The Fieldstone Review

Digital Narcosis

by Elder Gideon

“The Greek myth of Narcissus is directly concerned with a fact of human experience, as the word Narcissus indicates. It is from the Greek word narcosis or numbness. The youth Narcissus mistook his own reflection in the water for another person. This extension of himself by mirror numbed his perceptions until he became the servomechanism of his own extended or repeated image. The nymph Echo tried to win his love with fragments of his own speech, but in vain. He was numb. He had adapted to his extension of himself and had become a closed system. Now the point of this myth is the fact that men at once become fascinated by any extension of themselves in any material other than themselves….” —Marshall McLuhan. The Gadget Lover. (1964)

Echo seated on a warped boardwalk Bench but it's not the sea she sees or Peeling nickelodeons boarded up. Only her phone. Before going home To squalling tenements decades ago After sweltering factory work she could Escape for some hours. Here in a rowdy Vaudeville or dance hall to release Her body's desire for space and air Or return his glance between mixed race Couples swinging hard. No urban din Could later quell the swollen urge To hear her pant his name in the back seat Over the car radio. Whitewashed Rock music segregated souls’ roots Into vises between suburban walls. TV screens televised national vice. My Lai abroad. Riots at home. Assassinating our own. The only cultural authority Is commercialized leisure In which teenagers, entertainment Industries, parents, reformers, And government officials all jockey For position and control. We —Jacobson. (2004) Are the product now. Identities Commodified into pixelated Pools drown Narcissus. He's facedown Out of Echo’s reach some yards away Alone on his boardwalk bench. Neither look up from their phones To see each other. Nor hear The sea level rising.