… weeks sans heating – rant about smart devices – an offer …

I’ve not been so happy for a long time, which I’ll explain later. Following a November without heating, I was

The Poor Poet by C Spitzweg, 1839

initially cheered by a brand new boiler and enjoyed a span of blissful warmth and hot showers. Turned out the new boiler’s sensitive mechanism couldn’t cope with the system. In my young days I used to be tolerant of temperature changes. Small groups of poor students occupied large houses that had a big stove in the kitchen and coal or wood fires in individual rooms. Halls, toilets, bathrooms were freezing zones. During severe winters in    Bavaria we used hairdryers to defrost our car engines. On the upside, our car tires had spikes in them, making driving on snow and ice brilliant and safe fun.

December brought two more weeks in sub-zero conditions. Attempts to write and edit with stiff fingers continued, helped by three pair of trousers, jumpers, legwarmers, wrist warmers, winter coat and hat. In addition I frequently refilled the hot water bottle on my knees to supplement the electric heater taking the chill off my back. Concentration was difficult, nerves frazzled. Baked chestnuts and hot lemon drinks brought a little warmth to my hands.

I dealt with government agencies that give grants towards new boilers, involving subcontractors, and more subcontractors. Bless them all, but among the experts I felt like a girl serving coffee at a conference table. The situation made me immensely grateful to have a home at all.

And being me, my mind went into a spin, considering the bursts of technological innovations during my lifetime, deceptively useful, miraculous even, yet challenging, never more so when it comes to integrate old systems with oversensitive devices and their narrow applications.

A mass of data doesn’t equate with intelligence, unless used with skill, heart, intuition and imagination. Artificial neural networks aim to emulate human potential that is only just emerging, be it the psychological understanding of the self in relationships, the impact of the unconscious psyche on our lives (as explored by C G Jung,) enmity or collaboration rooted in past experience, strange attractions, genius, intuition, creativity, attitude. A flow of fresh associations reach us from spheres that hold accrued knowledge. I like Pierre Teilhard de Chardine’s concept of a self-reflective noosphere.

Whatever one may call this sphere, white noise permeates it with a new brand of global wilderness. Beleaguered hive minds resist dialogue and integration. To use a lame metaphor, as a radio needs tuning to reach a required station, so a brain needs to be free of agitation to access harmonising frequencies.

I think of the physical brains as mediator, like the motherboard of a computer, or a radio. I hope future generations will be receptive to the body and find ways to relax it, so the brain can maintain the antennae to the psychic totality of the wisdom of our collective, non-local mind-being & its guidance, and not be misled by expectations that every pesky problem in daily life can be monitored and sorted by automated devices.

 ‘Long live the dead because we live in them.’ ― Clarice Lispector – A Breath of Life

From an old postcard I can’t source

AI intrigues, yet also brings our shortcomings into sharp perspective. Humans mirror the vast intelligence of the cosmos, through myth, art, religion, the insights of seers and scientists, all encapsulating equal measures of truth and untruth. If a higher will exists it must include the collective experience of a universal psyche, including yours and mine.

I must be free to make mistakes and form perception. Neurotic people muddle through. Old cars muddle through, old washing machines, ovens, fridges and boilers muddle through all manner of obstructions and, with a little devoted attention, can be mended until they have fulfilled their purpose. Life wings through seasons of existence in this limited material world, resurrected through other forms in further life cycles. Heck; imagine your experiential persona trapped indefinitely in a robotic body whose every need is monitored and anticipated. Imagination and the potential to understand another human being would wither away, the wisdom of aeons reduced to numbers. What a dumb and spiritless existence.

‘Technology, instead of liberating us from myth, confronts us as a force of a second nature just as overwhelming as the forces of a more elementary nature in archaic times.’ – Walter Benjamin.

I like my old car. It doesn’t lock me in or out, records my whereabouts, or suddenly cuts off its engine at a red light because its programme decides to safe petrol. I like devices that can be repaired with a little thought or the occasional bang of a hammer. I like my seasoned washing machine that doesn’t tell the world where and when I’m doing my laundry.

My old boiler pushed through the sludge in my pipes and could have been made to work again, with attention to the system. My rant is NOT about the new as such, but about the general dis-empowering trend that sells us short and prevents recycling of perfectly repairable items.

Each day we navigate unpredictable situations and complex problems. We feel the joy and pain of organisms, creatures, people, and often our reason is clouded by our passion. If only children were taught about emotional intelligence early on. Yet industries decree that trusting humans is risky, dangerous, and uneconomical. The story begins to resemble Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. Not worth a thought of course, because Shelley was a woman.

