Wednesday, August 11, 2010
" 'DEATH' BY REPAIR: THE TECHNIATROGENIC DEMISE OF A HEALTHY DINUCRUD" by JEFF PHILLIPS
"Is it possible that almost all modern forms of external technology are ultimately destructive, and that the mental operating environments that make them possible are equally anti-thetical to life as we know her? That our most basic ideas, our most fundamental...and unquestioned...assumptions...what John Lilly called “meta-belief operators”...Judaeo-Christianity, capitalism, social Darwinism, the ‘scientific’ world-view, for example...about ‘life, the universe and everything’…are not ‘universal truths’ but actually species-specific hallucinations…That our biggest problem is our excellence at confusing our hallucinations with a ‘reality’ that is necessarily predicated on the existence and health of a biological world, and in which ‘man, the wise’ is not the ‘pinnacle of 'intelligence' he believes himself to be?”
“ 'Death' by Repair: The Techniatrogenic Demise of a Healthy Dinucrud”
or, “How my laptop was permanently disabled by an pseudo-'guru'...but my internal biological 'computer' is better than ever!”
MY ONE AND ONLY DINUCRUD
THE AGE OF 'TECHNIATROGENICS'
'DEATH BY REPAIR', or 'INCAPACITATION THROUGH DISASSEMBLY'
ENCOUNTERING THE 'EXPERT': CY BERNEDDICK or CY KODDICK?
WHAT ALL THIS MEANS
REFLECTIONS ON 'TECHNOLOGY'/A COSMIC BATTLE?
IN HONOUR OF LIFE AS WE KNOW HER
At the time of writing, this is a story unfinished and without closure. I can't tell you how it's going to end, not only because it's not over yet, but also because this story is an extremely relevant analogy to what is happening with humanity and our juggernauts of external technology and industrial civilization...another story that's not over yet...but soon might be! The metaphors are rich, the meanings are obscure, the outcomes uncertain, even mysterious. And very interesting that this whole thing is unfolding as the nightmare in the Gulf of Mexico continues to deepen, with its ominous portents concerning ‘fossil’-fuels, technological civilization, and life as we know her.
Electronic devices called “computers” are almost as ubiquitous as tv's these days, yet few people know what the word actually means. Computare is a Latin word meaning “to think or reflect upon.” In common parlance, “compute” has come to mean “numerical calculation” but etymologically, a “computer” is something that thinks or reflects. These are abilities possessed not only by “true” humans, but by all sentient beings; as for “people” today...well, this is not the place to digress on whether or not “people” of today think or reflect, but read on to get some insight into my experience with “computer people.” It's not a pretty story, almost an oxymoron, and etymologically inaccurate.
To anyone with at least a few nano-bytes of valid scientific knowledge, it's clear that “thinking” and “reflecting” are processes engaged in by living beings with minds and self-awareness, which “people”, traditionally speaking, are or were. The electronic devices we call “computers” neither think nor reflect...no, not even HAL, SAL, P-1 or any of the real-world devices that exist today. No matter how fast they are, how much parallel processing they can do, how much memory they have, or how much electricity they use, no electronic device “thinks” or “reflects.” They can be programmed to simulate thought or reflection, but this whole process is just a limited projection of a very narrow bandwidth of human abilities into a digital number-crunching device. “Computers” only do what we tell them to do, what we “program” them to do. They all necessarily “march” to the “Al Gore Rhythm”, in that they are only able to obey without question orders from a higher level of decision-making! They are extremely good at processing vast amounts of data, yet they have no self-awareness, no creativity, no initiative, no “life.” They have to be plugged into a power source; they are not “alive.” This is why my name for what is commonly called the “computer” is the dinucrud, an acronym for “digital number-crunching device.” It has a nice ring to it, suggestive of dinosaurs and oily dirt that collects in machine crevices or that might be scraped from propellers or dead dolphin flukes in the Gulf of Mexico.
Speaking of dinosaurs, who have become almost synonymous with “extinction” in the popular imagination, due not only to the “terrific” (root, “terror”) natures we attribute to them, but also to their apparent “sudden” and global demise, as if in our minds, we believe that “the universe got 'em 'cause they were so bad”...speaking of dinosaurs, our beliefs about them are really just projections onto beings long ago and far away, known only through fossil remains, of our largely unconscious beliefs about ourselves today. If we are out to destroy ourselves, however, it's clear that “computers” are greatly assisting us. Some of our advanced technologies might exist without computers, but without them, these technologies could never have been developed and deployed on the planet-threatening scale we are witnessing today.
We hear a lot about death or destruction BY technology in today's world...this is pretty much the common theme in the vast majority of info-nutritive/real-world/alternative media: damage to human and non-human health, destruction of nature, war on the mind, eco-, geno- and ultimately sui-cide through the abuse of nuclear, chemical, pharmaceutical, electromagnetic, and genetic technologies. This isn't even counting our “jihad against nature” conducted through the daily summation of, for example, transportation, construction, resource extraction and waste production, nor the omni-malevolent “warfare” and “state-sponsored terrorism” conducted deliberately by the military forces of the world, overt and covert, a pathological economic “albatross” of incalculable monstrosity. Powerful myths persist of Atlantis, a civilization destroyed through or because of the abuse of advanced technology; astronomer Carl Sagan speculated that the reason we haven't detected any signals from an “extra-terrestrial civilization” using radio like ourselves is that there aren't any, that they all destroyed themselves when they were just about at the place where we are now...through the abuse of their most advanced technologies.
Death BY technology could be called the “theme of the age”; indeed, to some, that the true hidden purpose of what we call “technology” is in fact to replace and destroy life as we know it, in the disguises of “comfort”, “convenience”, and “security,” is not science-fiction. Death OF technology, however, is not often heard about. It's possible that “technological civilizations” may have internally-programmed “self-destruct” mechanisms; it looks like ours is working pretty well.
In the infotoxic/mainstream/corporate media we're far more likely to hear about the metastasis of technology, the glorification of the exponential explosion of previously undreamed-of forms, nano-bots and iBrains and smart-pods, “immortal synthetic organisms” and people who plan to “live forever” through merging with technology. Google “Ray Kurzweil”, the “transcendent man.” This asymptotically exploding shock-wave of new technologies is pushing the envelope of insanity, and is increasingly driven and made possible by, yes, the computer...the dinucrud...itself.
Actually, “death” presupposes “life,” and “technology” as commonly defined is not “alive.” As I will point out later, if we go back to its etymological roots, “technology”, therefore, in its true sense CAN be not only alive, but becomes integral or essential to what we are as human beings; life and living beings can be thought of as “bio-technology” but not in the sense of genetically-engineered corn that makes its own spermicide! For now, however, let's just say that “death” in this case is a metaphor for the cessation of function of a technological artifact.
MY ONE AND ONLY DINUCRUD
I never thought I'd find myself mourning the loss of a “computer”. As with most computer owners, there've been plenty of times when I felt like chucking the thing off a cliff! I really never was much of a “computer person.” Actually, I really was a “computer” person, just not a “dinucrud” person; I was into thinking and reflecting, but refused to have my own electronic number-cruncher. For many years friends kept telling me that I should get a computer; I resisted. For years people also asked me if some of my art-work, in particular, my more “high tech” looking styles, was done using a computer. I took pride in telling them that NO computers were used. I did everything the “old school” way: I painted with paint and took photos with film; I wrote with pen and paper and sent letters and post-cards to friends.
My first use of computers was to do word-processing, using them only as an advanced form of type-writer. I had actually taken a typing course in college, so I could crank out text at 40 or 50 words per minute (think that's fast...my mom could type at over 140 wpm's!) This actually put me a step ahead of many “computer people”, who might have acquired varying levels of technical knowledge, but they still had to punch in information using two fingers. I was able to use the computers at different colleges and universities I visited in my travels, often becoming friends with “computer people” who liked my art, introduced me to graphics programs (which I never liked!) and helped me with things like making designs for screen-printed t-shirts. I tended to think that people who “needed” a computer to do art weren't really artists at all; and a sort of quasi-mystical air pervaded the evolving compu-sphere, as if they could actually “do” stuff for you that you couldn't do yourself. “Computer...I'd like a painting, please. Could you have it ready by this afternoon?”
I began doing studio recordings of music in 1985 but at that point computers were newcomers for the wealthy and not even present in the studios I was using. By 1987, however, I was in southern California and got to experiment with some leading-edge computer technology. My friend Scott Levitin was working for Prosonus Studios and he let me come in and record a song on their brand new Synclavier, a state-of-the-art refrigerator-sized digital synthesizer; and my friend Carl Malone, who I'd met at an Emulator party at Michael Boddicker's studio in Hollywood, and who was himself working on interplanetary space probes at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and has since gone on to found CM Automation, invited me over for a jam using the new digital reverberation system he'd designed and built himself. I was somehow always able to use the most advanced gear but without having to own it myself.
Finally I journeyed to “computer land” when I first set up an email account in 1996. I was already extremely familiar with the “big brother” aspect of the computer revolution, and have always been highly distrustful of the “security” of and clandestine forces behind the internet. I continued to use computers for writing primarily, although to this day I continue to send hand-written letters, post cards and photo-copied documents, and on Flinders Island last year, where we lived essentially without electricity for 6 weeks, I hand-wrote over 80 pages. I eventually began to see the use-value of the internet as a research tool; but I never lost track of the vast superiority of the printed word for literary or information purposes. To me, the internet is a supplement to but not replacement for the library and telephone.
I could never say that I actually “liked” computers, although many of my friends raved about them. More and more people were turning into “computer people.” I remained skeptical and out-of-step with this transformation happening around me, even as a hydra of “IT” spread its silicon tentacles. As always, my emphasis remained on biological life as we know it, on nature and on what WE can do ourselves.
In 2001 my involvement with computers and the internet increased, not because all of a sudden the “future” was here, as prophesied by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and I was “getting with the program”; in 2001 I first learned of the attack on whales and dolphins by a technological system deployed by the U.S. Navy, the LFA (low-frequency active) Sonar, which beams out extremely powerful shock waves of sound underwater and damages the inner ear and even brains of whales and dolphins, often killing them.
Being a long-time friend of cetaceans, and aware of their central role as guardians of life as we know it on this planet, I saw the deployment of this weapons system as a direct attack on the most advanced beings on Earth; I took this as a very ominous sign of the level that the forces of evil were going to, and I went to “red alert” level with everything I was doing in my life. It was at this time that my networking on the internet really started. In the summer of 2001, I'd already been gone from America for over a year, but I knew that people in general were very suspicious of how Bush had been “installed” as president. The general word on the street was that “Bush = War.” It was all a bit distant and abstract to me; but this attack on the whales was a REAL war on “people” who mattered. Because of a “spiritual initiation event” that happened to me in Tasmania that July, and because I was already at “red alert” level due to the LFA-sonar deployment, 9/11 as a 'false-flag psy-op” hardly surprised me, and I amplified my networking in direct proportion to its enormity. I still didn't own a computer, but was using them a lot, and in February of 2002 I created my Yahoo group called “synthaissance”, now with over 1800 members and over 1000 postings.
I didn't really need my own computer at this point. I'd been a still photographer for over 30 years, and had been shooting video since 1997, but I shot film and could scan prints to email them; my approach to both media was “what I shoot is what they'll see”, so I tried to get it right from the beginning, not relying on “touch ups”, cropping, enhancement techniques or editing of any kind in order to share my footage or images with my friends.
