Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Monday, 11 February 2013

We Have the Technology


Radar scanner near Chesapeake Beach, Annapolis, Maryland: photo by Dick Swanson, August 1973 for the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA Project (U.S. National Archives)

Hiding from phantasms: the new American Way
Of Anxiety.  Manufacturing fear, perhaps our Most
Important Product, now that GE no longer makes
Those problematic reactors. Or do they?
Would we know, either way? Mere links in the chain
That contains us, as we are. We can see the enemy

Coming from a great distance, and kill him, or
At least hope it's him we've killed -- does it really matter
As long as the technology gets a workout
And we can walk away with no blood on our
Latex surgical gloves? We can change them
Every hour of every day. We'll feel a lot safer that way.

Or then again maybe we won't. And maybe the target
Of opportunity will turn out to have been our --
Yegads -- friend.  But can we really afford to have
Friends without compromising our security?
And what if there was an error in the scan,
What then? Maybe we won't know what we've got

Coming to us until it pulls up silently at the door
In the dead of night, and we awaken in a cold sweat
And check to make sure everything's locked
Up tight. But what if our locks don't hold? And when we hear
It creeping up the stairs, can we be sure
The automatic guidance systems have kicked in

As advertised? And what if the lack of a human
Pilot's cockpit vision should prove critical?
Are our eyes like the eyes of Laura Mars?
Can it really be that every living thing
Upon which we train our technological
Gaze then dies? That would seem a bit unfair.

And we're basically decent people. So don't stare too hard.


One sheet poster for Italian release of the film Eyes of Laura Mars (1978): image by D68 art+design, 20 April 2012


HiMAT Remotely Piloted Aircraft Synthetic Vision Display. This is a synthetic out-the cockpit-window 3D perspective view created using a visual display. The object in the foreground is a 3D model of the HiMAT nose probe, and in the distance we see terrain and a runway. From Shahan Sarrafian, NASA: "Simulator Evaluation of a Remotely Piloted Vehicle Lateral Landing Task Using a Visual Display", NASA Technical Memorandum 85903: image by ISoar, 5 February, 2008 (NASA)

 Eyes of Laura Mars: image by Brian Howell, 19 October 2009


BDR said...

Thanks for putting Pere Ubu song in my head!

TC said...

We Have the Technology

TC said...

We said that at the same time... If we were the Good Humor Man we could take that moment and freeze it.

Hazen said...

A synthetic vision seems about all the vision we got left: an ominous all-seeing eye and a nowhere heart. (That first photo sets the mood). Paranoia is an easy sell nowadays. Like children, we love to scare ourselves. It’s a growth industry, and that’s what counts.

This is fine and strong.

TC said...

There are so many questions here. Such as:

If I already have my cake, why do I put it in a barrel?

Shooting Fish in a Barrel, Why Is It That? (5:44 a.m.)

Nora said...

I came to leave a comment, then clicked on that Shooting Fish in Barrel link and now I can't even remember my own name.

TC said...

Flula, our answer to drones!

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

What's that? Did someone say paranoia strikes deep?

Delia Psyche said...

I watched The Eyes of Laura Mars last night! What a coincidence.

The Italians might've liked it; it's rather a giallo. Like Dario Argento with less gore.

TC said...

David, they did like it; in a way, you might say it was made for them.

Just think, though, the lead role was meant for... yes... Barbra Streisand!

Delia Psyche said...

Streisand! That would've been unfortunate casting. I mean, she was fine for something like What's Up, Doc?, but Faye Dunaway--the way she hearkens back to stately, statuesque starlets of black-and-white days--is so much better for Laura Mars. I remember her roiling my hormones when I was watching Puzzle of a Downfall Child on TV. I was about 12. I've always liked her.

TC said...


The producer of this somewhat flimsy vehicle, Jon Peters, was "dating" Streisand, which caused him to buy John Carpenter's spec script, with the idea Streisand would play the lead. But she adjudged the script a bit too kinky, it seems, so the role went to Dunaway. (For better or worse.) But Streisand liked the torch song from the film, "Prisoner", which she considered a good fit for her power-ballad chops (would one call them that?)

Others have suggested different musical approaches. But... I don't know. Still a bit of a sow's ear problem, for me.

TC said...

Nonetheless, good to have a chance to (speaking of drones!) Shoot the Sh#t about it.

Not that they'll be sending any of those spooky robot birds OUR way, of course...

(But hey -- what's that strange whirring sound?)