Over the long Memorial Day weekend recently I had the opportunity to visit the Edison Ford Winter Estates Museum in Fort Meyers, Florida. I spent the day exploring the grounds, observing the exhibits in the museum and experiencing the hot Florida summer. Two points before I continue with this essay:
1) I specifically and purposefully avoided air conditioned spaces during my visit so as to fully understand (as much as can be possible) what life was like before the advent of modern conveniences such as air conditioning. I took the opportunity as a chance to experience what life must have been really like near the turn of the century. As I walked around the homes and observed the furnishings and other items I tried to imagine myself actually existing in that time; feeling the wicker against my body as I sat on the wicker chairs, pounding on the mechanical typewriter, cooling myself only by the weak breeze provided by the ocean. Don’t forget, electric fans were new for the era! When I visit a historical location such as this or others, I try to make use of the opportunity rather than simply look at all the ‘old-timey’ artifacts and thank God that I live in a more ‘civilized’ time. Instead, I try to imagine myself existing in that time and ask myself questions such as: would I have any trouble fitting in here? What surprises would I find that I did not expect from my 21st century perspective? What might betray my true origins or cause suspicion by someone of that era? I take part in these small mental exercises in no small part due to my interest in the time travel question. I wonder if there are others with similar interests who do the same for the same reason. And,
2) During my time at the Edison Ford Winter Estates Museum, it became blaringly obvious to me why it was called the Edison Ford Winter Estates. My God, how did they wear three piece suits in that heat?
I have commented in this space before on the existence of a System of control that appears to exist in our world now. I have also used, quite correctly I believe, the movie “The Matrix” as a metaphorical example of such a System. The subtext that is present within the movie is quite apparent to me and supports the idea that the Wachowskis were attempting to reveal the existence of the System, albeit via a movie meant to entertain overtly but educate covertly. I find the movie a perfect and apropos metaphor for the System that I return to often for my essays, as any reader of these pages can attest.
The System, while its form has likely morphed over the ages, has likely always existed. I claim no special knowledge here, only the power of dispassionate observation and intellectual honesty. Searching for an answer to the true origins of the System is as moot and meaningless as trying to ascertain when ‘Time Travel’ was first invented, regardless of what Titor claimed. What is important however is the acknowledgement that they both exist. Once you have made peace with that, a whole new world of possibilities opens to you.
To try and identify the “top” of the pyramid and lay the blame for all our woes on a King or President, we must first acknowledge that the System likely transcends those structures and probably exists largely independent of them. This is not to say that we do not feel the effects of the System in our daily lives, because we do.
“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth…”
Further, because this System has existed for a very long time, we can say that it not only exists now but it also existed in Edison and Ford’s time. Granted, the System was not nearly as all-encompassing as we can unanimously say it is now, but, for the time and relative to the people living within that System, it was enough; enough to control as much of the human condition and everyday life as was feasible at the time.
Saying that the System now is ‘stronger’ than it was before might be true in absolute terms, but by saying this, we do a disservice and fail to acknowledge that relative to the times, it was sufficient. People living within the System at the turn of the century were just as much slaves to the System as we are now.
I claim no specialized historical knowledge or insight into Edison or Ford. For all intents and purposes, they were self-made men who made their fortunes by the sweat of their brow and the keenness of their intellect. Their opportunities did not materialize through birthright much as other patricians such as Astor or Kennedy. And it matters not (for the purposes of this essay) to explore the others who existed contemporaneously with Edison and Ford; men such as Tesla. This article is not meant to favor one innovator over another nor try to claim that one inventor was ‘better’ than another. Rather, this essay is meant to explore and compare the levels of innovation possible within the System extant at the time. The dawn of the 20thcentury compared to the dawn of the 21st.
To anyone willing to be intellectually honest in their search, it becomes patently obvious (pardon the pun) that the flurry of scientific enquiry taking place in the private sector in the late 1800’s was far and above any taking place now. An easy and over-simplified explanation would posit that this was only possible because the science at the time was “easier” and required less technical acumen than what is required now. I reject this argument completely. The scientific work being done by innovators at the turn of the century was just as cutting edge then as compared to the state of the art for the time as it is now. To say otherwise completely ignores this fact.
