Maria Terrone’s poem “A Hologram State of Mind” appears in our Winter 2012/13 issue, edited by Ladette Randolph and John Skoyles.
As a poet and citizen of the 21st century, I have an ambivalent relationship with technology. Long resistant to getting a “smartphone”—sensing imminent addiction—I eventually succumbed, and my worst fears were soon confirmed. Trying to hold fast to the high ground is not easy with new, distracting tech-toys constantly threatening to suck me into that sinkhole we all know too well.
I’d seen one of the first-ever holograms—a gorgeous wine goblet—in an artist’s bare space in the early days of Manhattan’s Soho district, and was enthralled. I remember this vision with a sense of excitement and wonder over the possibilities of science in the service of art. But decades later, when technology attempts to substitute the virtual as a better version of the lived life, it begins to feel sinister, the blurring of lines a crossing over to the dark side.
When I attended a lunchtime lecture-demo on technology at Queens College, given by a thoughtful, savvy PhD student of philosophy, I left with lots of notes for a poem. What is truth in a world of avatars and simulation? the poem asks. Was the lecturer himself real or a projection—a conjurer’s trick on the audience? At the end of the day, I console myself that poets and their readers, although so few, have not yet experienced a rewiring of their brains. The art of writing and reading text closely still demands concentration, and the poem itself, it seems to me, is the attempt to capture and express a moment of reality that might otherwise be lost.