What these devices have in common is their collective ability to define the digital age. In R.F. Georgy’s, Notes from the Cave, the information age comes under attack in a monologue that brutally dissects the modern world in such a way as to force us to reconsider all our preconceived notions about science, technology, information, and the very idea of progress. In Georgy’s colorful language, “we live in an age where experts and specialists have become the prophets of our time, actors and sports players are mythological heroes, and mediocrity is a virtue.”
Notes from the Cafe is a novella patterned after Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground, where Georgy revives the Underground Man in the form of the Cafe Dweller in order to offer us a chilling commentary on the twenty-first century.
Georgy’s work is a powerful polemic against the very idea of progress. The cost of the digital age is the death of God, wisdom, and reflection. “God was killed off simply because there was no way to linguistically accommodate him. Don’t you see, gentlemen? Don’t you understand? Religion is based on the language of contemplation and reflection. The information age simply could not find a way to reconcile the simplicity of a metaphor with the endless stream of data that epitomized the twenty-first century.” Analysis replaced reflection, science replaced God, and the internet replaced wisdom. Georgy does not hold back in his attempt to reduce the digital age to irrelevant distraction.
One of the most powerful passages in the book is when Georgy takes on agnosticism. “The agnostic will demand proof before he submits to the divine order of things. What’s wrong with that, you say? I will tell you what is wrong with it. How the hell do you know what the proof should look like in order to acknowledge it as the proof you require?” Reading the above quote forced me to stop in my tracks and consider its meaning. We have always accepted the notion that extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. The burden of proof has always been placed on those who make such extraordinary claims. What Georgy has done is to invert this assumption by arguing there is a greater burden placed on the agnostic who passively waits for the proof. According to Georgy, the person demanding proof must tells us the framework of proof that is acceptable. If the framework is science, then the agnostic has to explain to us why is science the only form of acceptable proof. The agnostic must prove to us the science is the only knowledge domain capable of dealing with God’s possible proof.
In any event, once you read this book, you won’t think of the digital age in quite the same way. This compact book needs to be assigned reading at every university.