Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Final Solution: The Metropolis Formerly Known as New York

Prince's "Controversy" album
"Manhattan Faces a Reckoning If Working From Home Becomes the Norm,"(NYT, 5/12/20). The Cassandra-like headline hearkened the demise of New York skyline, that almost surreal vision that greets you when you drive home from the airport. The idea was that social distancing has taught us a lesson: it’s easier, cheaper and above all safer to work at home. There’s obviously some practical truth in this recognition, but will Manhattan be turned into a desolate vista of futuristic despoliation out of Mad Max? Will comic book Terminator types bound up and down deserted colossus squats taken over by vampire gangs? This all discountenances one funadamental element: socialization. Man is a social animal and work, like education, is comparable to clinical medicine to the extent that it’s based on a pragmatic approach to learning and practice. But let’s take the worst case scenario with businesses of all forms literally being propagated in computers which can produce cars by way of 3-D printing. Carrying this whole premise to its logical conclusion will people also move their homes on line, with their former apartments being replaced with a Zoom address? What about a world where the body becomes the problem and human consciousness simply exists in computers which are capable of virtual reality? Then no one will either have to make rent or mortgage payments. Remember the "Artist Formerly Known as Prince.” Will there be a "City Formerly Known as New York?"

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