Clouds Have Bodies Too
My life feels increasingly virtual. I was a toddler in the Dark Ages, i.e. the late 20th century, when there were still black-and-white tube TVs, phones with tangled plastic chords and manual typewriters. I grew up with vinyl records and cassette decks, rejoiced when we bought a color TV and I adored my mom’s hand-me-down electric typewriter. This old me lived in the technological stone ages. I spent money I didn’t have on film for my camera, and when I was twenty-eight I splurged on an $800 video camera. My brother and I loved making home grown music videos. Like two cave dwellers, we eagerly strapped headphones (plugged into a portable cassette player) to the camera in order to provide a soundtrack to scenes we shot in the wild. Not being able to afford professional editing equipment, we improvised some messy and time-consuming method involving video cassette tapes I’ve thankfully succeeded in blocking from my memory.
Fast forward to 2012… I mean, just click on it, or touch it. I spend most of the day looking at a screen that takes a myriad of forms—my large computer monitor (sleek and thin now, no big plastic butt), our huge flat screen HD and 3D capable TV with surround sound, my iPod, my cellphone, my Galaxy Tab and, of course, my beloved Kindles (to date I own three, one of which is already an antique). Having lived through the ponderous age of floppy drives (I was forced to retype several novels that became forever trapped in those big papery discs which thankfully came and went seemingly overnight) I’m rather like Scarlet O’Hara clutching her carrot and vowing never to lose any files ever again. Now my larder consists of flash drives, external terabyte drives, CD’s and DVD’s, as well as a laser printer and spiral binders filled with paper that are as heavy as blocks of wood. How quaintly old-fashioned and environmentally unfriendly of me you might think. Perhaps, but my ego’s artifacts are also safely and weightlessly stored in more than one Cloud.
All the precious pieces of my self, which is always growing, are instantly accessible from almost anywhere. As long as I have some form of electronic device on me, of course. My Galaxy Tab or iPod are two of the different material bodies into which I have the power to download my electronic soul, which appears to exist in a non-physical, divinely convenient dimension free of annoyingly destructive events such as house fires. But it doesn’t, not really. Clouds have bodies too, massive complexes of huge buildings filled with computers and processors and everything else that makes this magic possible. While technologically we might feel ourselves achieving the mystical Body of Light, the fact is we still have “bodies” exponentially larger and more powerful than dinosaurs.
When I lucid dream or have an OBE, I remember I still have a physical body. It’s easy to forget that our stimulating and highly addictive virtual lives are equally anchored to miles and miles of material substances through which flow the lifeblood of electricity produced by power grids that rely on fuel, the dark remains of ages long past. We are vulnerable as ever. Only now should something happen to storage Clouds, thousands, millions of people will feel the loss, together. Our individual souls are coexisting inside the “bodies” of compounds filled with the veins of electrical wiring, the organs of computers, metal nerve ends and the synapses of memory boards and chips—embodiments of Jung’s collective unconscious.
I happen to think all of this is a good thing. Feeling conceptually and creatively empowered is a great thing. Being able to, in a matter of seconds, download music to listen to in bed or a book to read almost anywhere is a life-enhancing beautiful thing. Our selfish pleasures are easier to indulge than ever, and yet we’re less isolated, more aware of what’s happening with people all over the world in real time, becoming, feeling compassionately connected, all of us going out of body every day and meeting in a “place” where ideas flow freely. In the heart of the Web’s corporeal cells, lights flash and twinkle like earthbound constellations where we mingle, ideally dreaming up a better future in which 2012 will be remembered as the dark ages.