Today, we are very nearly exactly 100 years from the foundational work done by Edison and Ford which forms the basis of our current civilization. It cannot be overstated that the technological leap between a non-electrified civilization and an electrified one is huge and could scarcely be measured in terms of how it changed humanity; both directly and indirectly. This leap was made with innovation done in the private sector and (surprisingly) within the constraints that the System imposes. How this possibly could have happened, considering the System abhors change and will kill to maintain the status quo, is beyond the scope of this article and, just as likely, beyond my perspective to comment upon. I look forward to learning more in this regard as time marches forward like any dutiful soldier.
Ford, just as Edison, also left an indelible and permanent mark upon civilization with his work. If one is to believe the propaganda (I claim no special knowledge here), it was Ford’s innovation to put a small gasoline-powered engine on a “quadricycle” which then became the precursor to the automobile. Of course, the moving assembly line production model also is attributed to Ford which changed manufacturing forever.
But now, even with this infinitesimally small piece of history acknowledged, we can compare these giant leaps in civilization to current times. For the ease that round numbers provide, it has been 100 years between ‘then’ and ‘now.’ While it might have been normal to expect further leaps in civilization-changing technologies at the turn of the 20th century, can we claim the avalanche of technological wonders radically advancing our civilization yet further as was predicted so many years ago?
Answering the rhetorical question, while there has been unquestioned advances in many sectors of human endeavor, none can hold a candle (again, please excuse the pun) to electricity or high speed personal mobility; the only exception here would undoubtedly be the advent of the interlinking of computers which eventually formed the underpinning of the Internet which we know today.
I fully acknowledge that the Internet has and will continue to be a unifying force for humanity itself and will ultimately foster the demise of the System whose existence we sometimes forget is an ever-present constraint on life. But my question, at its core is:
Where are today’s innovators introducing similarly disruptive technologies as were introduced a mere 100 years ago?
Take, for example, the internal combustion engine. While it existed in various forms in the 1800’s, it was its marriage to the “quadricycle” thus creating a “horseless carriage” that truly brought it into its own. I will acknowledge that my knowledge of the historical milestones regarding the automobile is scant at best, but I am sure we will all agree to Ford’s input here. The “horseless carriage” with a gasoline-powered engine was invented well over 100 years ago. Where is the next generation of motility? Every car on the road today is merely a minor refinement of Victorian technology!!
Is this because there simply is no better technology than an internal combustion engine averaging an efficiency of 18-20%? Yes, you read that correctly; your engine turning out 150 horsepower is still only 20% efficient at best. Why do you think an engine gets hot while it operates? Is this the best humanity can do? Is Victorian technology the very pinnacle of human achievement, thus relegating everything that came after mere refinements on a previous idea? Is there nothing new to be discovered which could represent the next step up for a technologically-oriented species such as ours?
The answer to this question is obviously no. Centers for research are making discoveries all the time. What distinguishes those researchers however is that a majority of that research is done within the inner sanctum of the System itself, funded by grants from the System and within the System’s own laboratories. This also implies that any innovations happen under the auspices and control of the System. If there were a deck of cards in this scenario, it most definitely would be stacked, and not in humanity’s favor.
In fact, considering the giant leaps that Edison, Westinghouse, Tesla, Ford and the others represented for humanity and the completely disruptive nature of these innovations to the status quo, it is completely within the realm of possibility that the System was caught completely unaware of the impending change in the status quo (civilization itself). If this were not the case, if the System knew that such disruptive innovations were in the wings, I am fairly confident in saying that the status quo would not have changed and we would instead be arguing over the proper level of Buggy Whip subsidies in the 2014 Federal Budget.
If this then is the case, is it no wonder then that modern research has been brought under the umbrella of the System and its control? He who pays the piper calls the tune.
But paying the salaries of scientists under its direct and indirect control is not enough. As it happens, it would appear the System has taken measures to ensure that it is presented with a minimum of further surprises as time marches forward. Innovation in the modern age has all but been regulated out of existence. There are any number of possible examples in this regard; for any given industry there is an administrative body regulating it with no foundation for its existence or funding found in the US Constitution. What I am saying is not necessarily new, but it does bear repeating.
