This is pause-for-thought-time. Time for a breather. A moment to stop and think about becoming an unbeliever. And no, this isn't poetry. It is a plea for breath. Mark Rothko, that successful suicide of 1970 described this moment as a chance to stand in the light, take in the lungs-full of air, stretch out one's arms as in the manner of a crucifix and inhale. To stop, basically. To get off the climbing-frame and feel the firmness of the earth underfoot. And for those who have never heard of Mark Rothko, do not be ashamed, or feel deprived. But anyhow, he was a famous Russian/American import, abstract-expressionist by profession, mystic-man by temperament. Became wildly successful with his panoramic skeins of painted canvas in the late 1940s and 50s. Everyone wanted a part of him while he was in his prime. Everyone clamoured for a signature work to hang on their Manhattan wall. Everyone wanted to boast and brag about their slice of the Mark Rothko pie. Especially the greedy and unscrupulous dealers. They were the worst. They were the ones to keep an eye on. Sadly, though, old and battered alcoholic that he became as his star waned, Mr. Mark Rothko didn't have his eye on the artistic ball any longer. Maybe it was a lack of interest or an absence of trust. Whatever. In the end it was a sorry tale and a bloody denouement. An old tale, too. In an outsize studio at dawn, a keen razor across the inside of the elbow. Another tired man - an artist too weary of the world and himself - gone. Gone into the ether of future memory, like a distant shadow. But I remember him.
But forgive me my Mark Rothko moment. Forgive the maudlin theme. But I had to mention old Mark in order to raise an issue, or a concern. And it is this : it is the worry that the mystery has gone, or rather, faded out. The need for mystery has been replaced by the need, the demand, the outraged scream for truth. The Googling kind. The snap-your-fingers-and-it-is-there kind. The shout-and-all-will-be-revealed Alexa kind. Let's all beat the drum for authentic truth, then. Get involved in the quest for unmodulated explanation. Switch off, plug in, download. Engage with the zeitgeist of today. Question, delve, dissect, demand, enrol, sign-up, hold your breath. And above all, go with it without intellectual reservation, because the important thing to remember is that the question is all. The question is God. And woe-betide anyone who dares to question the need for the quest in the first place. No, no, no, no, no and NO. That will never do. What dream is that of freedom? Sounds more than a bit like heresy to me. Sounds, in fact, like terminal denial. Not the sort of thing to be encouraged, not now. Now is enlightenment, ably facilitated for the confused by the miracle of technology. Ah.... technology. Even the sound of the word is a salve for the troubled soul, isn't it? A comfort in a world full of troubles, troubles, troubles. A sticking-plaster for the heart and mind. And what of it that no-one wants the old heroes any longer? Why be concerned that Churchill is being openly dissected like some diseased and infectious cadaver, his corpse dumped into the trash-bin of unwanted history, or that nobody under the age of thirty five knows who J M W Turner was and what he meant, or means? No matter, my friends. Sleep the sleep of the soothed. All will be well in this world of outsourced explanation. The fingertip rules the world and you are invited to the party. Bring your own bottle.
The thing is, I don't want to go. To the party, that is. Not that I am against merriment of the 21st century variety. I can click a mouse with the best of them. Many a happy hour have I spent with my good companion Wikipedia, browsing, disseminating obscure facts, seeking out arcane explanation, searching for.... what? Worth? A place in the world without mystery? An ultimatum I can embrace? A moment when I can sit down and fire off the party-poppers? Share a drink or two with my fellow web-designers, settle into life, accept and let out that big, ultimate last sigh, safe in the knowledge that everything is ok? Because that's what we all want, right? Undiluted truth, Undiluted drinks. Undiluted, haze-free lives. What a wonderful party. No gatecrashers in sight to the far horizon. Full speed ahead and plain sailing. And no need for a hangover cure in the morning. Maybe just a hair-of-the-dog mid-afternoon. More of the same, please and don't overdo the ice. That's the way. That's what we want. That's the ticket to Utopia we've been told about.
So, what do you see when you see the cloud? Moving, drifting, expanding, contracting? It's all there. But do you see it? If the answer is yes, try to quantify your response. Do you really see it? Is it something that resonates in the mind and makes the heart flutter, or miss it's beat? Will you remember it tomorrow as you hunker down over your desk and wait for the next algorithm? Will it haunt your quiet moments, as it should? As you drain the dregs of your next Starbucks, safe in the knowledge that there will always be another Starbucks and possibly even another one after that (are we not truly blessed?), Will you wonder about stillness, or what it means? Perhaps you will. Perhaps you can, and if so, hold the thought. If you aren't able to stop what you are doing occasionally and just listen, don't beat yourself up too much. You are in good company. The machine rolls on, cloud or no cloud. And who needs mystery anyway when we already have all the answers?
A place of endless wonder without dragons. The home of the dodgy dialectic. A sanctuary for the frustrated and the terminally curious. Where debate meets damnation and humour lurks to surprise the unwary. From critical acclaim to diatribe. Don't be scared - come along for the ride.