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Wednesday 28 January 2015



This guy turned his #Home into a #Crazy #PlasticBall #Prank: image via Joe Pardo @Dreamerspodcast, 23 January 2015

It's a beautiful brave new world over and over Apple sold 74.6 million copies of iPhone 6 in the last quarter and
If you've ever wondered where all that plastic crap goes when it's through using you
Never forget it's always continuing to do good stuff even though you may not know quite what that is exactly

Asylum, New York. Plastic play balls line the corridor of a psychiatric hospital: photo by Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix. from States of Decay (Carpet Bombing Culture, 2013): image via The Guardian, 17 July 2013


You approach me carrying a book
The instructions you read carry me back beyond birth
To childhood and a courtyard bouncing a ball
The town is silent there is only one recreation
It’s throwing the ball against the wall and waiting
To see if it returns
One day
The wall reverses
The ball bounces the other way
Across this barrier into the future
Where it begets occupations names
This is known as the human heart a muscle
A woman adopts it it enters her chest
She falls from a train
The woman rebounds 500 miles back to her childhood
The heart falls from her clothing you retrieve it
Turn it over in your hand the trademark
Gives the name of a noted maker of balls

Elastic flexible yes but this is awful
You say
Her body is limp not plastic
Your heart is missing from it
You replace your heart in your breast and go on your way

TC: Superballs, from The Sand Burg (Ferry Press), 1966

Manila, Philippines. Children walking beside a river filled with rubbish in the capital: photo by Noel Celis/AFP via The Guardian, 27 January 2015

Crowds outside the Apple store on Regent Street in central London on iPhone 6 release day: photo by Michael Tubi/Demotix/Corbis via The Guardian, 22 September 2014

Andreas Gibson celebrates with employees outside the Fifth Avenue Apple store after being the first to exit with an iPhone 6 in hand on the first day of sales in Manhattan, New York
: photo by Adrees Latif/Reuters via The Guardian, 22 September 2014


TC said...

There was theory a while back that you simply could not ever have too many plastic balls.

That theory was tested, covertly (naturellement), in the guise of an advert for flatscreens, by a desperately
unsuccessful competitor
in the smartphone sweepstakes.

The flatscreens turned out to be okay, but you can't implant them into your entire existential program with anything like the same ease as you can a bendable but not breakable magic personalized yet of course always wonderfully impersonal when the bills come in smartphone, which can control you totally, at every waking moment, and keep all the appropriate spy and snoop and snitch agencies updated every time you perform a neurological or biological function -- in, of course, a good way.

The deal in the vending plastic crap to programmed humanoids racket turns out to be, it's not how many balls you've got, or whether or not or how well they might bounce, but how big they are, and, oh no, what they're made of.

It's as simple as the ABCs, really.

billoo said...

‘How many people ruin themselves by laying out money on trinkets of frivolous utility? What pleases these lovers of toys is not so much the utility, as the aptness of the machines which are fitted to promote it. All their pockets are stuffed with little conveniences. They contrive new pockets, unknown in the clothes of other people, in order to carry a greater number. They walk about loaded with a multitude of baubles… some of which may sometimes be of some little use, but all of which might at all times be very well spared, and of which the whole utility is certainly not worth the fatigue of bearing the burden.’

Adam Smith.

TC said...

(By the by, about that cute Sony advert, in case by some odd chance you've taken a gander -- every time I look at it I try to excuse my shame in watching an innocent small frog, key player/victim in the Sixth Extinction, get flushed down a drainpipe by ten million bouncy balls on a San Francisco street, by saying to myself palliative things like "Well, no frog was actually harmed in the production of this video, probably," but it never works, this time less than ever -- that frog just does not look happy -- leave our last few rainforest creatures alone, Naked Imperial Army!!)

TC said...

Thanks, Billoo, apt indeed.

One supposes Adam Smith might have seen the uses of this particular modern day bauble, in fact he'd be just the clever sort who would -- but if informed that the bauble emitted all sort of mysterious waves that would pass through, in and out of the head of the user, and travel in and out and around in all directions to and from all sorts of strange unknown places, he might be a bit alarmed, and wonder just who was the user, in a larger sense, and who the used.

During a recent efflorescence of street protest marching here, I heard a radio guy, on the local Pacifica outlet, say that what with the pace of life and events these days, he rarely gets to share much up close time with his fellow activists -- but had, happily, just that day encountered a colleague and veteran of the marches.

"I ran into her at the Verizon store," he said. "She'd had her phone busted by the cops in the march, and was getting a new one.

"And so was I."

TC said...

The brilliant ensemble performance in the remarkable scene from Glengarry Glen Ross, culminating in Alec Baldwin's unforgettable sermon on Closure, is a wonder, and came back to me a few months ago when the Sony hack trash touched on the casting of the Steve Jobs biopic -- if only.

billoo said...

I love that..a breakdown in the system(s) since it reveals to us our dependence on machines and, when the light gets through the chink, just how far other, older ways of communicating and doing things have been crowded out by them.

TC said...

It's difficult to get back to old ways on new pavement, still what else is there to do but try. It is indeed good to talk here in the night like this, quite a bit less lonely. And I find any contact with animals helpful in more ways than one, especially if the animals are benefitting at all from it. We're nursing all these old sick cats 24 x 7. No device will contact them save touch, love, and of course that ultimate useful device, food.

