FutureTech – Now

Okay, apart from all the iPhone talk, let’s focus just on Siri now.
I just watched the ad for it, and read some live-tester comments.

And, for fuck’s sake… That’s pure SciFi. That’s the stuff that makes a future, SciFi society. The iPhone doesn’t have an AI, but… With constant internet access and the ability to adapt to your language? You’re not going to notice.

I mean, really. Just look at the ad. How the people interact with this (and by tester testimony, it seems like this is not re-touched). How the woman sets the time. And how the iPhone replies. How the guy at the start interacts with a new message and then pulls up his playlist. Oh, and the line “Text my wife I’m gonna be thirty minutes late.” spoken and executed… Send some serious geek-shivers down my spine.

Sure, the iPhone and other phones had voice-control, but this… This is something different.

This is a slice of all those things we were not promised in SciFi novels because no one thought we’d ever be connected like this. This is stuff that Shadowrun4 and Eclipse Phase started showing us. I remember in 2004, when Shadowrun4 came out, how utterly dismissive I was of Comlinks and “WiFi everywhere”. It’s now 2011. And the iPhone 4S will be a near-perfect Comlink or a non-sentient muse.

Fuck jetpacks, fuck flying cars.
We’re living in the damn future.
And I really am loving it.

Let’s talk about a spectacular and special “Cover version”.

There’s a poem by Bertold Brecht, called “Die Ballade von den Prominenten”.
I’ll append the English translation at the very end of this post.

Many of you will already know where this is going.
And you’re right. It’s Dead Can Dance time.

Dead Can Dance – How Fortunate The Man With None [Into The Labyrinth] | 1993 | Goth

“How Forunate the Man with None” is one of my most favourite songs of all times, all genres and simply… “All”.

It is a powerful ballad combining a haunting, deeply ethereal sound with Perry’s resonant voice. And all this to bring a poignant, socio-political poem by Bertold Brecht to live.
It’s a piece that defined “Being Goth” for me. And which it still does.

It all works so very perfectly.

This is a song you listen to by dimmed light (or candles, even), with the autumn air being cold outside and dear friends and wine by your side. This is a song that makes you think, makes you sink into itself. Into your own mind. This is a song/poem about mortality, change, betrayal, history, opportunism, greatness, failure and the nature of time and humanity.

It is also the song that I most associate with Mage: the Ascension. When I got the revised edition of the Mage rules (my very first WoD self-owned rules-set) in the winter of 1998, I also bought “Into the Labyrinth”. I was listening to this album when I first delved into the changed reality of the Avatar Storm and the cooling down of the Ascension War to an apparent Technocratic “victory”. I read about the new, more personal scale and scope of the game. Of lone Mages trying to keep their loved ones and their ideals and dreams alive and secure to the best of their possibility. And it was this combination that saved the game for me. On a pure intellectual level I hate many settings (and tone) changes that came with Mage Revised. But because I was able to listen to this song while reading some key chapters in the rule book, it clicked. It worked. It made me want to run a cool, sexy, dark and low-toned game of Mage. (It also made me buy all the revised Tradition Books, which I still see as one of the best decisions I ever made in my roleplaying career. They are amazing reads filled with ideas and stories to last me for ages. And even across different games. They’re like dark/gothic urban-fantasy GURPS mini-sourcebooks.)

This is also a song I strongly associate with romance and special memories. In the early 2000’s, I had some nights out with a dear and close friend, and we almost always listened to “Into The Labyrinth” and especially “How Fortunate…” when it got dark and cold at night. We weren’t lovers. We never would have worked like that. But we still had a more than simple and very special connection and friendship. We talked about everything and all the things between it. About our lives, sexuality, political and social outlooks, love, music, history and school. While sipping mead and absinthe and tea and eating food we’d always cook for each other. Sharing books and self written poems and stories, only intended for each other. It was magical in its own right…

So, yes.
This song is dear and important to me.
And I hope that you will listen to it, and find something good for yourself, too.
Because even without those memories, this is a beautiful song.

Have a good night.

“How Fortunate The Man With None”
From the play “Mother Courage”

You saw sagacious Solomon
You know what came of him,
To him complexities seemed plain.
He cursed the hour that gave birth to him
And saw that everything was vain.
How great and wise was Solomon.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s wisdom that had brought him to this state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You saw courageous Caesar next
You know what he became.
They deified him in his life
Then had him murdered just the same.
And as they raised the fatal knife
How loud he cried: you too my son!
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s courage that had brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

You heard of honest Socrates
The man who never lied:
They weren’t so grateful as you’d think
Instead the rulers fixed to have him tried
And handed him the poisoned drink.
How honest was the people’s noble son.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s honesty that brought him to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.

Here you can see respectable folk
Keeping to God’s own laws.
So far he hasn’t taken heed.
You who sit safe and warm indoors
Help to relieve our bitter need.
How virtuously we had begun.
The world however did not wait
But soon observed what followed on.
It’s fear of god that brought us to that state.
How fortunate the man with none.