Thompson, William Irwin, The American Replacement Of Nature
New York, 1991
Pages 68, 133-4
We will have this polity of mediocracy in which imagineers manipulate images for the electropeasantry as long as we have television as our dominant form of communication. It will do no good to try to create some new Amish Lancaster County in which there is no TV, for that quaint space will only become yet another movie set of heritage and tradition in the midst of the vast electronic polity. It will only be when television is superseded by some new technology of communication, just as television superseded print, that we will have a new noetic polity created by the new means of communication. When that happens, humanity will probably look back upon the age of television as a dark age....
If light can be both wave and particle, so can humanity, for it seems to me that the mankind of hominid males also contains two profoundly true but opposed human beings, and that each comes equipped with its own light and shadow. One is immanental, and sees divinity within the pattern of connectiveness of Earth, animals, and women. The other is transcendental and sees Earth, animals, and women as an imprisonment of spirit and cosmic mind. One wants in, the other wants out. One is a wave which, because of its own infolded order, feels itself to be in resonance with everything. The other is a particle, which because of its limited self-definition feels alienated and alone and wishes to have power over the others that impinge on its self-inflicted boundaries. For the sake of a working distinction, let’s call these two types of human males the poet and the engineer.
The poet loves ambiguity, complexity, and the lingual, erotic play with words; the engineer loves logic, manual systems of control, and computational machine codes of one meaning only. The poet loves to hang out with women, to listen to them, sleep with them, smell them, taste them, and all without benefit of chemical additives of deodorants, perfumes, mouthwashes, and feminine hygiene douches. The engineer locks onto object fixation and stimulating fetishes; a perfume or a sexy costume can trigger his response, but his excitement is as evanescent as it is artificial, for no sooner is he hydraulically relieved of the pressure to ejaculate than he begins to feel the need of getting back to work with his fellows, be they in the lab, the office, the pub, the gang, or the country club.
The poet likes things that are slow, contemplative, rich, dark, complex, soft, wet, and moving. The engineer likes things that are hard, fixed, and gleamingly stainless-steel bright. Where do these two different systems of erotic fascination come from? From toilet training? Or even earlier with hospital births in which the entire institutional power of the hospital descends on the infant to scrub him with chemicals and package him in detergent-smelling fabrics so that he can be encased in glass and steel and set in a wheeled vehicle that is moving away from that vulva, a vulva that is not seen as a Georgia O’Keeffe flower but a wet and repulsive female mess from which he may have emerged but now distance himself with as much technology as possible? In a technologically assisted birth, we are brought forth by scalpel and forceps and, perhaps, learn to bond at once with these tools of bright and stainless steel. In a natural birth, we are massaged into life by a vagina and are awakened to consciousness by lips moving across our face and sliding down the length of our entire body.