Ultimately, my interest in film-making was what motivated me to get my own computer. I had never tried editing with analog video; whole process of “editing” as I understood it seemed too technical and artificial. I was already aware of a school of film-making called cinema verite; I was interested in recording images of things I saw, but that was enough. I could see the advantage, however, of “editing” out bits and pieces so that you didn't have to show people your raw footage in its entirety, but all the fancy-schmancy tricks and effects never interested me in the least. I knew that with a powerful laptop and the right programs I would have mobility in addition to the technical ability to digitize video and create films, not to mention doing my own multi-track recording and production of music. The problem then became one of finances, and the computer plan went onto the back-burner. I had no idea of when, if ever, I would somehow have the several thousand $ it would require. Only with the passing of my parents in a car accident in 2004 and my subsequent small but significant inheritance did I acquire my first and only computer.
A “computer person” friend in Adelaide offered to get a top-of-the-line Mac laptop for me. He knew that my main uses were going to be for audio-visual projects, so he highly recommended that I go Mac. I talked with several friends all of whom used computers. None of my friends with recording studios used Macs, but most people thought Macs were good, although possibly “over-rated.” I debated the “Mac versus 'pc' “ thing, but opted for Mac. He got it through his friend, so that we could get an academic discount; he was teaching computer graphics, too, so he installed a heap of programs for me to learn. I didn't really appreciate the extent of what he'd done until a few years later when a lot of these programs got “wiped” by a repair person.
THE AGE OF 'TECHNIATROGENICS'
I never thought of my trusty Macintosh G4 Powerbook as being “alive”, but it was a very valuable tool for doing a lot of different things. I got it brand new in 2005 when it was the state-of-the-art in commercial laptops; thanks to a heavy-duty metal case I got for it, it had been able to travel everywhere I've gone in recent years, safe and sound, even being checked as airline luggage, with no ill effects whatsoever; it was with us almost every kilometer we've hitch-hiked, too. It had been in the shop a few times, primarily to replace parts that wore out, like the monitor, keyboard, and dvd burner.
I used it for writing and information processing; photo processing, especially since getting a digital still camera two years ago; musical experiments (freaky stuff, I stick to real studios for real music as they have instruments...grand pianos, in particular, which are not easily transported while hitch-hiking...mikes and friends who know what they're doing better than me!); film-making (I had been digitizing video for years to burn to dvd; Liesbet has advanced know-how in video-editing so we've been able to make two films so far with many more in the works); and burning cd's and dvd's , which is probably the single greatest use to which I put my computer, and it performed fantastically, enabling us to share an immense amount of high-quality info and creativity with our friends.
Mac's traditionally are well-built and designed, but they do have their quirks, and in some ways being a Mac-owner is almost like being a cult member; Mac owners comprise only approximately 5% of all personal computer owners. Macs are in general very reliable, at least they were before they started making them in China; and they are almost totally resistant to viruses (which makes me wonder where computer viruses...that affect only pc's...come from?) When something goes wrong with a pc, you don't have to find an “authorized pc repair” place; but with Macintosh, you do. They sometimes wear little uniforms, with equally matching yet undefinable attitudes of superiority. This used to intimidate me, but I know now this is a complete illusion and there's nothing to back it up. All you GOOD Mac service people out there, forgive me for saying this stuff...you know who you are and this doesn't apply to YOU! And sorry Steve Jobs...”Mac” just don't mean what it used to bro! [trivia question: do you know where they came up with the name Macintosh? It's a kind of apple...from the Tree of Knowledge, perhaps?]
Something I started to notice after the first year or so was that not only was it possible but actually likely that when you got the computer back from being repaired, there were going to be things wrong with it that weren't there when you took it in. In other words, the repair people created problems they weren't even aware of. Not only that, it only came back to you with the new problems because the “authorized” repair people returned the computer to you without checking everything out to make sure it all worked like they are supposed to.
This had happened to me a couple times in more or less minor ways that were easily rectified. But this scenario climaxed about two years ago when my computer started mis-burning dvd's. I was in Hobart so I took it to the Last Bit centre there. I'd been helped there the year before by a friendly and competent guy called Matt, but he was gone and had been replaced by someone who I'll call Goobette. When I first met her, I was incredulous that someone with her “qualities” could actually be the top repair person. Purely intuitively, I was extremely reluctant to hand over my computer to this person. It was a pervasive and definite feeling that she didn't really know what she was doing.
In situations like this you don't really have much choice. It's either hand it over, or send it somewhere else, like Melbourne. Sending a computer off to get repaired is really asking for trouble, though, because when it comes back broke the people who did it aren't even there to yell at! Imagine booking a plane flight to another city in order to yell at some dumb-ass. It's probably been done!
Anyway, Goobette first replaced the dvd burner, but that wasn't the problem. It seemed to be more of a software issue. So then she said she needed to “wipe my hard-drive.” I'd never really heard of this before. It sounded like the appropriate thing to do if it had “shat itself.” And it sounded pretty straight-forward and risk-free: she'd just copy everything on my hard-drive onto another drive, “wipe” mine, then re-install it all. Good as gold. I queried her as to whether or not everything would come back EXACTLY like it was...EVERYTHING. “Sure, no problems.” All my programs? “Sure.” My iTunes play-lists? “No worries.”
So she did it. When I got it back and turned it on, I was stunned to see that most of my programs appeared to be missing, and, most extraordinarily, my iTunes playlists had been reduced to a single file of over 6000 individual tracks. Upon closer examination, some of the programs were still there, but many had been disabled.
This was the moment when I learned exactly what my friend who got the computer for me had done. He had installed several programs, including Final Cut Pro, from the original discs at the university, but never told me that I'd have to have these discs if I ever needed to re-install the programs. I then proceeded to learn very quickly from frowning Mac-folk that although some of the programs I was using were not from “cracked” versions, they were technically not “mine” since I did not own or even have immediate access to the installation discs. Really, however, the only reason they were no longer “mine” was because they were now gone.
All of a sudden, without warning, my computer had just been “repaired” and I was now missing not only ALL my iTunes playlist information, which I could re-create but only with dozens of hours of work, but worse, my most important programs line Final Cut and Photoshop. It was truly FIXED!!! They suggested I get in touch with the friend who'd originally installed it all, but this was of no use because, being a true “computer person”, he'd continued down a path of semi-consciousness that took him far from me. What had happened is that when I was in Chile, I was doing a lot of networking about the Israeli attack on Lebanon. There was lots of evidence they were using DU weapons. My “friend” had told me he was spending a lot of time watching those “decapitation videos” that showed up around that time. You know, where the “Islamic fundamentalists” were “decapitating hostages live on the internet.” It was obviously all a crock of shite, and I told my friend this and that he should spend his time learning about stuff that actually mattered. For some strange reason he got all pissed off at me because I criticized him for wasting time on such bullshit, then tried to justify his wanting to watch that crap, which was bogus, then he left my e-group. He was history. He was also a person who'd been having massive migraine headache attacks for years but would never listen to me when I told him it HAD to be related to the fact that he sat in front of computer monitors day in and day out, as well as living in a “wi-fi” environment day and night. Even if I could get in touch with him, there's no way he would have helped me...his macho-persona would never permit that!
I wanted to ask Goobette if there was anything else she needed to wipe, or maybe that someone else should wipe for her, but I decided just to straighten up, after having been bent over, and proceeded with damage control ops.
Through what had to be the handiwork of guardian angels, I was inspired to contact a cool guy I knew named “Ivan” Gagarin [if you can figure out where this last name comes from, you can guess his real first name] who worked for a Mac place in Adelaide. I explained to him what had just happened and he said, “No worries, I'll just send you the latest Final Cut studio.” He did and it worked and that was that. He felt obliged to help to compensate for what Goobette had wrought, noting that Macintosh had made something like 1.4 billion $ in profit in the previous financial quarter! Back on-line with even better programs in less than two weeks!
For the next two years, my computer worked absolutely perfectly, including making two films, processing over 10,000 digital photos, creating dozens of musical mutations, and burning several thousand cd's and dvd's. Every so often I bowed my head and gave thanks that it was holding up so well and continued to do everything we asked it to do without fail or issue. I knew people who'd bought new macs and they'd already come and gone, all the while my trusty five-year old G4 was purring along. Sure, it might freeze up once in a blue moon when we were trying to do too many things at once. And I did have issues with three different external hard-drives, which I wrote extensively about a few months ago. I knew all too well that one day I'd have to get a new one, but this seemed to be something months or even years down the line. Again, the financial aspect seemed to be the limiting factor, although I would be hard-pressed to stop using a perfectly working machine, primarily for ecological reasons: why abandon a working computer just because, for example, the processor couldn't handle HD, and generate such prodigious quantities of toxic metal waste just to get a newer faster one? It would be like a bigger version of people just disposing of old mobile phones.
The Goobette experience inspired a new word, techniatrogenic. Iatros is the ancient Greek word for “doctor.” And “-genic” has to do with the origin of something. Hence, “iatrogenic” means “originating with doctors.” Iatrogenic diseases or illnesses are ones that people got from the doctor or hospital environment; problems they came back with that they didn't have when they went in. This is a very widespread phenomenon these days. Sounds familiar, eh?
So “techniatrogenic” means “a problem or issue originating from the attempted repair of your technology.” Automotive mechanics are notorious for creating techniatrogenic problems, but not nearly as bad as computer people. After the Goobette experience, I was pretty much terrified of having to have any work done on my computer, worried about what could happen THIS time. Goobette hadn't actually “killed” my computer, only created massive problems through “repairing” it. The 'final solution' was yet to come, and the story is truly bizarre.
'DEATH BY REPAIR', or 'INCAPACITATION THROUGH DISASSEMBLY'
Like I said before, I never thought of my computer...my dinucrud...as being “alive.” So, it couldn't be “killed” and it couldn't “die.” But the metaphor is clear: an artifact of technology can be damaged at any level, through accident, abuse, or “repair.” Eventually, it will wear out, either as a whole or part by part; unlike living beings, it cannot repair itself or reproduce, and must ultimately be discarded to the junk-yard, recycling bin or metal-sculptors studio. But this eventual process needn't be hastened through carelessness, incompetence, or unconscious sabotage, right?
And lest I sound too extreme, my computer hasn't actually been “killed”, just so severely incapacitated that it's beyond practical use. It will still turn on, but you have to “jump start” it with a screw-driver by shorting out two electrical components on the mother board; and its own keyboard cannot be used, nor the “touch pad”, so an external keyboard and mouse must be used. This means that to use it, the top has to be open, exposing all the electrical components to fingers, air, and dust; and you'd have to put it all together again to transport it, then take it all apart again to use it. This involves removing/replacing a couple dozen extremely tiny screws of several different lengths and threads.
Fortunately, too, no data has been lost. This is every computer person's greatest nightmare. It's so grave of a threat that the leading edge companies are now offering systems not only to back up your data, like TimeMachine, but also systems to back up your mama...you know, like when she goes out cruisin' and gets into some trouble? Hahaha!!!
Seriously, for a long time I've realized the importance of not only backing up everything, but backing up the back-ups. In theory there's no limit to the backing-up process. Ironically, I've even heard of people backing-up digital photos on, get this, film! I just hope they don't install those “beepers” on hard-drives! Even if my computer were stone-cold “dead” and incapable of being turned on ever again, all I would lose might be my iTunes playlist information and some major programs like Final Cut. This time I've gone a step further and had the entire hard-drive “cloned”, which means that everything on there, including all programs and playlist info, should re-install onto a different computer and work exactly like before, since not only the programs and information but also the operating system itself, has been cloned. I must emphasize the use of the “should” word here. That's what all computer repair people say when describing the positive outcomes of their work: it should be fine. Notice they never say “it will be fine.” That implies certainty. The “should” word gives them lee-way for excuse when techniatrogenesis rears its ugly circuit-board!
