...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



    "Were you ever in on that Cold War stuff, Pop?"
    "For me? Too technical. But people at Bronx Science I ran with...Crazy Yale Jacobian, nice kid, we used to go downtown, make a little change playing Ping-Pong. He went off to MIT, got a job with the RAND Corporation, moved to California. We lost touch."
    "Maybe he didn't work in the blowing-up-the-world department."
    "I know, I'm a judgmental person, sue me. You had to been there, kid. Everybody thinks now the Eisenhower years were so quaint and cute and boring, but all that had a price, just underneath was the pure terror. Midnight forever. If you stopped even for a minute to think, there it was and you could fall into it so easily. Some fell. Some went nuts, some even took their own lives."
    "Yep, and your Internet was their invention, this magical convenience that creeps now like a smell through the smallest details of our lives, the shopping, the housework, the taxes,absorbing our energy, eating up our precious time. And there's no innocence. Anywhere. Never was. It was conceived in sin, the worst possible. As it kept growing, it never stopped carrying in its heart a bitter-cold death wish for the planet, and don't think anything has changed, kid."
    Maxine goes sorting among semiexploded kernels for what little popcorn is left. "But history goes on, as you always like to remind us. The Cold War ended, right? the Internet kept evolving, away from military, into civilian - nowadays it's chat rooms, the World Wide Web, shopping online, the worst you can say is it's maybe getting a little commercialized. And look how it's empowering all those billions of people, the promise, the freedom."
    Ernie begins channel-surfing, as if in annoyance. "Call it freedom, it's based on control. Everybody connected together, impossible anybody should get lost, ever again. Take the next step, connect it to these cell phones, you've got a total Web of surveillance, inescapable. You remember the comics in the Daily News? Dick Tracy's wrist radio? it'll be everywhere, the rubes'll all be begging to wear one, handcuffs of the future. Terrific. What they dream about in the Pentagon, worldwide martial law.
    "So this is where I get my paranoia from."
    "Ask your kids. Look at Metal Gear Solid - who do the terrorists kidnap? Who's Snake trying to rescue? The head of DARPA. Think about that, huh?"
    "Don't believe us, ask your friends in the FBI, you know, those kind policemen with their NCIC database? Fifty, a hundred million files? They'll confirm, I'm sure."
Thomas Pynchon BLEEDING EDGE

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