Day 103: Farm and reading

05/07/2020

Day 103

While removing the weeds on the farm this morning I was struck by the burst of life that accompanies rain and the diversity of it. It is a fascinating world if exploring this diversity is appealing for a person. There is enormous beauty in watching the variety of flora and fauna in a landscape. Around the farm, the ringing of bells tied around cows and goats, has become a constant presence. 

Visits to farm have to be arranged in the weekly routine. There are a couple of streams of work which take the weekdays, especially afternoon onward. So, it is often weekends or days with no work calls scheduled, that are taken on the farm, with packed lunch and a list of on-farm activities. On organizing daily routine and handling multiple streams of work, I was reading Mark Andreessen’s interview. On what motivates him to go read up on a new topic every day, he has an interesting response: 

I am a deep believer in – after learning a lot over the years about economic history and of cultural history – that technology really is the driver. There were basically millennia of just subsistence farming industry and all of a sudden, there was this vertical takeoff a few hundred years ago. And quality of life exploded around the world. Not evenly but starting in Europe and expanding out. It’s basically all technology. It’s always the printing press, it’s the internet and on and on. And you get this incredible upward trajectory. We have the potential over the course of the next century or over the next few centuries to really dramatically advance and have life be better for virtually everybody. Technology is quite literally the lever for being able to take natural resources and able to make something better out of them

The amount of faith he puts in technology is striking. In a limited sense, I agree with him on the game changing and often life altering impact of technology. However, I would be cautious in seeing it as the overriding force of all progress in a society. There seems to be a point at which for most individuals it does not matter whether technology has an answer for a need or not. This deep technological determinism is partly the problem we see with our attitudes and life outcomes in these times. 

Two other readings that were worth a thought:  

  1. Chandan Gowda writes about the need of a forum for farmers’ welfare . The problem with his idea of a forum is pretty much the same set of characteristics he observed in them not being a monolith community: 

Farmers, of course, are not a monolith community: some of them are landed and some landless; some own large-sized holdings and some small ones; some have dry land and some have access to irrigated water; some grow cash crops and some food crops; some some are upper caste and some lower. Internal differences like these, however, do not preclude the pursuit of a common maximum programme for farmers.

The diversity of farmers in terms of their cultural, social, economic as well as literacy is very high for a common forum to attempt being a collective voice. 

  1. Roul Peck’s article on Baldwin: He is right in calling Baldwin’s words as ‘painful’ and ‘powerful’. Reading Baldwin, I often wonder about his state of mind while writing. What source does he tap into, to not let his angst get the better of him. 

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