My opinions on smartphones as is probably obvious are derived from minimal actual experience -- I've found lost ones here and here, either turned them in to somebody if possible or simply threw them away -- supplemented by considerable horrified observation (why would anybody want their brain stolen like that?), and more intuitive irrational fear than is perhaps sound, though still enough to cause me to conclude that even had I the money to throw away on such junk, I'd prefer to use it to feed animals.

TC said...

The director of Glengarry Glen Ross (that earlier link, the sermon on Closure) by the way, James Foley, the script, of course, David Mamet.

It's the five second slow take by Alan Arkin at c. 2:30 into the clip that encapsulates all the truth about all the Willie Lomans who ever lived... and died, if for a salesman there is much of a difference.

(My father was a failed salesman, RIP. I still have his sample case, somewhere, though it's impossible to look at it -- the awful American pathos of the life of the traveling salesman, the pathetic tawdry cheapjack products displayed...)

Hazen said...

As Thomas Wolfe might have said about these matters: “Lost, lost, lost . . .”

It’s not just the plastic crap that pollutes; it’s the rare metals too, from all the electronic whiz-bangs entering the world’s bloodstream in poisonous quantities. Waste management will become the defining career of consumerist civilization. Our motto: Too much of everything is still not enough.

Nora said...

This is almost completely beside the point, but here it goes anyway:

My dad (before he retired) worked in medical technology. One of the projects he worked on was an artificial heart.

When they were just starting human trials on the heart, the release forms were translated into various languages. My dad speaks German, so after the translations were done, someone handed him the German translation to look over, pretty much as an afterthought.

It all looked fine, until he came to the end. In English, it said something like, "Should you choose to leave the trial, we will not be held liable for any resulting complications."

In German, it said, "If you leave the trial, we will remove your heart and you will die."

Nora said...

Reading over my comment, I can't remember why I thought it was relevant to your post, except that you need to be careful with your heart I guess.

TC said...


When you think of the historical span of your lifetime and mine, and of all the wonderful technological innovations introduced in that same span of time, along with all the staggering ad campaigns devoted to causing people to understand that each of these innovations was designed to make life much faster, cheaper, easier, cleaner and safer for everyone, and of all the products people were then to purchase en masse in order to keep making the dream come true, year after year... it's not at all hard at this point to question whether any of that Progress did anything much more than convince the vast majority of people that they simply could not live without the gadgetry everybody else has (when of course the question ought to be, what hath all this gadgetry wrought) -- and, of course, ultimate bottom line, to vastly enrich the infinitesimal portion of the population that makes and sells and updates and sells and sells these products.

Have they made life or people or the world better? Not that I've noticed. Have they left life and people and the world with more and worse problems than have ever existed before? You betcha, as the gun totin', dog-steppin'-on Batty Belle of the Great White North might say.


To suggest that a heart implant and smartphone use might be related -- I don't find that strange at all.

Even within my own increasingly circumscribed sphere of operation, I've observed that a person who has misplaced her/his smartphone often dissolves into a trembling figure of total incapacity (a state I am able to recognise because I inhabit it perpetually, without ever having owned a smartphone).

Losing heart would be redundant at that stage.

My dear mother bless her heart would have shed a tear over your link. Everything connected with the bountiful mercy generated by the bleeding heart of Jesus -- for her, the meaning of life.

She never had to live in a world with smartphones.

The main concern here at present is the very sad state of one of our cats, a tiny 21 year old snow white female who's gamely held her own through all the wars of street and weather and is now suffering badly from a grotesque and disabling malady, heart-breaking, and, I'm afraid, likely smartphone-defying, even if we had one.

There are limits to all power -- including the imaginal power of the blood of Christ, and that of the smartphone.

Nora said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about the cat. Losing one of those delicate and graceful friends is hard, and I'd gladly trade my smart phone for the chance to do something about it.

TC said...

Thanks Nora, very sweet of you. She has been a particular friend, very independent yet very dear. She and her twin brother were abandoned decades ago when two elderly Russian brothers, who lived behind us, and who had been feeding them, died, one following the other in close order. The cats were then left to live wild in various difficult situations, as the years went by, before electing to move in here; the male, given to roaming, first; then his sister, loth to depart her original territory and so staying out on the street in all weathers, terrorized by dogs, taking refuge in oil slicks under parked cars etc., after many hard years of stubborn independence finally broke down and asked in out of the cold -- that is, what was left of her, tattered as an old rag, her beautiful, sweet-smelling, fine soft fur matted, ragged and disheveled. I doubt she weighed five pounds at that point.

A little love and care worked wonders, and she was a total delight, sweet, mischievous and funny, and surprisingly able to hold her own against the large and intelligent house bully cat -- who's equally dear to us but remains always obedient to his proper calling as possessor of the top spot in the household feline hierarchy -- for a number of further years.

After a half dozen awful vet ordeals with beloved cats who died anyway, we're now facing the fact that she'll need to be bundled off in a cardboard box and toted away a few miles down the street to undergo serious surgery, from which, in her fragile state, she is unlikely to recover.

At present she can't move without bad pain, which of course discourages movement, perforce.

All this of course being suffered stoically, as cats do -- until they get to the vet.