There is something profoundly disturbing about an age that confuses the idea of progress with trivial distractions. We live in an age of Google, online games, Facebook, Instagram, smart phones, and an endless array of distractions that prevent us from reflecting upon serious issues. In Notes from the Cafe, R.F. Georgy creates a character with a unique observational perspective. The Cafe Dweller dissects the digital age in such a way as to reduce it, and all of us in the process, to mindless idiots.
Notes from the Cafe is an updated version of Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. In effect, Georgy brings back the Underground Man to pass judgment on the information age. In one of dozens of provocative quotes, the Cafe Dweller declares, “Information Paints no picture, sings no song, and writes no poem.” What Georgy is suggesting is that information destroyed the rich language of metaphor and personification. That is to say, language has been stripped of its once proud identity and reduced to bits of data necessary to accommodate the digital age.
In one of the most disturbing statements, the Cafe Dweller declares: “We have become an extension of the technology we create. Have you noticed how people text? They are oblivious to the world. Do you know that texting is making us lose the richness of language? Who the hell cares about language anymore? We have reduced language to its skeletal makeup, which is what technology requires. Do you know what the irony is, gentlemen? You would think with the information explosion currently underway that we would all be intellectual giants. Alas, we are dumber than a chicken running around with its head chopped off.”
The skeletal remains are the bits of data that we use to navigate our smart phones, laptops, the internet, and an infinite number of apps. If Dostoevsky told us that twice two is not always four, then Georgy goes further by telling us that we are the zero in the denominator of a fraction, “We are the unfortunate zero that exists in the denominator of a fraction. We are undefined, a most unfortunate occurrence, I grant you. Just as the zero can be perfectly rational and harmonious, it can also be rendered undefined and meaningless.” One might conclude this is a harsh judgment, but perhaps there is some truth to it.
The digital age has given us the delusion of progress. We today believe that we are perfectly rational beings, ready and prepared to stand atop the mountain of progress. What Georgy is reminding us of is that we are inherently irrational creatures. Georgy’s Notes from the Cafe is a densely compact intellectual examination of an age that is devoid of reflection; an age that is too distracted to know the difference between analysis and reflection.