Sunday, September 7, 2014

Better than Kings of Old

Kings of old had gigantic palaces filled with priceless art. They had fortified keeps filled with men-at-arms ready to lay down their lives, provisions for months of siege or bad weather, and the decorative tombs of their forebears. They had country estates surrounded by tens of thousands of acres of private land for hiking, riding, hunting, camping, fishing, or reflection.

You have keypad entry to your two-bedroom apartment.

Kings of old had constant entertainment. At home, at health, at disease, or at war, they were accompanied by whichever singers, dancers, storytellers, or painters they wanted to have around. They could bring before themselves every type of entertainment they desired. They could repeat anything they liked whenever they wanted. They could order the creation of new forms of art and entertainment at the snaps of their fingers, and partake of, and take credit for, the end results whenever they desired. An endless parade of tumbling acrobats, impassioned oils, and deep fantasies marched before them when they gave the nod.

You have a television.

Kings of old slept whenever they felt like it. They lay on the finest handmade fabrics of their choice. They rested when they wished, ordered work done by others when they wished, withdrew from decisionmaking when they wished, and suddenly intervened in decisionmaking when they wished. They were constantly surrounded by terrified servants who leapt to make them more comfortable. They ordered ice brought from the northern lands to sit in their drinks, or be melted in their presence, to cool them. They were fanned, sponged, and admired when they felt warm. When they were cold, their rooms lit with fires and stoves, as their plump hides oozed a relaxing sweat into lush fox furs and warm, fawning concubines.

When you get home from work, you can enjoy central heating and air conditioning.

Kings of old fucked whoever and whatever they liked. They fucked wives and virgins, harlots and children. They mounted castrati and fondled prepubescent perineum. They lay back on bearskin rugs while the three prettiest underage lasses in the land payed hourly tribute to their pudgy genitals. If they wanted to marry, they could have anyone in the world except another king's daughter, and they could even have her if they were willing to pay enough. If their feet were a little bit sore, they could take a month off for hot oil massages. If the masseuse got tired, they could execute her and find another.

You have clubs and bars and match.com.

Kings of old traveled when they chose and where they chose. Wherever they went, they were greeted like royalty, and given their pick of the finest things the area had to offer, whether food, fuel, or people. They traveled atop layers of pillows in plush carriages, being fanned and coaxed and comforted and entertained along the way. When they arrived, it was the right time to arrive. When they were not there yet, everyone else was early.

You only have a few months' left of payments on your two hundred horsepower car that is now getting too old to keep considering that it has to get you to work every day.

Kings of old ate organic food prepared by hand an hour before they ate it. They ate whenever and wherever and whatever they liked. They ate as much as they liked, and threw to the dogs what they could not finish, and three hours later, feasted again. If a foreign cuisine pleased them, a master chef skilled in that art would be brought to their halls to delight their palates. They could wake up at any hour of the day or night and demand a favorite dessert from childhood, and it would be handmade from organic materials and brought to them. Sometimes, when the season was wrong, they had jarred handpicked organic preserves instead of fresh fruit.

You can buy genetically modified strawberries at any time of the year by driving to the grocery store. You can get a fast food hamburger inside of five minutes, with one of six different menu options. If you cannot pay for these things, you will starve. If you do not go to work when you have to, you will be fired. If you go, you may be fired anyway. If you cannot pay your heating bill, you will freeze inside your apartment. If you cannot pay your rent, you will freeze outside. Where you will not be watching anything on the television that isn't yours anymore.

Technology benefits everyone, as a rising tide lifts all boats. We have the sofa and the refrigerator and the colonoscopy, therefore, clearly, we have it better than kings of old.

* * *

A thousand years from now, they will tell you, "Things aren't perfect, but you have it better than technolords of old." Because, despite their billions of obscene dollars, technolords of old couldn't press a button and have their urine transported out of their bladder and to a local recycling plant. Oh, no--those poor, benighted lords of the past, like Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, had to actually walk to the bathroom and take a leak. So, as your sore-laced, cloned body is compressed into its labor cubicle upon discharge from its reproduction tube, and drugs keep you from sleeping so that you can spend the next 100 years of your planned lifespan at wakeful vigilance, constantly monitoring and repairing the potentially rebellious thoughts of the A.I. programs that run elites' virtual pleasure-lives, take pride in yourself. Take pride in your species. For you have it so much better than technolords of old. They actually had to walk to the bathroom.

2 comments:

  1. I like it. Well done. I think you forgot the food taster however. Kings always got to have a food taster.

    Sometimes I wonder if we aren't evolving backwards. This march towards progress starts to look too much like a bunch of wildebeests rushing towards the edge of a cliff with wild abandon. Then I remember, no de-evolution required, we've always been this stupid. The only thing that has really changed in human history is the genre.

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  2. And herein is one major omission: a king of old (or an average Joe) could, if they wished, and often did, turn their back to all this shit, and embark on an ascetic, and maybe enlightened, life as a hermit, or maybe roam the lands with no-good gipsies, barbarians, and bandits.

    Try to do that now with any resolution. I promise not to watch the video of the police shooting you that will surface shortly thereafter.

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