virus: Re: virus-digest V3 #61

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 6 Mar 1999 12:25:19 -0500

>it's the machine that blinks "approved" that gets dinner
>bought, not so much faith on the part of the restaurant.

I understand. But, the implication is that humans do what machines tell them to becuase the machine says so. This is true...but I prefer to think of the transaction as one of mutual faith and trust between the diner, the restaurant, and the credit company.

KMO said earlier that he was somewhat uncomfortable with materialistic society...and I understand why. In a significant sense, credit has replaced faith. Think of a saying like "Give credit where credit is due" and then a saying like "Give me a little credit" and finally "cash or credit?". The meaning of that word shifts from a kind of respect due a self-responsible person to faith in a fellow human and finally to a bloodless transaction.

A way of thinking about this shift is in McLuanesque terms (equally in terms of Bruno Latour)...the medium is the message. The faith of transaction becomes so IMPLICIT that it drops out of our conscious perception. We just assume it, without need for justification...the question doesn't even occur to us to ask. It's just another part of the infrastructure you and I are so blessed to participate in. And, thus you are absolutely correct:

>it's the machine that blinks "approved" that gets dinner
>bought, not so much faith on the part of the restaurant.

But there is such a universe of meaning in such a simple many levels. The truth is deeper than a blinking light. The light is the signifier, but it represents a small facet of the vast, complex, interlocked culture. Our culture: America.

Those little things trouble me sometimes...especially when people just do what the blinking light says without thinking and, in the process, cause other people harm. At the same time, though, these things make me very proud to be a member of the most dynamic, powerful, productive society on the face of the Earth. We have so much to appreciate, and so much to offer.


  Reed Konsler