Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

11 February 2010

Planned Obsolescence

It makes only sense that Makropoulos should use a Macintosh.  The other day, I went to turn on my iBook G4, and was writing away when the screen went blank.

Now some might call this their trusty old friend, but honestly, it's only four years old.  When you've lived as long as I have, four years is equivalent of the amount of time it takes to squeeze a pimple.

I remember when I brought the thing: I was very proud and excited.  This world of computers has long struck me as a esthetically very functional, until I really started paying attention to Macs.  I mean, let's consider it, now: as I've said here already somewhere, and countless others have observed, every new advancement in technology has served to extend some part of the human body, and the computer is the extension of our brain.  We don't think much about what our brains look like; luckily they're stored within heads, which, for the most part, are pleasant to look at.  If we were to walk around with exposed brains, we would find a way to adorn them.   Of course, if our brains were exposed, they might even become yet another measure of our appeal, or even our sexual prowess, so we may find ways to make them look extraordinarily erotic.  Glitter, perhaps, or fishnet coverings.

But I digress.

Computers, as I say, are extensions of our brains; they are our brains made visible.  Until fairly recently, the only computer company that made any attempt to make the brain sexy was Macintosh.  So of course I had to have one.

When I got it, I had to pay over a period of time, a practice that makes me very uneasy.  I was raised in an era in which if you couldn't pay on the spot, or trade something for your desired object, then you couldn't have it.  The world was a much happier place then, and most people, for the most part, had what they needed and were happy with it.  But I paid for my Macintosh over a year's time.  The saleswoman said I could even do it over two year's time, and I just shook my head.  She continued: "and then you'll be getting another."  As if that was expected.

So I have stubbornly resisted the planned obsolescence of my iBook, until this morning.  Of course, in the meantime, I went and got another Mac - a Mac Mini, which I attached to my un-Mac TV, and than of course my iPod, and then my iPhone, not necessarily acquired in that order.  Macs are a bit like M&M's - you can't eat just one.

When the iBook took a dive, though, I began to come to terms with the fact it was literally built to do that.  Indeed, all really high technology is built to be obsolete, because designers who design high technology know that in a few years, they'll come up with a better model, and this one will be passe.  And whoever buys high technology will no doubt want to the newer one in a few years.  And I guess it's true; I do.

Strangely, the same day my Mac began to sputter, so too did a part of my body.  After all these centuries, I detect that there may be something in my body that is tiring, something that is longing to be part of a newer model.

It was not my legs, which are divine, nor was it my lips, which out lip the most botoxed of beauties.  It was not my breasts, which aren't too big, or too small; it was not my eyes, which still make men cry.  And it wasn't my hair, which is still a lovely golden shade, or my teeth, which have never seen a scrap of metal to straighten them.  No, these things are just as they have always been, to a point where they really bore me. 

No, it was nothing visible that gave me a reminder of the fact that perhaps even I would become obsolete.

It was my heart.  Such a poorly planned organ, with such a huge job.  It is the motor to the machine we all travel in.  And it is also the physical seat of our emotions, of our love.

To hold our love in such a fleshy thing is just absurd.  Because love is so large, and hearts are only tissue.

Planned obsolescence.

I look forward to seeing, and knowing, what the next better model will be for the human heart; the model that will be able to hold love, even through the most tumultuous times.  But even that will be designed with one eye towards the fact that there will be a better model, still, in four more years. 

I wonder if Apple will design it, that new heart.   Perhaps it will be a piece of technology, programmed to love on command.  And not remember, and not hurt.  That might be far more efficient than the current state of affairs.

For now, I'll start thinking about getting a new MacBook, though I really can't afford one right now.  Like this old heart, I'll see how long I can make the iBook endure.

I need it to work for me, a little while longer.

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