Why technology makes us miserable

This is even more true than when this was written was 50 years ago, especially w.r.t. iPods, smartphones, and other silicon-based accessories.

‘Preamble to the Instructions on How To Wind a Watch’:

Think of this: When they present you with a watch they are gifting you with a tiny flowering hell, a wreath of roses, a dungeon of air. They aren’t simply wishing the watch on you, and many more, and we hope it will last you, it’s a good brand, Swiss, seventeen rubies; they aren’t just giving you this minute stonecutter which will bind you by the wrist and walk along with you. They are giving you – they don’t know it, it’s terrible that they don’t know it – they are gifting you with a new, fragile, and precarious piece of yourself, something that’s yours but not a part of your body, that you have to strap on like your body like your belt, like a tiny, furious bit of something hanging onto your wrist. They gift you with the job of having to wind it every day, an obligation to wind it, so that it goes on being a watch; they gift you with the obsession of looking into jewelry-shop windows to check the exact time, check the radio announcer, check the telephone service. They give you the gift of fear, someone will steal it from you, it’ll fall on the street and get broken. They give you the gift of your trademark and the assurance that it’s a trademark better than the others, they gift you with the impulse to compare your watch with other watches. They aren’t giving you a watch, you are the gift, they’re giving you yourself for the watch’s birthday.

Julio Cortázar, Cronopios and Famas, translated by Paul Blackburn, 1969.

Author: Mike White

Genomes, Books, and Science Fiction

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