Jeanette Winterson expresses similar thoughts more poignantly in a lecture she gave in Holland … Super intelligence could conclude that all mankind is a waste of space and resources. Check for a translate button on the site. I thank my Dutch friend, Kitty, for sharing this link on FB.

Yesterday I had brilliant news. A couple of competent plumbers took up some floorboards and, with impressive intuition, and skill, solved the problem. My new boiler is at peace with the old system.

Happy & warm, I want to share my pleasure with a festive offer on Course of Mirrors:

The paperback will be half price for a limited period on this Troubadour page

In addition, the e-book will be 99 pence on most platforms up to the 2nd January 2018

In case you enjoyed reading my magical novel, you may consider leaving a short comment on the above Troubador site (no signing in required) and Amazon, where it apparently boosts sales, which would be wonderful.

I’m wishing all my readers peaceful festive days and a blessed New Year.


Filed under Blog

18 responses to “… weeks sans heating – rant about smart devices – an offer …

  1. Very persuasive analogies! Commiserations and now compliments!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. My heart goes out to you for dealing with the transition from cold to warm and antiques to modern. I frankly am an antique and prefer the ‘old ways’ as they are much easier for me to deal with and understand. My son has an extremely modern house and it drives me crazy, when I visit, trying to operate his world. Star Wars is approaching! Congratulations on surviving the lack of communication from old to modern… YET winning!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As always – informative, erudite, witty and inspiring! And please stay warm! Dxx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rob Leech

    Hi Ashen
    Well said! I guess most of us have similar experiences with new technology which often seems to be produced in order to conjur a “need” into existence rather than fulfill one which already exists; the drive for profit being the major motivator.
    Computers of course are a ubiquitous source of this kind of consumer experience and the one I have most lately encountered, having purchased a new laptop with Windows 10 as the incumbent operating system. It’s classic “feature-rich rubbish” with all kinds of twaddle that I’ll never use and lots of goads to purchase more Microsoft apps.
    Then I had trouble with my anti-virus program which is trying to “manage” my computer for me, thereby periodically freezing the screen, as if it’s constant inane and paranoid pop ups weren’t enough!

    Any way all problems under control, for now at least….I got rid of the antivirus (AVG). I have 3 programmer friends who tell me that most anti-virus software is a con and that Windows Defender is as good as anything. I was OK for years without anything extra until I somehow allowed myself to be persuaded to get one. Good riddance!

    Good to hear you solved your heating problem using real intelligence….as distinct from the artificial variety!

    Go well


    Liked by 2 people

    • Huh, sorry you fell into the trap of Windows 10. I escaped the endlessly bullying Windows messages with the kind help of a local tech angel. It’s scary how dependent we have become on computers, like second brains.

      And yes, I have a warm house again, to welcome guest in 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Three cheers for the plumbers!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been very impressive. Intuitive and experienced craft people are rare. I asked which houses plumbers preferred to work in, old or new? I was surprised by the answer. apparently new built houses are a nightmare for them. Plastic pipes are needled through fiberboard, which splinters if you need to remove it. Didn’t know that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just love your writings, Ashen. Have a Happy warm Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The thin sparkling line of AI is rather like a sushi train.
    I find it weird we spend most of our time developing things which need an associated energy source. Wind farms, solar farms, uranium farms, coal pits.
    Our shiny new things “Still” generate the same crazy arguments.
    I dig consumerism because it keeps millions of people in jobs and makes society almost polite, but the continual development of energy reliant monsters that are thrown away after the tiny crystal inside the mother board decides to dislike a speck of dust, is unbearable.
    A washing machine and a telephone which do their jobs, last as long as we want and recycle into a new item, can’t be that hard.
    Your plumbers must have been refreshingly efficient Ashen after such a terrible run of difficult months. KEEP THEM!
    Happy Christmas Ashen and thankyou for the wonderful posts.B

    Liked by 1 person

    • A rotating sushi train 🙂 watching the parcels roll by makes one feel hungry even if one isn’t. Our surreal Zeitgeist.
      Love your visits and comments here. Thank you.
      Wishing you and yours a lovely festive time, and best things for 2018


  8. Technology is useful and that’s all it should be, and not relied on for everything. I use technology for work and my students use it as well. My concern is how much children today use technology to be entertained, educated etc. I am not sure this is a good thing. There a positives to technology but I think we also need to be more conscious of our own mental development.
    Have a Merry Christmas Ashen, and keep warm!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. A magical Christmas to you and yours, Luciana.
    Re: technology. I recall when my son was 16 or so, during the mid-nineties, saying: ‘Those 12 year old kids are living on another planet.’
    He didn’t grow up bonded to a mobile.


  10. myrelar

    Unfortunately, future generations will not even have a body, they will have computers, they will be able to choose between immortality or longevity.

    Liked by 1 person

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