Nancy Ames

Calgary, Canada

I am a Canadian, originally from Ontario, and am now living in Calgary, Alberta. I have been writing for over 30 years and performed my...

Extracts from my reading IX

John D. MacDonald, “The Dreadful Lemon Sky”, 1974

Tonight I was too aware of the world around me. I was a dot on the Waterway chart between the small islands. Above me starlight hit the deck after traveling for years, and for trillions of miles. Under the hull, in the ooze and sand and grass of the bottom, small creatures were gagging and strangling on the excreta of civilization. The farthest stars had moved so much since the starlight left them that the long path of light was curved. After the planet was cindered, totally barren of life, that cold starlight would still be taking the long curved path down to bound off black frozen stone. Ripples slapped the hull. I heard a big cruiser go barreling down the Waterway, piloted by some idiot racing to keep his inevitable appointment with floating palm bole or oil drum. Long minutes after the sound had faded, his wash tipped the Flush, creaked the lines, clinked something or other in the galley. It disturbed a night bird, which rose from one of the islands, making a single horrid strangled croak. Far off on the north-south highways there was the insect sound of fast-moving trucks, whining toward warehouses, laden with emergency rush orders of plastic animals, roach tablets, eye shadow, ashtrays, toilet brushes, pottery crocodiles, and all the other items essential to a constantly increasing GNP.

My heart made a slow, solemn ka-thudding sound, and the busy blood raced around nourishing, repairing, slaying invaders, and carrying secretions. My unruly memory went stumbling and tumbling down the black corridors, through the doors I try to keep closed. A trickle of sweat ran along my throat and I pushed the single sheet off.

Malcolm Muggeridge, “Tread Softly For You Tread On My Jokes”, 1966

The basic egghead fallacy, the fallacy of liberalism which makes it in practice so destructive a force, is, it seems to me, that it implies the possibility of achieving imaginative ends by the exercise of the will. Actually, these two – the will and the imagination, or, to put it another way, power and love – are in conflict. They pull in opposite directions and cannot, without the most disastrous consequences, be harnessed together. If the operations of the will are judged in terms of the imagination, the judgement must necessarily be false. Nonetheless, it is the fate of the egghead to attempt this impossible feat. He buys every gold brick because, imaginatively, its glitter is convincing. When however, he goes to sell it he finds it is worthless. And quite often he has it thrown at his head for his pains.


Richard Brautigan, in “The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster”, 1968

All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labours
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

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