Tuesday, January 18, 2005

not quite sci-fi

when i wrote this in 2002, it seemed like (in)credible sci fi.
now it's so yesterday.

what price, progress?

the Shaheen as Cyborg-Falcon – the dystopic realisation of Iqbal’s vision

… a coincidence that passed unnoticed by historians studying South Asia in the late twentieth century… the symbolic presence of the poet Iqbal in the Indian space programme… the first two Indians in space, quoted to, and were quoted at, the Prime Minister(s) of India, lines by Iqbal…

... Sitaron ke aage jahaan aur bhi hain
Abhi ishq ke intihaan aur bhi hain

... Saare jahaan se achcha, Hindustan hamara

… Iqbal’s vision of the attainable superman, ideated through Nietschze, was metaphorized as a falcon … swifter and faster than all other avians (and more predatory)… the F-16 Fighting Falcon with its maximum ceiling of twenty kilometres, the last variants of which were phased out last year, no longer, obviously, serves as an appropriate metaphor…
… I posit that Iqbal’s perfect normative human being, a psychological norm achieved by a larger proportion of humanity than ever before, is best symbolised by the Russian Iltupmig Sokol(Falcon) which can circle the globe, at the equator, in 90 minutes, travel into deep space and go into geostationary orbit… Flesh falcons are nearly extinct, which adds some poignancy to the…

…We are all so remote from the lifeworld today that our view of it, expressed beautifully by old poetry which disguises its sheer terror, is
‘… As from his small window
The astronaut sees all he has sprung from,
The risen, aqueous, singular, lucent O
Like a magnified and buoyant ovum – ‘

- Seamus Heaney

… Communication, as Habermas envisioned it, is dead. Which is what makes us the solitary hunter falcons that we are. Hanging in a huge geostationary pack over the mental territories of the Middle-Earth of North America. But we are not mere flesh falcons now, but post-stratospheric Cyborg-Falcons, equipped with the strangest optics for looking down at the earth. The new ‘communicators’, the most obsolete models of which weigh only 250 grams, which 2 billion of us are equipped with, with which we can send and receive text, images, voice, LiveLink, all through the Net. Our communication with the lifeworld is down to the point of disappearing, and our awareness of the world is a constant distance from a single, somewhat distant globe, bound firmly by the optic fibres and wireless laser links of the Net, and no longer a diffuse, diverse, multifaceted, multicultural, living breathing bundle of a billion different experiences… Our communicators equip us with 8mm fisheyes, with what is close to us (the Middle-earth/America we hang above) relatively magnified, and everything else, the sphere that curves away from us, disproportionately smaller to the point of disappearing, almost the size of the stars which serve as an everpresent background to our imaginations, without the brightness. After all, there are yet more worlds beyond the stars …
…However, the fisheye glance, which casually incorporates the world in a larger framework of onward flight, can focus on any given point of the globe in terrific detail at a frightening speed, if the Net so chooses, like a falcon spotting prey. The ‘event’, the spectacular media catastrophe, makes our fisheye glance zoom in with a speed that increases every moment with technological advance till the event a thousand miles away is our only ‘reality’… resonances with the ancient Indian mythological story of the archer Arjun and the eye of the fish…

… The first of these ‘event zooms’ on September 11, 2001…

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