A sixth sense

Image thanks to Noel Coward Theatre

I have taken to listening to audiobooks, to while away the longer drives in my car, not that I drive that much these days. I used to cover 60,000 miles a year but now the furthest I travel, at least for work, is about 100 miles. Still, this means about an hour or more each way at the sedate pace I drive and there is only so much radio that you can listen to.

I started with a Philip Pullman book and then a couple of non fiction but I have now moved on to plays. I have always liked Russian writers, they have a way of describing life without much happening and so it was that I thought I would give Chekhov’s plays a go. The Seagull was followed by The Cherry Orchard and now I am halfway through The Three Sisters. They came as as a pack.

There is a point to this story (not just to show how pretentious I am) and it came in the second act when the conversation turned to the future.

VERSHININ. Well then. If they are not going to bring the tea, let’s at least try to philosophise.

TUZENBACH. Of course. But about what?

VERSHININ. About what? Well, let’s dream… let’s dream for example about life in the future, what it will be like after us, in two or three hundred years time.

TUZENBACH. Very well. When we are no more, people will fly around in balloons, they’ll change the style of jackets, perhaps they’ll discover a sixth sense and develop it, but life will remain more or less the same, a difficult life, full of mysteries, and sometimes it will be a happy life. 

Now nobody can predict the future and Chekhov could not foresee the advent of the airplane or the car yet in some ways he was right. Our use of technology has developed as another human sense. We are able to sense and feel and understand in ways that were impossible only a few short years ago. The play took me back to Moon Ribas’ talk at Thinking Digital 2018 and how she was merging the human with the digital. She has sensors implanted in her feet which pick up seismic vibrations and allow her to perceive earthquakes taking place anywhere on the planet. 

Chekhov was right. Technology is being used to improve the sense of our place in the world. Our digital revolution is our evolution unfolding. 

My original article can be found here.

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