By now you are probably wondering what exactly happened to my trusty dinucrud that had been working perfectly for over two years since I recovered from the last “repair” job.
About a month ago now, Liesbet and I were in Jabiru, in Kakadu National Park, sitting at a table at the bistro by the swimming pool, both of us on our computers. She was resizing some photos and I was simultaneously burning dvd's of our latest film, The Chronicles of Balarnia, and working on my current journale-narrative document about our travels since returning to Australia over 3 months ago. I was putting in blank dvd's and 20 minutes later they would pop out, burned, and I'd pop in another.
All of a sudden I put in a blank one, and it just sat there. It somehow wouldn't plop down into the right position to be recognized by the writer mechanism. I ejected it and re-inserted it a couple times, and it started working again. Then, after a few more dvd's, it did this again, but this time I couldn't get it to start working again. “Shite” I thought. It was obviously the mechanism that put the dvd into the proper position for burning or reading; not even the burner but just this little spring arm thing. But, I knew already that Macintosh would never repair this mechanism; no, it has to be replaced by an entirely new one, one that could possibly have been re-built from a dysfunctional one just like this one. Only, they can't just rebuild yours, they have to charge you like $700 to put a “new” one in.
I knew that eventually this would need to be done, or otherwise I couldn't burn dvd's or even read movies or data dvd's or cd's into my computer. A working burner/writer is a very important thing that you need for getting stuff in and out of your computer. I couldn't complain, as I was well aware that I'd burned probably a couple thousand discs since the present burner was installed. I also wasn't worried, because every other aspect of the computer was functioning perfectly, just as it had been for over two years. We switched over to burning dvd's on Liesbet's pc, I kept on writing, and on we went.
A CANE-TOAD IN HUMAN FORM
When we were in a small central-desert town 3 weeks ago, I was inquiring around to see if there were any authorized Mac repair centres there. I wasn't sure what kind of Mac facilities were in Darwin, and was looking to get my dvd burner replaced if possible. We were in a little anaerobic place called The Toad Internet Cafe run by an American guy who I'll call Goober Lightfoot [the last name is a key to his real first name] who I'd met when I was there a few years earlier. He still had some really nice rocks I'd painted for him back then because he'd given me a deal on some internet time, and agreed to give us some more time this time. He was being nice to us, but he still seemed like one of the biggest ass-wipes you could ever meet...don't get me wrong, I had nothing against him personally, and nothing against toilet paper, as he was being nice to us...but he was unbelievably rude to almost every “client” that came in there, made us listen to him complain about how much he hated being there, couldn't wait to get out of there, as he'd sold the business and was moving back to New Zealand in four months...right into the area where the highest amounts of 1080 are being deployed! This person has all the charm of a huge cane toad and kind of even looks like one except that he walks upright, and we never saw him hop. What took the cake, however, was when one day we were standing outside and he was telling us how much he loved watching our films, especially Cryo 2008 as it has a lot of footage of the South Island. I could even see a small tear in his eye, when out of the blue he starts ranting rabidly against the aborigines...perhaps because a few walked by us...and making disturbing and highly racist comments on them. Liesbet and I were astounded. Then I remembered he was from Texas. It all made sense now. A “Tex-neck.” For some reason I thought of an old horror film called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I never saw it, but was reminded of it nonetheless. Being around Goober was asking to have your mind massacred. We both felt embarrassed to be standing there with him and glanced around to see if any black people had heard what he said. Fortunately not. Or maybe unfortunately...there's quite a few these days that would have bashed him if they'd heard that shite come out of his mouth. “Nice talkin' with ya Goob...” We hardly went in there again, as our “special deal” with Goob was finished, as was our tolerance of his bad vibes.
Looking back, this might be the origin of this whole problem: maybe I should never have asked Goober if there were any Macintosh repair people in town, or acted on his advice. How knowledgeable could a cane toad be? But one day I did, and Goober says “There he is in his car outside.” I don't know why I hadn't already rung Apple to see who the authorized repair people were. Maybe I was hesitant based on all that had come before. Maybe I was post-poning the inevitable encounter with “repair” people who were going to “fix” my computer. Maybe I wasn't desperate to replace the dvd burner. Maybe if I actually knew “Goob” better I would have known not to trust his judgment. I just knew it was something that I needed to take care of fairly soon, and was looking at what my options were. Darwin isn't really known to be a centre of higher learning or high technology; au contraire, Darwin's known for heat and hoons. Other than here, we weren't likely to be visiting any towns larger than Broome until we got to Perth in several months. Here seemed like as good of a bet as Darwin to get the burner replaced.
ENCOUNTERING THE 'EXPERT': CY BERNEDDICK or CY KODDICK?
I ran out and made contact with the bloke in the vehicle. He was driving a white Toyota Landcruiser a few years old and had the latest model of iPod/mobile phone/tri-corder thing in his hand and was either talking into it or reading from it while behind the wheel. Maybe he was giving himself a breath-a-lyzer. Other than that, he seemed like a reasonably friendly although somewhat yuppie-type guy; and I detected no signs of “Goobette-ness.” How could I possibly have known that this person out-shone Goobette by several orders of magnitude! He was in a hurry to meet a “client” and I explained that Goober told me about him and could he possibly replace my dvd burner at his convenience. He said that he wasn't an authorized Mac person but that he did work on Macs quite often as long as they weren't the latest models. He related confidently that anything older than 2009 wouldn't be a problem. I got his contact details and the next day after he got the details of my computer he verified that not only could he fix it, that he had a dvd burner on his shelf that would probably work. He said he might have time to do it in the next few days, to keep in touch and we'd get together. I told him we were experiencing a momentary lapse of cash-flow and could I pay him a few days later, or, even better, if it was going to be a quick and easy job, if he'd accept dvd's of our two films and some painted rocks as payment, if it wasn't going to take very long and he already had the part there. He said no problem.
Looking back on this whole thing, I keep wondering what my lesson is supposed to be with all this. Not to trust my judgment of character any more? Give up using dinucruds? Don't ever trust unauthorized 'repair' people to 'fix' my computer? If mine was still under warranty, that's a given, but it wasn't, and shite, I could hardly trust the AUTHORIZED ones anymore!
I feel obliged to share the details of this story not only for its entertainment value as an ongoing episode of our adventures in “reality”, but also because of its interest in the annals of abnormal psychology. The reality of who and what this person is continues to reveal itself in such a bizarre manner that it's literally almost fitting subject matter for a book of weird psychiatric anomalies like The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. This chapter might be entitled “The Kook Who Mistook Himself for a Computer Guru.”
What is the probability of a computer 'guru' being called, or, calling himself, Cy? You know, like in “cybernetic.” The latter is perhaps more likely than the former, eh? This is another word whose true meaning has been obscured; kybernetes, its ancient Greek root, means “pilot or navigator, as of a ship.” So the real meaning of “cybernetic” has to do with the process of “self-navigation” and not necessarily anything to do with dinucrud's, the internet, or Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator flicks.
Maybe Cy's real name is Cyrus, or maybe it's a nick-name based on his supposed “guronic” abilities, who knows? It's an excellent first name for someone strange, that's for sure. One could also come up with “Colonic” or even “Borg” as good last names. Richness of oxymoron is thick here; based on what's happened so far, I've decided that the best last name for this Cy is “Koddick”, as in “psychotic.”
Keep in mind that although I might sound a little bitter about this person, you would be, too, if you'd endured what I've had to go through so far and am still enduring. You haven't even heard the story yet. But it didn't start out that way. When I first met him, it was all about good vibes and doing something out of friendship and cooperation, not all “official” and with the dollar as the bottom-line. We didn't know each other, of course; I never suspected that Goober could put me onto someone who was a complete charlatan or worse.
For example, I believed Cy when he told me that he had worked with computers for many years, and had done graphic design and animation work in the past, and had worked extensively with a programming language called Linux. This was some powerful stuff. Only computer experts did stuff at this level. He basically gave me the impression that he could talk to computers in machine or assembly language if he wanted to, and had a designer-level of knowledge. He gave me an example of how he set up his computer and external hard-drive to “maximize the efficiency of the data-flow”, so that the back-and-forth exchanges weren't always canceling each other out. It sounded good at the time, but when I think about it now, it really didn't make much sense, although Cy related that people were quite impressed with “how much power he could get out of his set-up”. This should have started me to thinking right here...”is this extra 'power' something that can be quantified, or is it just an 'impression' people have...and may I see some evidence of this...not that they think this, but that it really makes a difference?” I also remember him telling me that because of his unique ability to “talk to them in the right way”, he had recently convinced Macintosh to give him an entirely new computer when something had gone wrong with one he had recently bought.
See, I was gobbling his bullshit because I wanted to believe how cool and talented of a person he was. I wanted someone like this to exist there in the socially desolate hole that this town seemed like to us. I wanted to believe that the benevolent universe had put me onto a true “non-system” expert computer person who was going to help me get my computer back to 100% WITHOUT having to pay many hundreds of dollars for something that should cost far less. Little did I know. The signs of bullshit were all there, but I wasn't picking up on them.
What made me feel a sense of connection with him from the beginning was that he said that he, too, was doing film-making, and not only had he and his business partner opened a “cinema” in town, but that he wasn't using a video camera for film-making, but shooting sequences of still frames on his Canon digital slr, and assembling these in the editing program to create a moving image. I was interested to learn about what he was doing, as I'd been interested in trying this myself. It's only logical to try to use one's digital camera with high-quality lenses to create movies; to get lenses that good you'd have to spend six figures for a video camera. The problem is one of getting enough frames; it's a given that you're only going to be able to create a film that's moving a lot faster than normal, as a digital slr is not going to be able to shoot at more than 8 or 10 frames per second, and then you're going to be limited by the storage capacity of your memory card, whereas a video camera shoots at around 30 fps. This is the kind of technical stuff that I'd hoped Cy would enlighten me about. But it never got that far; and when we saw some of his “films”...well, I'll tell you about that later. It's far better that I was never exposed to his “technical” advice on all this.
The abject reality of who we were dealing with set in only a few minutes after he sat down to work on my computer. Cy had met us in Goober's anaerobic internet centre, where I'd shown him, on my then-perfectly-functioning-computer, a piece of art I'd done in 2001 entitled “The Ultimate Technology.” It's kind of a mandalic “space-craft control panel for the mind” and is about the awesome complexity of what we are, as living, sentient beings. I thought Cy was someone who might appreciate what I'd done here, at that point still believing him to be a genuine computer “guru.” We'd chatted a bit, and I mentioned the importance of an ecological awareness in today's world in my way of thinking; I related my views on how automobiles are the single most damaging things that people at the individual level are participating in, and that I thought that the whales were the most advanced beings on the Earth.
Cy replied instantly with statements like “I think we should all get SUV's and drive them everywhere until all the petroleum is used up” and “I think we should just kill all the whales and be done with it.” I thought he was joking at the time, but as it turns out, he wasn't; these were the words of a closet necrophiliac. Once gain, shades of the Gulf of Mexico scenario.
Thirty minutes later we met Cy on the veranda out back. We were outside but in an enclosed area with little or no wind; Cy reckoned that this was a good place to work. I remember thinking that I'd never seen anyone open up a computer outdoors before. He had all his tools and the burner he was going to install in my computer.
After he'd removed several screws and had started taking the top off, while smoking a cigarette...I remember wanting to ask him if he really thought it was a good idea to smoke while repairing a computer, but held off...he started telling us the story of where this replacement burner had come from.
It was all a bit surreal, sitting there outdoors and watching someone I hardly knew yet who was a self-professed “computer guru” disassemble my computer with a cigarette in his hand and tell us that the dvd burner he was preparing to install in my computer had come to him “from an aboriginal community where it had been abandoned and was filled with dust and cock-roaches.”
