When I was 17 I read Arthur Koestler’s ‘Ghost in the machine’ (1967). I didn’t understand half of the book, but it still left a big impression.Taking the relationship between mind and body as a starting point, Koestler tries to explain why people have a tendency towards (self-)destruction. According to him it all boils down to evolution; the younger parts of our brain are built upon older and more primitive brain structures. Communication between younger and older parts of the brain is generally poor, creating a rich potential for conflict, both within a single human being and in his or her relationship with others. It all makes a lot of sense to me now, but as a 17-year-old I didn’t really get it. Still, the book made me:
- decide to study psychology, almost a year later; and
- buy and read ‘Darkness at noon’ (Koestler, 1940), a powerful account of Stalinist terror, effectively ending my flirt with communism.
Around the same time House Music entered the scene. I missed it initially, or actually I failed to see its relevance and how these early house pioneers were influenced by and connected to Krautrock, Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. All I heard was music from a box, and being a musical terrorist with my own set of commandments I only accepted:
- Music being played on real instruments
- Music with lyrics
- Music made by a band, not someone turning knobs or pressing buttons
- Music with a purpose, a desire, something to achieve (I might have left communism behind but I was still under the spell of The Clash)
All of this (and more) gradually began to fill my mind when a couple of days ago my Ipod (on shuffle) suddenly played the following sequence of songs:
That was a clear answer, a little signal from outer space, a token of life. It brought memories back to life and ended the debate: there is a ghost in the machine and machines have feelings too. I can ignore it, but that doesn’t make it go away. I love my machines, and sometimes my machines…love me. That’s all I need to know.