The Devil

Matthew Hutson, English 111, Brown University (1998)

If digital technology gives us the power to build cathedrals and invent gods, then it doubtless gives us the parallel ability to invent demons. Sven Birkets warns of this danger in his The Gutenberg Elegies:

Yes, I've been to the crossroads and I've met the devil, and he's sleek and confident, ever so much more `with it' than the nearest archangel. He is casual and irreverent, wears jeans and running shoes and maybe even an earring, and the pointed prong of his tail is artfully concealed. Slippery fellow. He is the sorcerer of the binary order, jacking in and out of terminals, booting up, flaming, commanding vast systems and networks with an ease that steals my breath away. (211)

. . . The devil no longer moves about on cloven hooves, reeking of brimstone. He is an affable, efficient fellow. He claims to want to help us all along to a brighter, easier future, and his sales pitch is very smooth. I was, as the old song goes, almost persuaded. (229)

Ironically, our cybersavior Kai Krause seems to respond directly to Birkits during an independent interview with Ralph Lombreglia: "It's hard to understand why some people would feel that those same old analog signals turned into digital numbers would represent some evil empire, as if the digital numbers were all 6's . . . hmmm."


Analogue/Digital OV Cyberspace OV InfoTech