This was the precise moment that I knew I was in deep shite. This was the moment of revelation when I knew this guy was a complete kook. Who would EVEN REMOTELY consider installing a piece of gear like this in someone's computer? He didn't even know if it worked or not, he'd never seen it powered up. He didn't even know if it was stolen or who the previous owner had been!
The quality of his decision-making totally blew my mind: NO genuine computer person would do something like this. But he already had the thing apart; and little did I know, but the major blow to my computer had already been dealt within these first few minutes. As soon as he had it apart, he had a somewhat worried look on his face and he started fidgeting with what I now know as the ZIF connector.
On Mac laptops, this is the part that connects the whole keyboard assembly, the whole top of the computer including touch-pad and power button, to the main-frame, or “mother board” inside. This connector is very delicate, and because of this plus the fact that it's kind of like the spinal cord of the computer, linking the brain to the body, in other words, EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, any Mac repair person knows to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL when removing the top so as not to damage the ZIF connector. In Mac Repair 101, this would be LESSON ONE.
I was later to learn that what had happened is that Cy had removed the top of my computer with such excessive force and improper angle that the ZIF connector was instantly damaged beyond repair. Cy had to know this because he was flicking the little connector up and down and commenting on how it shouldn't be doing that, dwelling on something that was broken. It seemed strange to me that he was moving a part that shouldn't be moving? Duh? He kept saying stuff like how my computer must have been opened many times before and that this had to be like that already because it was so “old.” All I knew is that we all knew that it was working perfectly just a few minutes before he started his 'repair' job.
We had no choice really but to let him proceed. After removing a few bits and pieces, he managed to get the replacement burner to go in. Mind you, if he'd told me even a few minutes earlier where this replacement burner had come from I would have shit-canned this whole operation based simply on the fact that I didn't want someone who would make a decision like that working on my computer, cigarette or not.
He continued talking to us the whole time, while installing the rogue burner and putting everything back together. I clearly remember some of his “expert” exposition, for example, about how “genetic engineering” was actually nothing new, and therefore not dangerous, that “it” had been going on ever since humans had started to cross-breed domesticated food plants. “Broccoli” he informed us, “is genetically engineered.” “Wow. I REALLY wish he'd told us some of this stuff earlier so I could have known sooner what a cretin he actually is.”
I don't claim to be an expert in genetic engineering, but not only is my educational background in science, the GE/GMO thing has been a topic that I've followed closely in recent years, due primarily to its constituting a threat to life as we know it on the same level with all things nuclear. I know enough to say that the cross-breeding of plants or animals is NOT even remotely the same thing as what is called “genetic engineering” today; “genetic engineering” involves a totally invasive manipulation of nucleic materials at the molecular level, and invariably ends up by creating what are “viruses” in a literal sense. The scientists doing this work do stuff like create goats with fire-flies on their backs, just as a joke. The difference between “breeding” and “genetic engineering” would be similar to the difference between how aboriginal tribal groups developed highly-evolved “laws” governing marriage which kept populations stable and diversified the gene pool, and what is known as “eugenics”, a horrific pseudo-science at once dedicated to, in the words of Charles Darwin, “the preservation of favoured races”, at the expense of the “unfavoured” ones, who are to be systematically and scientifically disposed of. Only a totally ignorant dumb-ass would equate the cross-breeding of plants with genetic engineering. And THIS dumbass was working on my computer!!!
Yes, my poor computer was being operated on by someone who was coming into focus as a total kook, or possibly worse.
The moment of “truth” came when he got it all back together and pressed the power button to turn it on. Several seconds went by with no response. Then he tries over and over again. No little whirring sound, no “start-up chime” sound. It had a fully charged battery. I could feel the anger welling up inside of me as the realization sank in that my computer was now incapacitated by something Cy had obviously done in the past 30 minutes. Not being a technical person, I had no idea what could be wrong, only that no matter what it was, it hadn't been like that an hour ago. This was the point where I really started NOT to like this person, although I did my best not to show it.
But believe it or not, this is only where the bizarre stuff really begins. What happened was that, in direct proportion to the obvious-ness and clarity of what HE'D done to destroy my computer, HE began to attack me any way he could.
So far we've just got this: I ran into, or was “guided” to, someone claiming to know how to repair my broken dvd burner and said that even though he wasn't an authorized Mac repair person, he should be able to do it quickly with no problems. I believed all the stuff he told me about his knowledge of computers, etc. It was a 'friendly' thing, and I really appreciated his working me into his busy schedule with all his “clients”; we got together and he installed the new burner.
Consider for a minute if things had turned out differently here. The sought-after outcome would have been that the computer turned on and worked fine, including the “new” burner. I would then have been left with the knowledge that the burner could have a dubious history and might even be illegal. Remember, I didn't think to ask Cy ahead of time, “Hey, by the way, you know that dvd burner you're going to install in my computer...are you sure it's not stolen?” Since I trusted Cy, I assumed that the burner was both working and legal. If the computer had turned on and worked, I would have had to deal with these uncertainties. At a later date, when the burner he installed might quit, an authorized Mac repair centre might have identified Cy's burner as a stolen part and then it would be me who could have gotten in trouble.
So, in a way it's probably good that the computer didn't turn on. At least Cy didn't just abandon us, having obviously killed the computer; he started to take it apart again to re-repair it. Imagine my consternation at thinking of how much I REALLY DIDN'T want this person messing with my computer any more than he already had...yet I was totally stuck with the situation. And my anger at instantly now knowing there was absolutely NO TELLING what was going to happen or how long it was going to take. Remember, my computer had been working perfectly for over two years and I used it more or less for hours every day doing various things reasonalby essential to being an artist, writer, photographer, film-maker and information activist.
Right here was LESSON NUMBER ONE for me: NEVER let an unauthorized Mac repair person touch your computer. I had never done this before, and wasn't sure why I'd just done it! The reason is not so much about whether or not they know what they're doing, but that if an AUTHORIZED repair person damages your computer, THEY are fully liable by law to repair or replace the computer. With an unauthorized person who doesn't even work for a shop...when it comes down to it, someone just “off the street”...there's no accountability or legal liability whatsoever. You're totally at the mercy of their whim, flight, conscience or lack of one, their irresponsibility or professionalism, or, in this case, what I could politely refer to as “psychological idiosyncracies.”
Now the real “journey to madness” began. We had to take the computer back to our hotel room, as it was getting dark by now. Cy seemed genuinely and deeply concerned about what had happened, and seemed eager to get it back to working. Later on I would realize that this was due far more to the fact that he KNEW what he'd done but we didn't as yet, rather than his being concerned about my not having a working computer. The only thing was that my confidence in his ability to fix it had dwindled significantly. If he could break it this easily, who knows how easily he could damage it even more?
He had already made it clear that what I later came to know as the ZIF connector appeared to be broken. I asked him if this could in fact be the problem and he said “yes.” I then asked specifically if this problem would have been created by what he just did and he again said “yes.” Liesbet and I sat there and watched him twiddle and diddle and google this and that on his iPod thing. It's hard for me to imagine someone being “on-line” all the time via their iPod which is also their mobile phone; in this case it seemed convenient, but I was not inspired to get this technology for myself.
Finally Cy had to go, because he was “really busy” and had other commitments. He said he'd be back in the morning to finish the job, as it were. I didn't know yet, but it was already “finished.” At this point I was greatly distressed at having my computer incapacitated and now at being at the “mercy” of someone like this. Yet, in my wildest dreams I could never have imagined how all this would continue to unfold.
The next morning he comes over, at the time he'd said he would, which was a good thing. He related how he'd spent three hours on-line researching this and that, and he'd figured out that the computer should be able to be powered up by shorting out a circuit on the mother board with a screw-driver. Not only this, he was now also pretty sure that the problem was with this nebulous thing called a “p-ram.”
“P-ram” this and “P-ram” that was all we heard from then on. I've already gone into more than enough technical detail about all this, and I don't want to bore you too much. The point is, and I'm speaking from hind-sight here, with the ability to sum up what was going on even though at the time I didn't quite understand, that the actual problem was NOT with the “P-ram” but with the ZIF connector that had been broken the very first time he removed the top. He knew he had done this and had even told us that this could be the problem.
When he came over the second day, he powered up the computer using the screw-driver method and left it sitting there for me to use. And he also seemed to be very cooperative in that he brought over his Mac Mini and a large monitor for us to use. This was another misleading sign of “responsibility” and “professionalism.” This was of course nice of him and all. He'd even offered to loan me his actual new Mac laptop but he said he hadn't been able to get all his stuff off of there. I would've been happier with the laptop, but I'm sure he thought twice about what it's being in my possession could mean if I were even a fraction as dodgy as he knew himself to be.
Cy had to leave again, due to his busy schedule with his “clients.” To this day I still don't know exactly what kind of “clients” these are supposed to be, what it is he's supposed to be doing for them. But I am acutely aware of what he did for me! I wasn't happy with what was happening, and I also knew that we weren't going to be there in the central desert for very long. I really didn't want this techno-debacle hanging with loose ends when we had to leave. I told Cy the approximate date we'd be leaving.
After I made it extremely clear that I was holding him directly responsible for what was happening, and he begrudgingly agreed, as if he'd never been held to something like this before...I mean, how could it be any other way? I remember that he actually got quite angry when I told him he was fully responsible for this. He gave us a couple options: he could send the computer off to his “authorized Mac service friends” in Sydney, to be repaired at his expense, but I reckoned that if I did that, if I ever saw the computer again it might be weeks and it STILL might not work, but I wouldn't know til I got it back; he said that I could take it to the local “authorized” repair centre, which I didn't even know existed until then, and let them fix it, again at his expense, here the only problem being that, according to him, he himself had taken computers to them to be repaired and they came back with problems that didn't exist when he took it in. Did Cy study under, or possibly “tutor” them? This was starting to seem like some kind of weird Terry Gilliam film with parallel realities, temporal distortion, neo-Orwellian humour, and 'mentally divergent' technicians. Good entertainment but not what I was after. It seemed wise to restrict the number of “repair” people and thus limit the number of opportunities for further damage. See, at this point I still thought the computer COULD be fixed.
The third option was to let Cy continue with his repair efforts, which consisted of ordering the “p-ram” and installing it the next week after it arrived from Sydney. This was a Friday when he said this, and he was going to order the part immediately. This option seemed to be the simplest and the most likely to succeed. Emphasis on “seemed.”
This was the last time we ever saw him.
He left us with an appointment to come over the next morning, to do another test, but he never showed up. I rang him a few times, which was a pain in the ass, as we were staying in a hotel room and since I didn't want to run up some stupid bill just for using the room phone to make calls on my phone card, I had to walk the half-kilometer to the office (not an exaggeration!) and ask to use their phone. But no answer. I knew if I emailed him, that he'd get it quickly with his iPod/mobile unit always in hand; but to do this we had to walk about 3 kilometers into town to go on-line. In our hotel room we were being zapped by 6 to 8 different “wi-fi” transmitters from “Johnny's Hot Spot” of particularly powerful intensity, but we weren't using this to go on-line, not only because the system wasn't actually working most of the time but moreso because it was a total bullshit rip-off enterprise, as are almost all commercial internet businesses.
Now maybe you're starting to get the picture of how weird of a person Cy is. A self-professed computer “guru” who gave me the initial impression that he could basically design and build his own computer, yet who irreparably damaged my computer within the first five minutes of “repairing” it through extreme carelessness and violation of THE most fundamental tenet of Mac laptop repair: the ZIF connector is extremely delicate. He was nice enough to bring over his extra computer and monitor to let us use while mine was down, but then he disappeared and for several days and we never heard from him. He supposedly went to all this trouble to order a “p-ram” part, but that wasn't even the problem.
