From smart city to smart village, and back

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An unexpected journey

From smart city to smart village, and back

From smart city to smart village, and back

From smart city to smart village, and back

From smart city to smart village, and back

I step into the self-driving smart-taxi, which arrived punctually. In advance I’ll pay for a few years of travel - the destination is irrelevant, whereas the amount of time is crucial in all transactions - by using my smartphone and by withdrawing my savings from my smart-account, secured in the most crypto-dark corners of the Internet, in virtual places where no one goes anymore, apart from professional programmers or hackers. So here begins my journey from Smartville to... where? It hardly matters. Travelling is all I care for. During the journey I automatically take advantage of the smart-opportunities that appear on the screen and in my earphones: I buy a smart-home, rent a smart-office, hang out with smart-friends, and even have a smart-wife with smart-children, some delivered, others booked. A while ago, I can’t remember exactly when, I was upgraded .to the Premium package: the one featuring smart-lovers and other unmentionable smart-follies. This was fun. But I am lazy. Or rather, I have a combination of complacency and idleness. I remain motionless in these sophisticated digital rituals with colonial overtones, seduced by the voice of a young Indian woman who talks to me from a Tech City call center, remaining always less surprised that she understands my every preference instantly. The smart-taxi races through the night. Suddenly, the voice of my idleness changes, at precisely when my faculties of psycho-immuno-resistance are at their most sleep-deprived: a firm, low, warm, manly voice promises a little bit of daily happiness. That is exactly what it says: «daily happiness». Here we are far beyond the commercial propositions of the girl from Tech City. We are, dare I say it, in the realm of metaphysical marketing. Instantly the offer crystallizes into a contract fit for my IQ level, terms and conditions are familiar to me - even though I’ve never read them - I instinctively accept. I get by with a retinal scan, I need not understand, because everything is pointlessly governed by privacy regulation, legal contraptions, and Human Rights. I receive a pair of smart-glasses (From whom? There is no one in the cab but me) and through them I move to my new smart-villa on the cliff where I meet people who correspond exactly to my most profound worldly desires and tastes, those that one dare not even confide to oneself. From the bright director of a Natural History Museum to a captivating polyglot Oriental musician. The smart-wife to be included in the CV is now only the memory of a function, and so are the smart-lovers. I find myself immersed in the most uncontrolled intellectual and cognitive pleasure, and suddenly there are only people who put me in a good mood and think exactly as I think it is magnificent to think. I am in the Athens of Socrates, in the Florence of the Medici, in the Vienna of Adolf Loos. I am on the crest of a wave from which I gaze at the universe. Just do not remove the smart- glasses, not even when sleeping, because through them dreams are recorded and the information that is derived from them are distilled in a process as amazing as it is secret.

Off-line

Upon waking up one morning out of what feels like a dream, I find myself in a smart-shelter in the heart of the Alps. The longing to step outside, naked, to draw in a breath of fresh air from which every pore is filled is immediately powerful. It is truly irresistible, since it comes from an exhausted body that the designer drugs can no longer invigorate. I head out towards the trails. The air is like a craftsman’s manual working a soft mass to create a new - and ancient - human being. It drizzles over my skin. Taking off my smart-glasses after waking up and for no known reasonhas led me to do a less than intelligent thing: I am naked in the rain, my feet are soiled: it’s the most sublime and sensual experience of any existence. It occurs to me: though some «impromptu» movements are accurately calculated in the Daily Happiness Program, I was truly lost this time. It was impossible for the Program to predict that in a single day I would walk so long, in the pouring rain, crossing mountains, until I reached a village that is inhabited by people of all ages. I had not seen old people and children in a long time, nor was their absence surprising. I find myself in a camp of wooden buildings with shaded colors, the destination point of a convoy of existences - brief, long, sour, weary, cheerful - which, by some whim of fate, have fallen out of the Daily Happiness Program, or else have followed it all the way to the end. The village uses a bio-ecological, bio-mimetic and bio-vanishing insulation foam that hardens in contact with the mountain sky. Construction is done with hidden pumps which inject imaginative housing into reality. Clothes always fly here, they can be washed and dried in the wind. Without any obligation I wear them and smile, since they are a set of bio-molecules that lay on the threshold of my life, on my skin. The most sensual my pores have ever enjoyed. A school is being built. Spaces, up here in the village, emerge from the deeds of secular alchemists: melodically welcoming places of life, each distinct, unusual, unique and beautiful, and unforeseen. They do not follow familiar lines: they are embracing, accommodating. And radiant when I want them to be. Here, the eyes and the mind are entertained like those of a child. The contours of a drawing that almost frightened me in my former life now become emotions that gradually structure themselves into joy. I am satisfied: I forget about the technology that I sense is used in this world, which is natural to the extent that its denizens forget that they are artificial. A kind of technology that no longer reminds us of a deus ex machina, but rather of a gift. Thus, the buildings sprout from the soil where they are planted, growing wrapped in the vegetation, and that which previously used to resemble a village in Eden now evokes a city whose dimensions disappear into infinity. I drift along a line of sleek, opaque buildings nestled tightly on top of the clouds. Mankind has always built on clouds. Technologies have only been a long process of self-awareness: a ladder that you dispose of after climbing. In this village, the available tools implement skills exactly where the healthiest fish are caught and the sharks are left alone. I keep walking in this increasingly familiar place. I treat myself to the freshest products growing among the roots of this sincere land. I fill the bottomless pockets of my clothes made of air and joy with handfuls of small, round, indigo-colored fruits. Sunbeams caress my hands. But the light rain suddenly stops. A smart-taxi materializes next to me. It’s time to go back to Smartville, where, I am told, I am expected to share my experience. I get into the smart-taxi, which deposits me in the middle of a party where all the people are curious to know where I have been. In their gazes I detect that peculiar and sterile interest spawned by centuries of boredom, disguised so well as a selective affinity. The Daily Happiness Program is really too perfect for me. I can’t stand it. I wipe the perspiration from my forehead, grab a whisky from the waiter’s tray, and with my glass walk towards the bathroom. In front of the mirror I put my hand in my pocket, my fingertips touch small, soft, round spheres: they are indigo-colored fruits. There is also a note, folded in four, on which before leaving I had written the verses of a poet: «If I don’t come home, I want you to know that I never left. My travels have all been staying right here, where I never was».

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