Viewing posts tagged crisis

An Ageing System

It's always puzzled me, this thing about people getting right-wing as they get older.  You'd think that the opposite would happen.

I mean, as you get older, you notice that the world keeps having the same problems, and that they tend to have the same underlying causes, and that nothing is ever done about them.  You notice more and more of the same kinds of scandals reoccurring over the years, time and again, and always based upon imbalances of power, and upon powerful people being unaccountable.  You're more likely to have a mortgage and debts, the older you are.  You're more likely to owe lots of money to banks and credit agencies, and to be crippled by these debts.  You're more likely to have health problems, and thus to need medical care, and thus to see that the Health Service is underfunded and overstretched.  You're more likely to realise that your investments and savings (if you have any) don't pay off in anything like the way you're told they will when you're younger.  You're more likely to worry about how you will look after yourself and your partner ...

11

Adric has found the Doctor sulking in the TARDIS cloisters.  The Doctor has lost Romana and K9.  He's feeling his age.  His ship seems to be falling apart too.  The stone pillars, overrun with vines, crumble under his fingers.   And, to cap it off, Adric wants to be taken back to Gallifrey.

"I sometimes think I should be running a tighter ship," he says sadly.

"A tighter ship?" gasps Adric, as though this is a threatening notion.

"Yes. The Second Law of Thermodynamics is taking its toll on the old thing. Entropy increases."

"Entropy increases?"

"Yes, daily.  The more you put things together, the more they keep falling apart.  That's the essence of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and I never heard a truer word spoken."

It's only fitting that the Doctor should fight one of his most elemental battles against omnipresent entropy.  The Doctor has encountered entropy many times on his travels.  The Tribe of Gum were dangerous because their world was dying in the cold, all heat drained away.  The Moroks froze entropy in an attempt to freeze their own declining imperial history.  Skaro ...

15

"What if there's no one out there?" asks the Doctor.  He's inside the Brannigans' floating car, stuck in gridlock.

What if the world ended when you weren't looking?

"Someone's got to ask, because you might not talk about it, but it's there in your eyes. What if the traffic jam never stops?"

"There's a whole city above us," says Brannigan, "The mighty city state of New New York. They wouldn't just leave us."

"In that case, where are they?" counters the Doctor.  "What if there's no help coming, not ever? What if there's nothing? Just the motorway, with the cars going round and round and round and round, never stopping. Forever."

What if the whole system is an utterly insane roundalay, going nowhere, getting noplace, just leaving everyone stranded, doing nothing but belching out endless clouds of toxic smoke?  What if the crisis is permanent.  What if normality is the crisis?  What if everyday life is the end of the world?

Walter Benjamin said that history was a train crash, and revolution was when the passengers pulled the communication cord.  The people of New New ...

Grinding Engines


The mechanical sciences attained to a degree of perfection which, though obscurely foreseen by Lord Bacon, it had been accounted madness to have prophesied in a preceding age. Commerce was pursued with a perpetually increasing vigour, and the same area of the Earth was perpetually compelled to furnish more and more subsistence. The means and sources of knowledge were thus increased together with knowledge itself, and the instruments of knowledge. The benefit of this increase of the powers of man became, in consequence of the inartificial forms into which mankind was distributed, an instrument of his additional evil. The capabilities of happiness were increased, and applied to the augmentation of misery. Modern society is thus an engine assumed to be for useful purposes, whose force is by a system of subtle mechanism augmented to the highest pitch, but which, instead of grinding corn or raising water acts against itself and is perpetually wearing away or breaking to pieces the wheels of which it is composed.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, A Philosophical View of Reform, 1819-1820 

Silence. It flashed from the woodwork and the walls; it smote him with an awful, total power, as if generated by a vast mill. It rose from ...

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