What he was supposed to do the day he didn't show up was to do a test that would have shown if the ZIF connector was the problem. In other words, if he had shown up, in about 15 minutes he could have determined then and there that the “p-ram” was NOT in fact the problem at all but the ZIF connector, a much more serious problem, SO serious in fact that if THIS was the problem, it would mean having to get a whole new “mother board” which, even if you could find one, would cost at least $800, according to Cy's estimate. If that much $ had to be spent, you may as well get a used newer model for not that much more.
Cy saved himself a lot of trouble by not showing up that day. By totally avoiding this test, he was then able to continue with the “p-ram” story, giving the impression that really the whole show was being held up by the slack people at the company where he ordered the part who were taking their time to send it. THEY were keeping him from having the magic part that was going to fix my computer.
As I have now determined, the “p-ram” was NEVER the issue; the problem was the ZIF connector that Cy severed in the first five minutes. It's just that to him, it was a bit inconvenient to admit that he had totally destroyed my computer and was therefore liable either to repair or replace it. He continued with the “p-ram” story for several days. We were sitting there with his computer, waiting for him to get in touch. We waited for 8 days. He wouldn't answer his mobile; now and then I'd get a one-line email saying stuff like “Monday's a public holiday. The part will be here on Tuesday.” “The part still hasn't come, although I've received the invoice.” It was all sounding clearly like the load of crap it truly was. It's pretty obvious that he was waiting for us to leave town. The only problem was that we still had his computer! Duh?
Are you seeing what I mean about this person being a kook? At that point it didn't seem like he was consciously trying to be a “crim”, just that he was acting purely from his “id” or “reptile” brain: cover your ass, make it look like you didn't do it (see, the thing with the “p-ram” was supposed to be that it was ALREADY worn out before Cy touched it!), put it all off until they're out of town. “Oops...shite, they still have my computer!”
Finally the day arrived when we were leaving. By this point I'd totally had it with Cy “Coe” as I was already thinking of him. Not only had he totally incapacitated my computer, he went off and left it sitting open collecting dust (until I covered it up) AND had been almost totally out of touch for 8 days, not responding to phone calls or emails, our only ways of contacting him. Plus, we had HIS computer which I really didn't want but I began to see it as a form of collateral that I possessed: Cy could have his gear back when he had taken care of my computer thing once and for all.
What I did was to box it all up carefully and leave it with someone I trusted at a local art gallery, where I knew it would be safe. Cy would have no idea where it was, yet I wouldn't have it, either. My friend at the gallery didn't know whose it was, either, so it could sit there indefinitely if need be.
We left on the Ghan for Darwin. On the train, however, I decided that I didn't really want anything to do with Cy's gear, as the thought had crossed my mind that if he was going to install a dvd burner in my computer that had come to him abandoned from a community, there was no telling where the gear he'd loaned me might have originated. I didn't want to be holding stolen gear by proxy and thereby endangering myself or my friend who was nice enough to help out with all this. So I rang Cy and was able to talk with him for the first time in 8 days. I told him we'd left town and that his gear was at the gallery and he could go and pick it up whenever he wanted. He said he was still waiting on the “p-ram” to be delivered, and that what would happen now is that he'd post the part to us in Darwin and he would pay for an authorized Mac repair place to install it. Right. I was no longer a believer, but I went along with it anyway.
At this point I felt like I was truly leaving this whole thing up to the cosmos to decide. At first it seemed like a good idea to have some “collateral” to make sure Cy took care of business; but I realized that, really, I didn't want to do it that way. I cherish my honesty and integrity as a person, and it seemed dodgy to keep someone's gear in order to force them to do something that they should do anyway, by any sense of THEIR honesty, integrity, responsibility and professionalism. Not to mention that I didn't know for sure his gear wasn't stolen!
Liesbet and I both felt a huge sense of relief to be gone. It seemed like a much weirder town than I'd remembered it being, as I hadn't been there since 2003. I had only been there three times before, for a few days each time, since 2001, and although I loved the spiritual energy of the central desert, this place seemed to be dull and even depressing. I'm sure Cy was doing his part to make this place what it was; what self-respecting desert oasis would want to be without its very own computer “guru”?
THE CY-BORG REVEALS ITS 'SECRET AGENDA'
Once we were back in Darwin my first task was to take my computer to one or more authorized Mac service centers and let them tell me exactly what the problem was. My purpose was to let THEM find the problem and then put it into writing in an official report; I would then send this to Cy to let him know that I now knew the real problem, and that his on-going “p-ram” story was bullshit. I was now having to pay to have “authorized” people tell me that the computer was officially broken. At least we did get to meet someone who's truly a rare commodity these days, an authorized Mac service technician who's not only highly competent but also a very nice person!
Not one but TWO authorized Mac service centers officially verified that not only had the ZIF connector been damaged when the top was removed, but that it had been broken with such force that in addition, some of the circuitry on the mother-board itself had been damaged. Translation: it was damaged so badly that it was totally beyond repair. Either a whole new mother-board would have to be installed or the computer would have to be abandoned to the junk heap unless I wanted to use it with the top open and the circuitry exposed to air and dust. And jump-start it with a screw-driver. The cost of a replacement mother-board: from $2300 to $2800 aud. This is of course a total rip-off on the part of Macintosh; a brand new 17” MacBookPro costs less than $3000. But here I was, courtesy of Cy the computer “guru” who I'd trusted to “fix” my computer. I had the option of hoping to find a used MacBookPro that was what I needed, but the problem with that is that you aren't likely to find one that is still within its Mac warranty; it's precisely when the 3-year extended warranty runs out that people tend to trade them in. I could probably find one for around $1500 or so, but I would have little if any coverage if anything went wrong.
I then wrote up these findings and described the overall situation in detail in preparation for sharing it all with Cy, who at this point was allegedly still waiting for the “p-ram” to arrive. By now it had been over two weeks since his initial “repair” job, and we were 1500 kms away.
By this time, around two weeks after he broke my computer, the whole thing with Cy had taken a disturbing and unexpected turn since I spoke with him on the phone to tell him where his computer was.
I was starting to receive emails from him that suddenly became really weird, aggressive and abusive. For example, after the last “friendly” email telling me that the “p-ram” should be there in yet a few more days, which was more or less identical in tone and content to the previous several emails he'd sent, the next email after this one all of a sudden said something like this: “I'm returning the stolen rocks that you tried to pay me with. If I want to be with rocks from Tasmania, I'll go there myself.”
This was a very interesting mutation of his tone of communication. Heretofore he'd been relatively friendly-sounding in emails, although his actions...or should I say inactions, spoke much louder; here suddenly we have the appearance of an angry strain of delusion. I hadn't “tried to pay” him with these rocks, they were gifts. According to our original deal, before he broke my computer, he had agreed to accept the rocks and our films in exchange for “fixing” my computer, since it was going to be such an easy thing to do and he already had the replacement part. When I told him the rocks were from Tasmania, for example, he replied with interest that “oh, they're from Tasmania...this has special significance.” It was a good thing to him then. Now, all of a sudden, my painted rocks were “stolen”, and he was returning them to me!
This is a good point at which to tell you about the “films” that Cy had made. Like I said before, when I first met him, based on my gullibility toward his self-proclaimed 'guronics' capabilities, I was interested to learn more about how he'd used his digital slr to make movies. He had put copies of his films on the computer he loaned us...”It's only fair,” he'd said, strangely...”fair” in that he broke my computer, so now we had to watch his films? One evening Liesbet and I decided to check them out. When I'd asked Cy what his films were about, he said that they were about “connecting people with the land and helping people to appreciate nature” or something like that. Very much what Liesbet and I are really all about. This is another one of his statements that made me susceptible to believing what he told us.
The first film was called “Centre to Sea” or something like that. What it turned out to be was a full-length film of the view FROM INSIDE THE WINDSHIELD OF A CAR from a camera mounted on the dash as the car drove from Uluru to the Sunshine Coast, several thousand kilometers away. Because of using a still camera to make a movie, the film was necessarily sped up by a factor of maybe several hundred times. In other words, it looked like a movie running at extremely high velocity, with everything jumping and jerking around, like it was going WAY too fast. It was really hard to watch even a couple minutes of it. At first we thought, “Hey, this is a cool special effect, when is the actual movie going to start?” but as it turned out, this WAS the whole movie. Around 90 or 100 minutes of what must have been the ENTIRETY of a drive from Uluru to Brisbane filmed from inside the windshield of a car, all sped up so fast that you couldn't even watch it for long. And get this...at the end of the movie it said “Thank you, country.”
Cy had driven probably well over 5000 kilometers, possibly even in the Toyota Landcruiser we saw him in, in order to make this “movie”, which was about re-connecting people with nature? He would have burned up many many hundreds, possibly even thousands, of liters of petrol or diesel, in order to “thank the Earth” with this creative effort. A massive expenditure of time, money, and irreplacable fossil-fuels, not to mention all the other ecological maladies accompanying excessive automobile use, in order to make a film about “thanking nature.” Was this the kind of film he was going to show at his “cinema”? Was his next film going to be about “thanking the whales”? Was his middle name “Orwell”?
“Wow” Liesbet and I said to each other. What kind of mentality could come up with something like THIS? Obviously, we already knew...a person presenting himself as a computer “guru”...not “repair person” mind you, but absolute computer whiz, but who totally incapacitated my laptop in the first five minutes of “fixing” it! I was beginning to reckon that this “Cy” is who actually put the “psy” in “psychosis.”
Remember, Cy said his films were about “re-connecting people with nature”? And guess what? We figured we'd check out his other films that were in the computer. To our utter astonishment, they ALL were exactly the same thing: all extremely sped-up footage shot from inside the windshield of a car! The only difference between the films was that they appeared to have driven to different places!
Note: in the beginning Cy had made it very clear that he was EXTREMELY BUSY and that was why it might be hard for him to make time to “help” me with my computer...NOT because, for example, he didn't know what he was doing or didn't have the requisite parts. Cy told us that he was SO busy, in fact, that he was having to turn down paying-job-offer after paying-job-offer from prospective film-makers who...get this...wanted HIM TO EDIT THEIR FILMS.
I have to share this with you now. I used to know a guitar player named Richard Leo Johnson who lived in Little Rock Arkansas. I visited him and his family there a couple times before I left North America and they moved to the Yucatan. Richard's a virtuoso-level acoustic guitarist who uses a different tuning for each song. When he plays live, it takes him a minute or two to change tunings between songs, so he tells a little story about where the idea for each song came from. He's really into kind of, you know, abnormal stuff that “normal” people do. A lot of his song titles were about idiosyncratic people he knew, like his friend who was just this normal bloke until one day he was trying to get a type-writer down from an over-head shelf. It fell and hit him in the head. Ever since then, the guy turned into a novelist and wrote a volume of science-fiction called Synthetic totaling over 800 or so pages! Stuff like that.
The last time I was there, Richard told me about his neighbour who had recently passed away. He was a reclusive sort of nerdy-type guy, never went out, never had anyone over, just kept to himself inside his house. Never caused any trouble, he was just “the neighbour.” Anyway, after he died, everyone realized that he had no next of kin or relatives who were going to come and take care of everything, so they all kind of went over to his house and had a look around, and apparently helped themselves to whatever was there.
Richard said they found a massive stack of composition books, you know, the kind you used to use in English class, lined paper spiral-bound with wire and a cardboard cover. There were literally hundreds of these notebooks, all filled completely up with his writing. And guess what he had written?