Looking at the environment for innovation within the United States dispassionately, we may observe that the System has done a yeoman’s job in laying out the game board, establishing the rules and forcing into that System of control any who dare play the game of Innovation. It does not matter if the rules are written by the FDA, FCC, EPA, FAA, SEC, IRS, HHS, DOT or some other organ of the System. The System will force compliance with its rules and by violence, if necessary. Is it any wonder no replacement for the internal combustion engine has been successfully brought to market in the last one hundred years? Is it no wonder that the efficiency of the solar panels of today is artificially low?
And yet, there are those who do dare play the game. And in their strategy, they not only acknowledge that the System exists, but also refuse to play by the rules it has established. I am very encouraged by this. The first step in avoiding the System is to acknowledge that it exists and has no right to limit the endeavors of man.
Currently, there is an online movement to bring free and limitless energy to the world. The device is called a Quantum Energy Generator (QEG) and is not coincidentally based on a patent filed by Nikola Tesla many years ago, only slightly modified. So adamant the inventor is in his desire to bring energy to the world for free that he decided against patenting his new design and instead uploaded the plans for his device to the Internet, available to the world, for free. There are now numerous groups currently building QEG’s around the world. Many are being met with success in generating electricity with a co-efficient of power greater than 1.
But the inventor, James, is not so naïve to believe that he can do this without the System taking notice. While there are groups working within the U.S, James is doing the lion’s share of his research and testing outside of the United States. So cognizant of the System was he, he actually waited until he was ‘safely’ over the Pacific Ocean on his way to Taiwan before he uploaded the QEG plans to the Internet.
I ask you: Does his caution reflect the “American Dream” mythos we have all believed since childhood?
I have spoken to some of the people involved in this worldwide project. They have fully acknowledged the very stifling regulatory environment and potentially violent opposition that exists in the beginning of the 21st century in the United States. For them, there is no real intention to bring this technology to the United States at first. The very real and actual threat of confiscation by the organs of the System is so real that no real commercial attempt for the QEG device will be made within the US until the inertia of the idea is so strong elsewhere in the world as to be inevitable here.
Another Question: Does a free man fear his government? If a citizen fears reprisal and suppression, is he free or is he a slave?
Returning to my visit to the Edison Ford Winter Estates Museum last weekend, as I strolled around the properties and looked at the many inventions by Mr. Edison I could not help but feel the same anger that Titor said that he himself felt in 2000. While the apathy he noted in us 14 years ago particularly dealt with our apathy towards the protection of the freedoms and ideals enshrined in the American Constitution, that same anger could also be attributed to our allowing the System to regulate human existence to such an extent as to turn a human being into only one more cog in its vast machine.
Or, as Morpheus stated:
“What is The Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer generated dream world, built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.”
John Titor spoke in similar terms concerning our place within the System. In a chat he had with Pamela (and the only one she saved, unfortunately) he specifically spoke about the then-current System of Control in place at the time and its relationship to the population. Specifically he said,
“…Here’s a secret for you. Evil is stupid…they just have the money right now…Your enemy believes with all their heart that you are not really human. You are a means by which money flows to them after you buy their packed rubber dog !^%#* manufactured in Taiwan…Sorry.”
During my visit to the museum, I was placed into a unique position, one that I am sure our ‘time travel’ friends experience every time they are on a mission; an inherent and automatic comparing and contrasting of one time period to another.
Sure, there are the easy comparisons we can all partake in when we visit a museum or wonder what actual time travel must be like:
- Email vs. snail mail,
- Macadam vs. cobblestone streets
- Electric lights vs. gas lamps,
- Suits vs. blue jeans
- Cars vs. horses.
But there are other aspects as well that must be taken into account when traveling to another age and time. Namely, and the primary topic for this essay, what level of control is in place by the System? How does one operate within this environment? Can it be considered Permissive? Non-Permissive? Semi-Permissive? What are the technical capabilities of the System?
