Return of the Sun God

PHOTO: Ivanpah solar electric
generating system (2.08.2014)

At last a megamachine had become possible that would need, once organized, a minimum of detailed human participation and coordination. From the sixteenth century on the secret of the megamachine was slowly rediscovered. In a series of empirical fumblings and improvisations, with little sense of the ultimate end toward which society was moving, that great mechanical Leviathan was fished up out of the depths of human history. The expansion of the megamachine ⎯ its kingdom, its power, its glory ⎯ now became progressively the chief end, or at least the fixed obsession, of Western society. The machine, “advanced” thinkers began to hold, not merely served as the ideal model for explaining and eventually controlling all organic activities, but its wholesale fabrication and its continued improvement were what alone could give meaning to human existence.

Within a century or two, the ideological fabric that supported the ancient megamachine had been reconstructed on a new and improved model. Power, speed, motion, standardization, mass production, quantification, regimentation, precision, uniformity, astronomical regularity, control, above all control ⎯ these now became the passwords of modern society in the new Western style.

Only one thing was needed to assemble and polarize all the new components of the megamachine: the birth of the SUN GOD. And here in the sixteenth century, with Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and Nicolaus Copernicus officiating as accoucheurs, the new SUN GOD was born.

⎯ Lewis Mumford,
(March 1, 1966)

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