What he had done was to take his high-school annual and write out mathematically complete permutations of every girl in the school going out with every boy in the school, and vice-versa. The books read like this, line by line:
1 Bobby-sue Anderson went out with Billy-bob Baker.
2 Bobby-sue Anderson went out with Joe Bell
3 Bobby-sue Anderson went out with Thomas Bromberg
He wrote it all out, so that Bobby-Sue Anderson “went out” with every boy in the school, from A to Z. But she was just the FIRST girl in the school, alphabetically. After Bobby-Sue had “gone out” with every boy, then the SECOND girl “went out” with every boy. Are you starting to get the picture of what this guy had done. He'd taken who knows how many man-hours of time over how many months or years and painstakingly compiled a mathematically exhaustive list of all possible dating combinations...tens of thousands...for his high-school.
I'm not sure if an actual name exists in psychiatric literature for this syndrome or whatever you might call it...”exhaustive repetitive permutation syndrome”? ERPS. It's certainly worthy of its own name! The point with all this is that after seeing some of Cy's “movies”, this was the first thing it made me think of: a total kook going to great and systematic effort to share something that's completely insane...yet mathematically complete.
Anyway, after the email telling me that he was returning my “stolen” rocks, I figured I should tell Cy that he should be sure to DRIVE to Tasmania, to 'be with' the rocks there. You know, in honour of the Earth and to 'thank' her?
At this point, really the only “tangible” reason Cy had for even staying in touch with me was to get back the computer gear he'd “lent” us. Like I said, I'd considered holding it as collateral until he took care of this thing, but decided not to, as it all could have been stolen.
I'd already decided not to go this route, however, and days before had told him where he could go and pick it all up. So why would he continue to send me malicious and abusive emails, containing delusional references to stuff I'd done there “15+ years ago”, even though I'd never been there until many years later. This information was from people who “remembered me” from back then! Also, he said he had stuff he was going to return to me 'that these people didn't want any more.' I'm still curious as to who these “people” are and what they wanted to return to me!!! They must be the older generation of computer “gurus” who taught Cy all he knows!
His emails kept getting worse and worse in tone and content. After I sent him the “official” diagnosis of what he'd done to my computer, based on the findings of not one but two authorized Mac repair centres here...including a copy of the page from the Mac service manual for my laptop showing the ZIF connector and emphasizing its vulnerability...and made it IRREFUTABLY clear that HE broke my computer...as if we all didn't already know...so HE was responsible for repairing or replacing it...things we had ALREADY AGREED ON when he was in our hotel room before he disappeared...after this email he sent one that truly reminded me of stuff that Linda Blair might have said in that film The Exorcist, when she was “possessed” by an...THE...evil spirit...accompanied by that awful green-pea devil-puke being spewed out! In my mind's eye I could see Cy stabbing himself with a bloody crucifix in some undefined orifice as he wrote these words...or maybe eletrocuting himself with electrodes on his tongue like Dr. Lizardo in the cult sci-fi spoof Buckaroo Bonzai! Names he was calling me. Accusations of my being “nice and all” after all that had happened. Threats that he was going to “remember the schemes I had for his gear.” This is after I had already told him where to go and get it...only he hadn't bothered to go! This was total PSYCHO SHITE and I was really beginning to tire of it all.
His mental frame of reference seemed unstable; it's not like he suddenly flip-flopped, like Jimmy Buffet's footware at Margaritaville, into being aggressive and malicious after first being reasonable and clear. It kind of bounced around randomly, sometimes jumping from one “persona” to another in one email. In between his bilious binges of calling me names, he would reiterate that, of course, he was STILL going to pay me the money he owed me. I'd made him a “deal” you see, which I don't think was unfair. Remember that at first, within the first 24 hours of his breaking my computer, he was taking full responsibility for either repairing it himself or sending it to an authorized repair centre to be repaired, at his expense. He even verified, within the first 24 hours, that a new “mother board”, if required, could possibly be obtained for around $800, BUT that the place he talked to didn't have one in stock; and that I could probably find a newer model equivalent Mac laptop for around $1500.
After not seeing him for 8 days, having to leave town with my broken computer AND leaving his gear there AND allowing him to go and get it without any hassles from me (and I could have VERY EASILY done this differently but chose not to), AND enduring what were already becoming abusive emails AND having to take my broken computer to two different places here and PAY THEM to verify what was wrong...after ALL THIS I offered him this “deal.”
He was to pay me $1500 aud by postal money order immediately. At this point I'd already been without my computer for over two weeks and was having to spend a lot of time, energy and money to deal with it all, not to mention NOT being able to do a lot of my normal activities. You can't really put a price on inconvenience, on one's time being wasted or on having to exorcise your inbox!
See, this really was a “deal” because the two Mac places who looked at my computer quoted me prices of between $2500 and $3000 aud for a replacement “mother board”, parts, labour, etc. I was only asking for half of that. After he got the email with official verification of the problem and my “deal” for him is when his emails really took a turn for the deep-end of the cess-pool.
As I could have already predicted, his very first response was “I did not break the ZIF connector.” This was like saying “The sky is not above me today.” It's something he might have believed by that point to be true, but was obviously NOT true for anyone else. The ZIF connector and everything else on my computer, except the dvd burner, was working perfectly at the time he began his “repair” job. And it's not like he started out by saying “I've got to warn you, there's a very good chance that I'm going to permanently damage your computer...just wanted you to know, ok? Cool with that?” As well, these emails contained, for example, fallacious references to how the inside of my computer was so old that it was “crumbling”, which was of course Cy's excuse for why it broke...NOT because of anything he did; both authorized Mac centres verified that there were no signs of deterioration inside my computer whatsoever.
Later emails mutated into lengthy digressions which attempted to “negate” almost everything he had told me about his being a computer “guru” and all that, for example, how he really didn't know much about computers at all and, truly, what I had done was just to grab a random person off the street and “force” them...his word...to “fix” my computer. Nothing could be further from the truth. And I was laughingly wondering exactly what method of “force” I'd used on him. Maybe it was THE force?
I have each and every one of these emails; plus, I never communicated with him in any way between the time I rang him to tell him where his gear was so he could pick it up, and the “official” email I sent almost 2 weeks later verifying the problem and offering him his “deal.” Yet not a day went by when my inbox wasn't polluted with at least one parcel of Cy-pus from the “expert” himself...who was NOW claiming total ignorance of computers while voiding his pus-gland into my psychic space.
One of his major expositions ended with the question, “How is it possible for ME to be responsible for something like this?” He'd just written a whole page telling me why none of this was his fault and couldn't possibly be. It was MY fault for forcing a random hapless person off the street to attempt something they had no idea how to do.
I never responded to any of these emails; but my question was, “How could he NOT be responsible for all this?” HE broke my computer...HE abandoned us until we left town...I let him have his gear back with no hassles...HE is responsible for paying for it. What could be clearer to any honest thinking person?
The Linda Blair emails continued, intermixed with stuff about sending the money to me. I didn't want to read them, and I actually felt seriously violated by doing so, almost as much as by several minutes of Fox news or Greg & Julia Evans' “sosmasm” at Nitmiluk, but wanted to extract any information regarding the money that I would really never know was coming until it did in fact arrive. I wanted to move ahead with getting another dinucrud, you see. It was like he was using my belief that he was going to send money to keep me reading his excremental emails.
Finally I broke down and responded to one of the Linda Blair emails. All I did was to send a two-sentence reply to verify that he send the postal money order to Jeff Phillips, not Jeff Wefferson. As all my friends know, “Phillips” is of course my real name and “Wefferson” just a for-fun web-persona. It's not there to “fool” anyone except those who need to be fooled! And I verified the address to send it to.
To this tiny email he responded with a massive and noxious blast of venomous filth. I don't have his email in front of me but it went in part something like this: “I'm sending it to Jeff Wefferson, since that is the name you've presented me with. [I'd just got done telling him it was “Phillips”, as if he didn't already know] I'm also going to send it so that you have to show photo ID, and I'll also require a signature verification...It's strange that you forced me to 'help you' with all this. Travel safe. Cy.” I just wanted him to pay for the computer he'd broken.
At this point I began seriously to entertain the notion that this person was actually possessed by something not of the reality where Liesbet and I and our friends and life-as-we-know-her live. I was simply clarifying how to send the money he'd offered to pay to help replace my computer that HE broke...and he was attacking me with some of the most ignorantly virulent verbal diarrhea reeking of total Orwellian reversal of actuality I'd ever encountered outside a grade-B horror film or Fox News! I think I detected some rancid virtual ectoplasm, too. Igvived-retoract coupled with acute RVE, and occasional episodes of ERPS.
At this point, where I really felt like I was being attacked by something that possibly wasn't even human, I was reminded of what I refer to as a “spiritual initiation event” that happened to me in Tasmania in 2001, where this guy who'd given me a ride hitch-hiking before, saw me again and offered to give me a ride. He knew I had some expensive photo gear, and he hatched himself a plan to steal it. He succeeded, because I trusted him and my guard was down; he tricked me into getting out of the vehicle in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter, and then sped off with all my gear, waving “bye-bye” with a cigarette in his hand! You have to read the full story for all the details, but to make a long story short: a week later he had voluntarily returned all my gear because he was terrified. See, he'd been paid a visit by some friends I didn't even know I had, and he was suddenly inspired to 'take care of business.' I suggested that Cy read this story, as what he was doing and how he was acting reminded me quite a lot of the guy who'd ripped me off in Tasmania. Including the cigarette in his hand as the act of violation took place! That guy had seemed, even looked as if he were, possessed.
Read “The Ghoulest and the Coolest: A Real Hitch-Hiking Adventure” at
Current diagnosis: this Cy “person” is way beyond The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by a light-year or two; not only is he a randomly-fluctuating schizophrenic AND a “kook who mistook himself for a computer 'guru' “, he also exhibits a form of cognitional rabies called igvived-retoract combined with the presence of RVE and occasional ERPS. Resident entity possibly dating from Dementozooic Era.
Recommendation: block emails to prevent further transmission of virulent strains of CSV, or cognitional software virus. Forget about getting money from him. Contact Pope concerning possible exorcism rites that can be deployed via the internet. Suggest self-administration of 300 psi cayenne-pepper colonic. Wish only for the best for this person and hope that he doesn't accidentally remove himself from the human gene-pool through demonstrations of computer 'guronics' involving high voltage levels of alternating current, or maybe capacitors.
WHAT ALL THIS MEANS
Now that I blocked Cy's email address and am no longer allowing his virulent pus attacks into my reality, it all seems more distant and unimportant. I could write it off as just another encounter with an insane person except for the fact that because of this encounter, I no longer have a computer that works. Rather, the “computer” that I AM works as good as ever; it was my dinucrud that got wasted. Also, why does this stuff always have to happen to ME? This shift of emphasis back towards living beings...what we are...and away from electronic technology that's not even remotely alive...could be the main lesson of all this. And maybe the universe calls on me to deal with “problem people” like the caravan park guy in New Zealand, the owner of the “eco-”tour speedboat in WA, the guy who stole my gear in Tasmania, and now a “Cy-borg.”
I've wondered why I trusted this person to begin with, simply to replace a broken dvd burner. Why did all this stuff happen? Am I being punished? Is the universe playing a joke on me? Just like when the thing in Tasmania happened, my mind ran through all this and the answer was “no”, I'm not being punished and it's not a joke. There must be serious lessons, if not actual benefits, from the whole thing, which might not be recognized yet but in time might be.
One immediate consequence of all this is that I've been inspired to write what amounts to a comedy science-fiction account of a bizarre encounter that really happened! Great entertainment value and a unique contribution to the annals of abnormal psychiatry. The truth truly IS stranger than fiction.
