the ghost in the machine

As we wander through the abyss that is history, we all leave our mark. We all leave something behind on our journey to somewhere else. Be it a thought, a story, an object or just a whisper, we all influence history in one way or the other.

Once, there was a miner working in coalmine somwhere in the world. His work was hard and his life had little joys besides his family. From 6 til 8, every day, every week, for years, he worked in the mines. Breaking coal from stone from coal. His fingers gripping tools made by man, carving lumps of black rock that would someday fuel someones adventure or dream. As drops of sweat fell to the floor, as his coughing could be heard in the neigbouring tunnels, his very soul stayd behind in the cave. He left, he quit his job and never returned, but his soul, or at least a very tiny fraction of it, was always there. Somewhere in his heart, he was always there. As he left this world all that remained of him was lost to us, his face, his name and his thoughts forever lost in the void of the universe. But the tiny fraction of his soul that stayed behind in the mine, it lingers on, a spirit left behind in the created constructions of man. A ghost in the machine.

The factory worker working on the model T-Ford in 1908, his name and face is forgotten by all but a few remaining relatives, but his spirit and soul, wether he wish it or not, is forever imprinted on the work that he did on the black automobile. If he polished the headlights or was responsible for tuning the gearbox doesn’t really matter, something of him was stored in that machine for all eternity. For as the machine dies, the impact it left on history, and thus our factory worker, lingers on.

The SkunkWorks engineer working on the SR-71 Blackbird, his pencil drawings dictating where the wings should bend, and exactly at what angle the tail rudder should be placed. He is remembered more for his work than the factory worker, but still, his most important mark on history is the spirit he left behind in the great blackbird. And as long as the machine is remembered, the ghosts of those who built it will remain in our cognitive memory and intelligence.

Computer programmers in the number of hundreds worked on the system on which this text was written. Alon the way, the implanted bits of themselves into the system, unknowing, unwilling or deliberate, some minute parts of their creative intelligence lingers on in thousands of systems around the world. Tiny strings of code, random or by purpose, they form unwanted behaviour, they create new or just sit there idle, they are perhaps machine in essence, but created by soul, they will always remain ghosts of their creators.

As we cross ways with inventions, creations and impossibilities throughout our journey, we leave behind something of ourselves at every waypoint. Every time our energy is focused to creation, every time we pour our creativity into something, we leave something else behind. Unnoticable, minute pieces of our will, tiny fractions of our soul, whispers of our ideas, they stay behind and inhabit our creations. Giving them life and sometimes soul themselves. Thus, we are all creators of ghosts. Thus, all creations are ghosts.

a gHost in the machine?

Angel’s wings

So this is it. April 5th 2009… will it be a date we will remember? Is this the beginning of the end? The end of the nuclear age?
Today someone expressed a simple but yet extremely difficult idea. We should all be living in a world that does not depend on defense against each other. We don’t need the extreme power of nuclear weapons on this planet. We have the force to destroy, to extinguish this world more than once. But why would we want to do that? It is crazy enough that the peace on earth is a fragile balance of who has more deathly power. It is a brave move to declare that the future should be a better one and that we can reach this better future. We all can live together without the threat of imminent destruction. Will this date be remembered as the beginning of something great? Is this the date when we come closer to the idea which Star Trek always promoted: Humans at some point learned what they can reach together, as one. And they explored the galaxy after that… Where will we go from here? Or is it just an idea, just a fantasy… a strategic move?

Time will (once again) give us the answer.

Yesterday I was at a friend’s place and he has a two year old son. Once again, I realised how sad it is that we grow up at some point. Not that a world without adults would be great, but children can laugh about simple things. They laugh when they find something funny, they cry when they feel sad, they discover new things every second and are open minded for everything. They want to know everything and they can find a completely perfect fascination in a leaf on the ground. And yet, if you look carefully, they constantly evaluate what is happening. They look at you and they can see right through your armour that you built to protect you… it is sad that we lose the ability to look at the world with kid’s eyes. Through the eyes of a child, things look different… sometimes it would be good to try and remember ourselves… I know we cannot look at things like a child anymore… but we can try…

This friend of mine is a simple man. And this I don’t mean in a judging or discriminating way. He was brought up by normal people, and he became a man with a normal job. He did not have the chance to go to school for many and many years, he never studied and today he is working in a warehouse. But he is a very clever man. He knows more than a lot of people I know and he found his own truth about the world. He is a wise man who looks at things from a very simple perspective but it is a good perspective. And he thought about many things. Yes, he has a simple job, but he does a very good job. He does it all for his family and there is nothing he would not do to support his son and his wife. We often tend to judge people about what they have and what this represents. But actually, a big car and a big house does not tell you anything about the person. They certainly reached something in life… but maybe what we see, this brilliant facade, has been created by cheating other people. Maybe their all so respective jobs are nothing than a huge trickery and their life has been built on other people’s work… When we can learn something out of this economic crisis, than, that there have been – and there still are – a lot of people who cannot be respected at all for what they do… but they can afford a Mercedes. I – for myself – prefer to have pasta with my friend who works in a warehouse… because he is a real friend with real values.

The angels have wings… maybe we don’t see them all the time, but they are here!