Simply by acknowledging that this System of Control exists in nearly any time or place a time traveler visits, any comparison he makes to his own time is inherent and automatic. When he visited our time in 2000, John Titor felt anger. Now, while this anger was likely contrived to a small extent serving an unacknowledged purpose, it did not spring forth from nothing; it yet existed within him. I will say this: As I walked the grounds of Edison’s winter home, the same inherent comparisons between 1914 and 2014 were also automatically taking place within my own mind and I felt the same anger Titor felt.
As I marveled at Edison and Ford’s abilities to bring these disruptive innovations to the world, I was forced to wonder: Would Ford or Edison (or the QEG teams) be able to introduce their disruptive innovations to the world at the beginning of the 21st century instead the 20th? It would seem that the QEG teams came to the same conclusion as I: No, neither Ford, nor Edison, Tesla or the QEG teams would reach any kind of success in bringing these technologies to the world if they played by the System’s rules.
But the QEG inventor, James (his last name escapes me at the moment) and the QEG teams also came to the same solution to this very inherent and all-encompassing constraint as I did: Simply refuse to play on the game board that the System has supplied and one completely sidesteps the limitations the System has put in place.
The System, in its attempt to establish control over every aspect of the human experience, also appears to have perverted the patent process so as to actually act as its screening process for innovations that would be disruptive to the status quo. The System depends on the human instinct of self-interest to squash, or otherwise take control of, the innovations that come to its attention through the patent process.
James decided to not accept the rules of the game which are skewed in favor of the System. Instead he completely bypassed the Patent process altogether. I am reminded of the scene in the movie “Office Space” where the main character, Peter Gibbons, simply stops playing by the rules that the System had established for him, thus leading to a much less stressful life.
As an aside, I also feel that Office Space is a very good example of a film maker acknowledging the System of control that exists in the world today albeit provided in a comedic fashion rather than a serious-minded, sci-fi modality. Mike Judge, the writer of the movie even provides a counterpoint of a person’s mentality within the System (Peter’s coworkers) and outside of it (Peter himself). Judge also notes how the current slaves within the system (Samir, Michael and his boss Bill Lumbergh) actually argue in favor of the System’s continued control, incapable to imagine a life free of the System’s influence. Bear this in mind in the real world as you declare your own independence, there will be resistance from your fellow slaves well before the System decides to react.
While this essay may generally sound as a complaint, the reader should not take it as such. It is merely an observation and not a terribly original one at that since the Wachowski Brothers and Mike Judge came to similar conclusions many years before I ever consciously acknowledged the truth.
It appears that our inner suspicions, that “splinter in your brain” as Morpheus described, that your life is not your own, is becoming more and more apparent. The further tightening of control that we are seeing in the world now has likely been the aim for the System for well over 100 (if not 1000) years; only now are we seeing the fruits of their labors and our apathies as Titor described.
Interestingly, we should remember that Titor did not describe his own time in similar terms however! It is this that I wish to bring to your attention (apologies for taking so long to get to the point). While I refuse to subscribe to a Pollyanna-ish belief that Utopia awaits us beyond the upcoming change in the status quo, I will acknowledge that Titor’s description of the freedoms he enjoyed (and had the same right to that we have now, but do not defend) were not born in a vacuum. I will wager a guess that humanity will continue with both its vices and its virtues well into the future irrespective of any status quo change and that Titor’s people still face the same demons we face in our own era.
But there appears to be a difference between Titor’s people themselves and our own. At its core, I would guess that Titor’s people fight those demons whereas we here/now have not learned (yet) that feeding the alligator with small trades of security for freedom does not forestall our own devouring. While it may be well known to some that evil exists outside the frontiers of this nation and they feel that it must be confronted, it is less well-known and accepted that that same evil resides within these borders as well.
Remember, as Morpheus said, The Matrix is everywhere. The System does not recognize arbitrary national borders. It claims the entirety of humanity as its pervue.
What could possibly change the thinking and understanding of an entire population so fundamentally as to result in a world that Titor described (however accurate it may be)?
I wager that the lesson is on its way and will shudder to the very foundations the way we thought we understood the world.