The ghost is the machine By Subashini Navaratnam

The ghost is the machine

After centuries of wage labour and wars, the destruction was complete.
This is how civilisation achieved its telos, smug: people in pieces
picking themselves up, piece by piece. The future apparatus are made
in the image of their deities. Dead factory lines, corpses under the rubble
of construction sites. An arm in the riverbed, a foot under the bridge.
A torso in the desert. A rounded head in the highlands: silent, watchful,
reticent like a statue. Collateral damage: spare parts. The workers of the world
stitched themselves up with the pieces of their comrades, united. They swam in the
slow-moving seas of waste and goods, bobbed up and down in the fruits of their labour.
The detritus of production are self-sustaining, self-directing, watchful, and alert.
Joined to arms and heads, the chips beeped, emitted data, transmitted light.
A row of melancholy devices, they moved slowly, orienting themselves to
a wasteland, a sea of rocks and pulsing fragments of their friends and lovers.
Now that the dead have arisen, vampire-like, as labouring machines: it’s fine
to admire the art of it. The beauty of staying alive is the aesthetics of the future.
The mechanics of it can overwhelm, but don’t overthink it. In becoming
god, creator of all things, just remember what it was like to be fallen, and fallible.

By Subashini Navaratnam


Subashini Navaratnam lives in Selangor, Malaysia and has published poetry and prose in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Mascara Literary Review, Poetika Malaysia, Aesthetix, Sein und Werden, minor literature[s], Anak Sastra, and Jaggery. Her writings on books have appeared in The Star (Malaysia), Pop Matters, 3:AM Magazine and Full Stop and she has published nonfiction in MPH’s anthology, Sini Sana and Buku Fixi’s ebook, Semangkuk INTERLOK as well as fiction in KL Noir: Yellow. She tweets at @SubaBat.

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