skate, scooter, bmx.

Conflicts over wax on rails.

Invasions of space.

Am I missing something there?

Who will be having to revise the lesson?

Measured tales.

“Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

She looked tired, she sounded downbeat.

Their ship had been swept away in the flood.

“I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Some guys had jumped ship.

Entire departments around the country had been wiped out.

Health services were up for sale to the highest bidder.

Cost cutting measures were on the agenda.

Debt schemes are being leveraged.

Wave after wave of management schemes had been sent to try the staff, to size them up, to cut numbers down to size.

Those in power lie as they breathe.

They have no care for care.

It's an economy measure.

Spreadsheets, efficiency, customer satisfaction.

Best practice no doubt.

"I feel no motivation whatever to work so that they can swan off around the world and be seen with the great and good."  

She said, to my unreliable memory.

Hand made tales.

“All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn't be that hard.” 

"I almost left." He said, remembering those first months.

He wasn't to be bought.

He paid the price.

He almost left.

"I made you what are." came a thinly veiled  threat.

"You owe it all to me."  added the addition.


Was there fear of power waning?

He stuck at it.

He learnt to navigate.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Dystopian tales

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

She shared her pain. 

She revealed the abuse.

She warned of vicious troll attacks.

Those words, those threats had cut deep.

She was vulnerable there in the open.

He talked of the joy of spreading fake rumours across the net.

"It's part of our culture, they've picked up on it."  he said.

How far, how fast will this fakery flow?

How much will it make a buzz?

Pooh Sticks. 

Broom Sticks.

Fidget Spinners.

Where the wild things go...

Sticks and stones may break our bones.

Words may forever mark us.

Does adolescence seems so far away?

I looked through the DVDs.

  • Maze Runner.
  • Hunger Games
  • Harry Potter
  • Divergent.
  • Matrix.
  • Inception.
We were on air. 

Virtually connecting, we were massive.


"We are the good guys," he said, " The Jedi."

They were tiny specks on the stage.

Off air marked the exit.

"I am your father."

Does obsolescence seems so close?

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Image Credit

Laser: Your Utopia My Dsytopia.

Eddie Dangerous

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