“As soon as optical and acoustical data can be put into some kind of media storage, people no longer need their memory.” Kittler, 110
I am about to get hypothetical here, I mean really far out, but see if you can follow me on this one. If we, and here I mean the royal we, were to construct a new medium of transportation – one with an internal combustion engine turning gears, a crankshaft, and ultimately a set of tires which reciprocate by dragging the entire chassis of the medium, along with its occupants, forward at a potentially incredible speed – would this result in the death of the old medium? Put simply, if we had what I will term here a car, would we no longer need to walk?
I will submit to you that we would still in fact walk around, we would not actually forget how to walk, but it would be a secondary walking, a walking thought of in terms of a car. How many hypothetical times have you been hypothetically walking places in the hypothetical future because you did not have a hypothetical car and thought to yourself, if I had a car, I would be there by now? The chances are good it would happen many times, unless you always had access to a car, in which case you would only walk to and from your car, or in places your car could not go, and then you would be even more beholden to the medium of the car, and lo, this would be bad.
This would be bad because in transitioning to this new medium I call the car, we would lose all the characteristics of society that predate the car. We have been primarily walkers ever since we have been human; perhaps even before. This walking has shaped our behavior, our cultural institutions, and our way of life, and losing our overwhelming and pathetic dependence on our limited powers of mobility will paradoxically limit our mobility, because without walking all the time we won’t quite know what to do with ourselves, since without walking we would no longer truly be human. Instead, we will become a part of the car, an auxiliary cog whose sole purpose is to start and drive the car, and the car will become the cultural warden of our new high-velocity prison of a culture.
Hear my words, locomotion studies majors, and tremble, for our hypothetical destructor is at hand!
Furthermore, in this bleak post-technologic future world of optical fiber networks, atom bombs and black US Army helicopters flying to and fro, blasting Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries over loudspeakers, there will be data storage, inexhaustible data storage, not just of words but of voices and pictures and hard-core triple xxx pornography. And because all this will be stored in something other than our brains, we will lose the ability to remember things, because rote memorization, which we have been doing since the dawn of time, is both inescapably human and totally dependent on there being no other ways to help us remember things. Instead, we will forget to remember things, we will forget what we’ve read or seen or heard because its stored somewhere else, and then we will forget where it is stored. After that, it will only be a matter of time until we forget we have stored anything at all! Soon we will forget how to speak, to write, to read and to walk, because we are no longer using that which God has universally granted us in all the oral Creation myths that have recently been tape-recorded in Macedonia and subsequently filed away in data storage; namely, our memories and feet.
This process has already begun, for to return to my hypothetical car analogy, how many times in the car-filled future have you found yourself looking for your hypothetical set of car keys? You see? People never forgot where they put their car keys back when there were no cars, because they were always memorizing things and walking! How can I make this any clearer? Your infernal Volkswagens, iPods and gigabit ethernet connections will be the death of our society! Don’t you see? We have become Death, the destroyer of mediums! I saw a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor and survive!