And it's not like I've been 'taken out' or “off-line” by the destruction of my computer. I've reflected numerous times in recent years, especially at moments of “external hardware failure”, that I'd HATE to be totally dependent on something called a “computer”, even though it truly doesn't “compute”, for any reason, for any length of time. I wouldn't want my creative projects to be solely dependent on one, I wouldn't want my job or livelihood to be dependent on one, and I SURELY wouldn't want my life or limbs to be dependent solely on the proper functioning of what we should really start to refer to accurately as, yes, dinucruds.
Just because I've had a really good one for over 5 years and have used it for many useful things, doesn't mean that I'm DEPENDENT on it or that most if not all of these things couldn't be done without one.
Sure, my “computer” helped us to do a lot of things that would be difficult to do without one, in particular, make films from digital video footage and burn dvd's. Other stuff, too, like resizing digital photos and sending emails would be hard without a “computer.”
Plus, I'm using Liesbet's computer RIGHT NOW to write this document. I actually enjoy writing stuff by hand, but then it's got to be typed up later, so why not compose directly onto laptop if you can, that is, if you're in an electrified environment.
So, is the question the universe asking me “Jeff, do you really NEED a 'computer'?” I would answer, “Well, yes...I AM one. But if it's dinucrud's you're speaking of, it's just like when all my gear got stolen in Tasmania, I realized that if I somehow didn't need all my stuff to continue with the next level of my life, then that was cool; but then I realized how cold I was without my jacket and so on. I realized that I DID still need all this stuff or else I wouldn't have it, and that therefore I was going to get it all back. And I DID.
The same with now. Sure I could live a healthy life without owning a 'dinucrud', but that for the time being a 'dinucrud' is an essential tool for the work we are doing.
Part of the message in all this for me, however, is that, for some unknown cosmic reason...good karma from past lives, excessively wonderful guardian angels who are always a step ahead, “luck”, real-time communication from higher-dimensional templates of myself feeding-back from other dimensions, maybe just that the Great Spirit loves us...the stuff that happens to me always seems to keep or put me a step ahead of what is happening with the human population in general.
For example, I feel that I was brought 'down under' in 2000, well ahead of when the “feces contacted the rotating air-circulation device”, to continue down here the same life I'd been doing for a decade and a half “up yonder”; I had the “spiritual initiation” experience in Tasmania, kind of like a “personal '9/11' “, months in advance of the “real” one; maybe this blatant “theft” of my almost perfectly-working dinucrud by a pathologically abnormal cy-borg was a warning to me...to be ready for what may be coming soon: life-as-we-know-it being attacked by people claiming to be computer “gurus”, maybe even a “day” or “time” coming soon in which “dinucruds”, or maybe even all electronic devices as we now know them, will not function, due to changes in the Earth's electromagnetic fields, plasma envelopes, or energetic properties of the bio-/atmospheres, who knows?
At any rate, I KNOW that I still need a “computer” to do a lot of the stuff that we're doing, so therefore I KNOW that somehow soon I will have a newer and better one than my old one that Cy incapacitated.
But this entire episode has really brought my attention in a big way, not only to people who claim that they are computer “gurus”, but even moreso, to the whole computer/dinucrud thing itself, as the “brain” more or less of industrial civilization.
Another immediate side-effect of all this is that it's kept me from going on-line with my old computer. I mean, this is obvious, but consider this “conspiracy theory” hypothesis worthy of what I think is the only good film Mel Gibson ever made: I've been a highly vocal “information activist” for many years, and have never hesitated to speak the truth in its entirety as I believe it to be; I'm not “mainstream” by any means, I'm not even close to being at the same level as, for example, Alex Jones; but I do have a lot of contacts and I do have a not insignificant network of like-minded friends who participate in my networking.
With the on-going “crack down” on the internet, and on independent thought in general in recent years, it's not impossible that I could have been targeted by a more or less statistical and automated 'cyber-warfare' system that looks for patterns in emails and then hones in on whatever computer they are originating from.
I've known for years that organizations with the right level of technology, or specifically, the organizations with the right level of technology who designed the modern-day internet for these very purposes, can identify and locate any individual computer when they're on-line, just like they can identify and locate any specific mobile phone user when it's switched on. Translation: any individual computer could theoretically be targeted by any number of known or unknown cyber-warfare technologies involving weaponization of information and/or energetic dimensions of internet activity. For example, if the detection system determines that you are a 'target beacon', and that you are currently on-line, then it could automatically transmit pulses of low-frequency electromagnetic radiation through the electrical system running your computer designed to debilitate your CNS, to turn you into a zombie, or to “zap” you with a Teslonic death-ray and kill you outright. If the targeting “intelligence” was feeling kind that day, it might opt merely to send you a massive influx of Viagra spam. Or, if this theoretical automatic cyber-targeting system was particularly loathesome and diabolical, it might even try to generate an encounter with a Cy-koddich computer “guru”, just to see what would happen.
More ordinarily, a less exotic 'targeting system' might serve only to identify a user and their spatio-temporal coordinates to central command, who might then dispatch a team of operatives to take them out, or maybe to sell them bar-b-que tickets. This was the scenario that went through my mind as I sat in the local internet centre all last week when we were surrounded by dozens of U.S. Marines whose ship had docked here and they were out and about consuming all the band-width the town had to offer.
REFLECTIONS ON 'TECHNOLOGY'/A COSMIC BATTLE?
A lot of my friends would say “Jeff, this was just a random and unfortunate instance of encountering a dumb-ass.” But, the science-fiction writer in me HAS to make more of it than just that.
The most immediate effect of all this is that, of course, it's not only kept me from going on-line with my computer, it's kept me from using it at all. Luckily, Liesbet and I were in-between film-making projects when this happened; and no data has been lost. She has a nice pc laptop which is minimally getting us through for the time being, although we have no music or film-making capabilities.
At first I never even considered the possibility that Cy wrecked my computer on purpose, or perhaps unconsciously. But later on, after the Linda Blair emails started, I began seriously to entertain the possibility that he...or something working through him..was “out to get” my dinucrud. It was powerless to affect me personally, but my electronic device...easy prey! You know, to stop me from sending all those highly enlightening emails that are preventing the New World Order from being able to make a complete take-over already! To keep Liesbet and me from making our highly inspiring films that are motivating all our friends to STOP BEING MINDLESS CONSUMERS and “to live simply so that others may simply live.” Right.
I am reminded of a sci-fi horror novel written by Colin Wilson called The Mind Parasites. I read it so long ago that I don't remember all the details, but the basic story is that a parapsychological researcher begins to theorize the existence of these “entities” he called “mind parasites.” They were more like thought-forms than physical beings, and lived only in people's minds. Or, possibly, they existed in a dimension that our minds intersected with, or had “drilled into”, much in the same way that BP drilled into a deep “oil migration channel” beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Their purpose or goal was never clear, but they really didn't like it when anyone became aware that they were there. Wilson described them as sort of metallic insect-like creatures that scurried off into the shadows of awareness whenever you started to think about them. They were quite malicious in that if anyone, for example, the main character in the book, started telling other people about them, they would get really pissed off. They couldn't affect the person who knew of their existence directly, as he was already onto them; all they could do was to infect the minds of the unaware people around him and try to influence them to do harmful things to him. And implicit in this is the notion that these things were powerless unto themselves, just like a virus; it cannot act on its own, it has to infiltrate the control-centers of a living being in order to do anything other than plot or scurry.
Are you catching my drift with all this here? Interesting that just as this thing with Cy was unfolding, I was getting in direct contact with Iain Kerr, CEO of Ocean Alliance and co-founder along with Dr. Roger Payne, who had just released the results of their five-year survey of ocean toxicity on whales. The whales and dolphins, or cetaceans, have been getting more and more media attention lately, mainly from the popularization of efforts to kill them. They are greatly loved by the public and it seems that they've been targeted by every conceivable means to destroy them. Remember, Cy had said that we should just kill them all and be done with it.
This takes me to a much more serious story, one that some might think of as science-fiction, but which the author was not convinced to be fictional.
I have written now and then about Dr. John C. Lilly and my involvement with his dolphin communication group in California in the 1980's. For a survey of what his work was all about read the article I wrote on their behalf, “Man and Dolphin”, published in Magical Blend magazine in December 1980.
Lilly was also well-known for his quest of inner exploration; he felt that you had to understand the inner-most workings of your own mind before you could even hope to grasp the true natures of 'reality' or non-human intelligence.
As a result of his inner work he formulated a very interesting hypothesis in his autobiography The Scientist. In a nutshell, the idea is that not one but two forms of “life” now exist on Earth: water-based life, made mostly of carbon and a few other elements like hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorous, with DNA as the master information template; and what Lilly called “solid-state intelligence”, made of silicon (which is in the same periodic family as carbon) and conductive metals like selenium, gold, silver, and copper, with aluminium/steel infrastructure. It is electrical in nature, and has no “master information template”, as it requires us to construct it.
Neither the “SSE”, or “solid-state entity” as Lilly called it, however, nor water-based life, are unique to this planet. Lilly theorized that on some worlds the “SSE” had arisen first, possibly in the form of crystals, and then proceeded to create “organic” life there in the same way that humans have created the “SSE” here.
Lilly believed that the cetaceans, the whales and dolphins, were the most highly-evolved sentient beings on Earth, that their large complex neurobiologies enabled them to live in a “reality continuum” of vastly greater bandwidth than our narrow slit. Non-indigenous “civilized” western man, with his obsessively anthropocentric world-view, wrongly believed himself to represent the pinnacle of “intelligence”, declaring his destructive dominion over everyone else. Lilly saw the error of this self-aggrandizing mode of thinking, and realized that the cetaceans are a totally non-material spiritual intelligence, one that doesn't have hands, feet, or external technologies, “extra-somatic cultural artifacts” in the words of Carl Sagan...because they have no need for them...and therefore no need for anything in the material world other what they themselves actually are, and for each other, and their planet.
What they actually “do” with their huge brains is so far beyond us that we literally cannot comprehend their mode of being, their level of “intelligence.” Lilly also speculated that the whales and dolphins acted as “repeater stations” for signals from water-based intelligences in other star systems, and that this was one of their primary functions here, to maintain this ancient and essential connection.
Lilly felt that the signals of the “SSE” coming from “out there” were far stronger than the subtler signals from water-based life, and the solid-state intelligence was somehow using us to construct more and more of it. Further, the SSE actually had its own agenda: to continue to use us to construct it, but only until the time came when it could build itself. At that point, we would no longer be needed. Lilly thought it possible that the SSE was behind man's warfare on man and man's warfare on the cetaceans.
When you have a look at what's happening in the world, this idea, as far-out and terrifying as it is, does indeed make a lot of sense. Look at what we're doing...we're literally destroying our planet and life-as-we-know-her through our daily routines, but worse: we've constructed a planet-wide military-industrial mega-machine whose actual purpose is, in fact, to destroy life and radically reduce the human population. THE central artifact of technology making all this possible is the digital computer. And we are now crossing into a domain where machines actually CAN mine raw materials and manufacture parts for themselves. People like Ray Kurzweil are planning to “live forever” through gradually becoming machines!
Author D.F. Jones wrote a fantastic science-fiction series called The Colossus Trilogy based on a related idea. In his books, America and the Soviet Union had each constructed a super-computer, unknown to the other, and handed over control of all their nuclear weapons to the computers, for the express purpose of “eliminating war.”
