Savage Dreams

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This blog was intended to operate as a sort of reservoir for my dreams, representing that no-man’s-land beyond the levee of consciousness where the torrents of unfiltered dreamstate can spill.  Well, given a particularly stirring dream I had last night and the subsequent actions of my waking day, the game has changed a bit.

You’ll note that the name of this blog is a clever riff on one of the unanimously adored films of all time.   Clever at first, I believe there can be a new and more apropos use for this cheeky reference.  I have no reservations in calling myself a citizen of the world, and given the fact that I’ve lived outside my native USA for the last two years I think I’m approaching a level somewhere around novice when it comes to my global citizenship.  That being said, I feel compelled now more than ever to examine my actions and their consequences in this global arena.

Last night, my first back here in Nanjing after nearly five weeks, brought a nightmare.  There was no compelling reason to imagine myself as a fugitive, a criminal, some kind of killer.  Nevertheless, last night in my sleep I was all of these things.  Seemingly in accordance with the grisly landscape of my subconscious, while browsing the web today I happened upon a NYTimes photo essay about AGBOGBLOSHIE, a computer graveyard in Ghana.

Gray smoke permeates the air and litters it with toxins as foragers pick through the rubbish.  Their goal: finding precious metals such as copper, aluminum, and zinc.  This real-life wasteland is more of a nightmare landscape than the one my own mind conjured last night.  What is the connection? Last night I only dreamt I was a man on the run from the law with a price on my head.  After seeing the electronics dump in Ghana, I know I must have blood on my hands.  I fawn over my coveted computers and consumer electronics with almost religious zeal.

The soil in Agbogbloshie is lousy with lead, cadmium and other heavy metals.  Poisonous compounds.  Livestock are strewn throughout, foragers and scavengers making a living among the trash piles are teenagers.  These young people pick through the wasted husks of computer monitors in order to glean just a taste of that precious metal.

The irony? These old machines are sent to Ghana as gifts.  Used and outdated computers arrive here en masse in a humanitarian effort to close the ‘digital divide.’  They’re supposed to engender parity between the developed and developing worlds.  Some kind of progress.

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