Where's My Orgasmatron?
By Boris Johnson - The Daily Telegraph
DEAN ROHRER / The reason man did not conquer space is because it's too boring.
So here it is, folks. I am writing these historic words within hours of the new millennium, or at least of Y2K, and I have to tell you it is not what we were led to expect. For starters, what happened to interplanetary travel? When we were kids, there was a TV program in Britain called UFO. The introductory sequence showed gull-winged cars and a man striding down a long, white corridor wearing a set expression and a kind of rollneck pair of pyjamas.
Then they flashed up the date of the scene: 1980! There may well be people reading this article who weren't even born in 1980; and all we have on the moon are a few flags and a couple of clapped-out moon buggies. What happened to the future? That's what I want to know. It's only one year until 2001, and there's no sign of any of us being invited on an Arthur C. Clarke-style Space Odyssey, complete with super-depressed computers.
In the future, we were told, people wouldn't bother with mastication. There would be little nutrition pills. Cars would be shaped like Smarties and everybody would wear one-piece orange jumpsuits. Sexual gratification, you will remember from Woody Allen's Sleeper, was to be provided by a machine called the orgasmatron. Well, here we are, launching ourselves into this abyss whose very digits once fired our childhood imaginations, the magic three zeroes that meant space travel and gorgeous women in swimsuits with laser guns. But what do we find, now that we 're here?
Still eat dead animals
We still eat, in colossal quantities, the heated-up remains of dead animals. Our cars are not nuclear-powered Easter eggs. In fact, they are in all essential respects unchanged from cars at the beginning of the century. They have four wheels.
They have an internal-combustion engine. They do not have gull wings, mainly because it is much easier to get out by opening the door sideways. They do not travel at more than 200 mph, because we'd crash them. We don't wear one-piece orange jumpsuits to work because you can't beat a pair of zip-fly trousers if you have to get them on and off quickly.
The future has turned out to be a lot less futuristic than we once imagined. What the futurologists always leave out is human nature. What we forgot, back in the 1970s when we fantasized about the year 2000, is that it would still be shaped by the eternal needs of the species.
Look at a fork. We've had a whole century of technological advance, and a fork still consists of four tines on the end of a metal pronger, with a bit of a scoop thing if you want to shovel your peas. Why? Because a fork fits the human hand and mouth, and suits the human makeup, unlike one-piece pyjama suits or gull-wing cars.
Again, you are holding in your hand a piece of technology that is basically unchanged since the 16th century. Every week we read articles saying newspapers are about to be replaced by the Internet; and it seems amazing, in a way, that Britain's biggest-selling quality paper should be named after the telegraph, a piece of defunct signaling apparatus. But what they always forget, the dolts who prophesy the end of newspapers, is that you cannot beat them if you want to read on the train or the bus. By the way, I'll tell you why man has not conquered space. It's because we've been up there and we have discovered that there is not much going on. That is why it's called space.
And now, as we look ahead to the next 1,000 years, we find that people are still making the same elementary blunder. Instead of remembering that man is the measure of all things, and that human nature is pretty much unchanging, they make hysterical prophesies about the effects of global capitalism and technology. According to these gloomadon-poppers, various human institutions will not survive long into the millennium. The family will be finally blown up by the forces of choice and sexual liberation. The nation state will be left hollowed out and impotent by multinational business. According to a magnificently frenzied piece by Germaine Greer in the London Daily Telegraph this week: "We will make love to machines, force machines to make love to us. É People will soon be plugging terminals into their nostrils, their genitals and their rectums."
Prefer old-fashioned sex
Really, Germaine? Or is it conceivable that people will stick to the old ways and that your vision will remain as ludicrous as Woody Allen's orgasmatron? As for the trope that "old institutions" - family, community, nation - cannot survive market forces, the reverse is true. Look at the family (man, woman, children). Consider its success as a formula, a product. It's an all-time brand leader and market champion, and always will be. Perhaps there may be some people who prefer Germaine Greer-style relations with gizmos; perhaps Holland will eventually legalize gay marriage between three men and a dog (I do, I do, I do, woof). But the conventional family strikes me as the one to back for the next 1,000 years, and the Greer/gay/dog option will be reserved for a tiny minority.
The same goes for the nation state, since people will always want to be governed by folks who speak their language and who broadly share their set of allegiances. As for the alleged destruction of community by the heedless tides of global capital, all the evidence seems to be that people make more of an effort to cultivate local particularity when they can go anywhere and buy anything.
The reason these institutions are traditional, and the reason they will survive into the year 3000, is that they are market leaders. The facts of life are conservative, and that is why, as I look into my mystic window pane, I reckon we will still then be eating meat, wearing pants and having conventional sexual relations.
And with that thought I wish the faithful few who have reached this paragraph a very Happy New Year.
From Brasscheck < 1-6-2000
This guy was making a lot of sense until he slipped this in:
"The same goes for the nation state, since people will always want to be governed by folks who speak their language and who broadly share their set of allegiances. As for the alleged destruction of community by the heedless tides of global capital, all the evidence seems to be that people make more of an effort to cultivate local particularity when they can go anywhere and buy anything."
Well Boris, in case you didn't notice, there are already a lot of people governed by folks who don't "speak their language and broadly share their set of allegiances." As if governance ever had much to do with the desires of the governed. Ever heard of the Roman Empire? Do you think the Tibetans cheered the takeover of their country by the Chinese or the Estonians, Lithuianians and Latvians welcomed the Russians with open arms? How about the Guatemalans? Do you think they enjoy being a colony of United Fruit and its descendants?
Why would someone who otherwise demonstrates such sharp wit and perceptiveness make such a patently false and ridiculous assertion?
As for global corporations not destroying the integrity of communities, but rather stimulating the cultivation of "local particularity" (whatever that is) according to "all the evidence" says Boris, the man is again dissembling and must think his readers are fools. McDonalds has improved the French diet? Export plantations owned by multinationals have not destroyed indigenous agriculture and turned well fed, independent subsistence farmers into malnourished, wage slaves all over the world?
I'd sure like to know who Boris Johnson is. He's a slightly better than average propagandist.


This Site Served by TheHostPros