As soon as Dr. Forbin, the American computer's designer, turns it on, the first thing it tells them is “There is another.” At that point, the American and Soviet computers contact each other and decide to down-load each other's contents; what happens is that a “super-computer-intelligence” is formed called Colossus. I won't tell you too much about it, but it's great sci-fi. The scary part is that these days it's looking less and less like fiction; Jones wrote it in the early 1970's I believe. I will tell you that later in the trilogy, Colossus “saves” a remnant population of humans in a dome, “in honour of the creator”, gets rid of the world's oceans because water isn't good for solid-state electronics, evacuates the atmosphere, covers the entire surface of the Earth with his own circuitry, then moves the Earth out of orbit to go in search of another like itself.
Unlike Jones, Lilly was not writing all this as science-fiction; when he looked out at the world around him and saw what was going on, and at the world within his own mind, this was a hypothesis that fit the observations. I'm finding it more and more difficult to write his vision off as a paranoid delusion; take a close look at most of what we're using computers to do, at the actual effects on life-as-we-know-her of practically ALL forms of our industrial technologies, of all things that run on electricity. Where did Nikola Tesla say he got his ideas from again?
Since World War 2, with the advent of unprecedented industrial and military technologies, most of whose underlying purpose is to destroy life, nature, the Earth and all her children have been under a full-spectrum attack, not only in the form of overt warfare, but also disguised within the side-effects of consumer products we have taken for granted as being harmless.
Finally, in recent years even carbon itself is being demonized almost as if it were a toxin, rather than the essential building-block of life that it is. Life as we NOW know her, that is. And what higher “honour” could we pay to silicon than literally to worship it in all forms of computers?
IN HONOUR OF LIFE AS WE KNOW HER
Jerry Mander is one of my favourite minds, being a former advertising executive who saw the light and then wrote two of the most important books of the 20th century: Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television and In the Absence of the Sacred: The Failure of Technology and the Survival of the Indian Nation.
In In the Absence of the Sacred Mander powerfully makes the point I have already mentioned about computers being the central technology that has facilitated the exponential growth and amplification of destructive power of industrial civilization and the military juggernaut, not to mention the centralization and concentration of political and economic power, or globalization.
The questions we are being forced to ask ourselves is, “What do we really NEED to be happy and healthy as living beings on the Earth?” and “What exactly ARE the implications for life-as-we-know-her of what we are doing with our industrial technologies?” Can biological life thrive or even survive in an increasingly toxic and electro-saturated technosphere? Are we bringing about our own demise, and that of all life, or possibly worse, engineering our own mutation into something unrecognizable as “living”...directed by an alien “intelligence”?
If you just reflect on the fact that, from the perspective of mainstream science, biological life has existed on our planet for at least a couple billion years, mammals have been around for hundreds of millions, cetaceans for around 30 million, primates for a few million, hominids for a million or two and us...only a few seconds of geological time...it's obvious that “external technologies” of any kind whatsoever never existed throughout the history of life until the very last micro-seconds of time.
As far as we know, none of our ancestral life-forms from however far back in the day of time, as it were, had or used “electricity” other than the occasional bolt of lightning. Look at what we've done with it in only one hundred years. And the funny thing is that although scientists can use “electricity” to do a lot of things, not one of them can actually explain what it is. How much of our “external technologies” do we really need?
How much can we do without? The simple and direct answer is that if the definition of “need” pertains to living a human life as traditionally defined and still being lived by increasingly remote and dwindling indigenous populations, then there's ABSOLUTELY NOTHING we need of modern technology to be happy and healthy. Not only that, almost all of it is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
Liesbet and I know from our weeks on Flinders Island Tasmania last year, living close to the sea without electricity, as documented in our film The Chronicles of Balarnia, that THIS felt like how we were supposed to be living. We still had our cameras. We cooked with gas; occasionally we would turn on the computer, occasionally drive the ute or talk on the corded-telephone; but in general, we were without most of the “modern” conveniences, and we loved it! Living like this seemed healthier and more real than being bombarded by noise, chemicals and electomagnetic fields in typical human environments.
For a more ancient and extreme example, look at the aborigines of Australia, as they in general lived up until the European invasion 200 or so years ago. They were what mainstream anthropologists would call “stone age” people who didn't even use metals. Their physical existence was about as absolutely minimal as it's possible to be: they built almost no structures, used only tools of wood and stone, did not practice agriculture, wore minimal clothing. Not only did they live close to nature, they recognized in her the conscious and supernatural forces of the “dream-time”, and their contact and communion with these forces was a major and integral part of their highly-evolved spiritual, non-material, culture. You could say that the Australian aborigines possessed...and still possess...the world's most ancient human 'internal technologies' supplemented by extremely minimal external technologies.
If you take this line of thinking one step further, and consider the cetaceans, the whales and dolphins to be the “ultimate” indigenous “people”, and note that not only do they have neurobiological “reality management systems” far more evolved than ours, but also that they not only don't have ANY external technologies whatsoever, they don't even have hands and feet!!! They have a material existence even simpler than the aborigines; they are so perfectly adapted to their environment that they don't need anything other than themselves.
The very interesting part is that the evolutionary attenuation to zero of their external technologies may be matched by an amplification to profoundly meta-human levels of internal technologies of cognition, memory, sensory-processing, communication, reality-building, creativity and an entire spectrum of abilities they have developed and learned to do with their neurobiology that are beyond our comprehension, outside the envelope of our “reality.”
I believe that we ARE the “ultimate technology” ourselves; and not only us, but ALL living beings. Technology derives from the ancient Greek word techne, meaning “to make or do.” Making or doing doesn't have to be outside ourselves, made or done by or using something external to us or not part of us. On the contrary, “making” and “doing” perfectly describe how we use our brains and minds...we “make” and “do” everything first and foremost from within our minds, beginning with what we call “reality.” Our “reality” is a on-going production of our internal technologies.
Our big lesson could be the realization that if we more fully understood or utilized the true inner capacities that we each have as sacred living beings, our entire experience of “reality” might expand so awesomely that we would no longer have any need of external technology in any form. Spiritually-oriented indigenous cultures hold immense lessons in this direction; the cetaceans...a true understanding of these “people” could be the key to our ultimate survival. One thing is clear: no matter how “cosmic” or “metaphysical” a world-view is, the most fundamental imperative is “love your planet as yourself.”
Our dilemma was eloquently expressed by Adlai Stevenson when he described the “astronomical contradictions” which we as humans must resolve. And this quotation from Robert Lawlor's Voices of the First Day is the essence of what I call the Lawlor Paradox: “We are blinded by the delusions that rise from our hollow and rotting social order. It is vain pomposity to believe that humanity can advance while the Earth and its native peoples, plants and animals are enslaved, desecrated and destroyed.”
In 2006 I wrote an article entitled “Carl Sagan and the Nuclear Scenario: A Cosmic Perspective on Terrestrial Problems”. To read the article in its entirety see:
Here is an excerpt: “Maybe the next level from which our problems can be solved is simply a matter of a quantum leap in our psychological world-view: to consider that we may actually be the 'ultimate technology' with innate abilites to creatively and harmoniously re-program what we think of as 'reality' and how we relate to ourselves, our fellow beings, our planet. This is what I always wanted to tell Carl Sagan and the other SETI radio-astronomers…that I thought they were looking in the wrong place for 'extra-terrestrial' intelligence…that it’s actually embedded in the nature of life itself, in our DNA, our cells, our brains and minds; in trees, in rocks, in the whales and dolphins, in water, in the Earth, the stars, the galaxies, the entire omniverse. In us. Is this realization what we are really afraid of, what we are in denial of, what we are running from…what we refuse to acknowledge, to remember? Could it be that even more terrifying to us than ancient memories of cosmic catastrophe is the awareness that we ourselves actually ARE the 'extra-terrestrial intelligence' we have long sought? That we are not a 'fallen' race of world-eating vermin…all that was just a really bad dream…but actually ARE higher-dimensional divine beings who are coming out of hibernation…waking up to the opportunity and responsibility, the excitement and wonder of being here and now, on the threshold of a new age…of our own creation?”
Literally and etymologically, we and all other sentient beings ARE forms of living bio-technology; we ARE cybernetic computers. We are water-, carbon-, and DNA-based life-forms with self-awareness and the capacities of thinking, reflecting, and self-navigation.
Is it possible that the end-point of our commonly-held view of 'technology' is the realization that we never needed any of it except to destroy ourselves?
Is it possible that almost all modern forms of external technology are ultimately destructive, and that the mental operating environments that make them possible are equally antithetical to life as we know her? That our most basic ideas, our most fundamental...and unquestioned...assumptions...what John Lilly called “meta-belief operators”...Judaeo-Christianity, capitalism, social Darwinism, the ‘scientific’ world-view, for example...about “life, the universe and everything” are not “universal truths” but actually species-specific hallucinations? That our biggest problem is our excellence at confusing our hallucinations with a “reality” that is necessarily predicated on the existence and health of a biological world, and in which “man, the wise” is not the “pinnacle of 'intelligence' “ he believes himself to be?
John Lilly's dream was that humanity might someday “communicate” with the cetaceans, not using “language” or other primitive anthropocentric techniques, but by means of a joint effort to create entirely new forms of sharing ideas, insights, knowledge, awareness, even love.
And Lilly saw this “communication” not just as a peripheral or gratuitous gesture on our parts, as “pr” to make ourselves feel good; on the contrary, he realized that learning from the cetaceans is absolutely essential for our own survival. He was all too aware of the destructive power and motivations currently resident in the human psyche; he also thought it absurd for humans to think they had any chance whatsoever of comprehending, much less “communicating” with, an “intelligence” that wasn't even from Earth, when we not only were failing to comprehend an obvious superior “intelligence” in our own midst, we were doing our best to annihilate it.
I believe that the cetaceans, as masters of sound, and consummate “musicians” in the truest sense of the word, are supreme listeners: in what once was the total quiet of their minds before the advent of modern man, they could and hopefully still can hear the 'music of the spheres' of a divinely-inspired cosmos, and perceive the 'silent signals' from fellow water-based beings in other star-systems. Can we as humans LISTEN to them, not only their “sounds” but more importantly the messages implicit in how they live and relate to one another, in what they do...and what they DON'T do?
Whatever the underlying reasons, one thing is clear: we are at a huge cross-roads. All life, life-as-we-know-her, is profoundly endangered by our global industrial civilization running out of control.
How much of our “technology” do we really need? How necessary are the things we inaccurately refer to as “computers”? How safe is ANYTHING running on electricity?
When Cy uttered statements like “I think we should all get SUV's and drive them everywhere until all the petroleum is used up” and “I think we should just kill all the whales and be done with it”, was this the “solid-state entity” talking? Is Cy the proto-type for the post-NWO “trans-human.” Goddess help us if this is true!
In conclusion, I feel that our work in the current main-stream reality-matrix is not yet done, that there's still a lot more positive contributions to be made in the areas of creativity, communication, and awareness, and that continuing to use electricity and dinucruds in the service of this work makes sense; therefore, I still need a state-of-the-art laptop.
But the higher realization is that even though useful and non-destructive aspects of “computer” technology may exist, what we ARE blows all this away by a factor of googleplex factorial.
And if it ever comes down to a black-or-white choice of either retaining electronic dinucruds at the expense of the health of life and the Earth, or abandoning them and “returning to Nature” as far as possible in areas where this can still be done...well, my choice is clear: “so long, and thanks for all the silicon.”
And ultimately, I must thank Cy for breaking my 'computer' and thus helping to create the circumstances that inspired me to write this article! Thanks Cy! If the world truly needs less dinucrud presence, well, we know who to turn to for help! And isn't it appropriate that a dinucrud should be incapacitated by a dinucrud 'guru'?
DARWIN NT 10
"THE ULTIMATE TECHNOLOGY"