Idea and directing: Godfrey Reggio
Camera: Ron Fricke
Music: Philip Glass
The film opens with a shot of ancient pictographs: drawings and paintings on rocks left by possible ancestors of the Hopi Indians in the American Southwest. The mysterious images show human-like figures that may represent spirits or gods. They constitute the silent presence of a world and culture that is profoundly different from our own.
The following shots show an exploding fireball, elements of a metal structure, and debris particles falling like silent snow. We get a short glimpse of a giant rocket lifting off the launching pad. The slow and somber choral music of the sound track pronounces one single word: "Koyaanisqatsi." It is a Hopi word, and it means "crazy life," "life out of balance," or "a state of life that calls for a different way of living."
Following this short introduction there is a long sequence of panorama shots showing spectacular sites of the American West: Canyon Lands, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, the Carlsbad Caverns, and similar landmarks. Bare rocks dominate the vistas. It is the bone structure of the earth that we see in these pictures--that part of the earth’s surface that changes most slowly in the course of time. The massive layers of the geological formations remind us of the immense time frames within which the present landscapes have come into existence--hundreds of millions of years, and in some areas more than a billion.
Corresponding to a change in the music, other natural phenomena come into view: dramatic cloud formations, giant waterfalls, breaking ocean waves, and water surfaces of vast proportions. The moving clouds are shown in time-lapse pictures (thus speeding up their movements), while some of the massively moving waters appear in slow motion. The powerful music integrates this display of the elements into something like a cosmic composition. We see the earth in a state before its reduction to raw material for industrial production, the earth in its original splendor.
The next section of the film begins with a dreamlike flight, close to the surface of the land and the waters of Lake Powell. The lake is a human-made reservoir that irrigates fields in the desert and produces electricity for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Straight rows of colorful flowers pass beneath the camera in rapid succession. The film enters the phase in which we witness the human transformation of the earth. The first signs of human civilization are quickly followed by shots of gigantic earth moving equipment. The machines dwarf their human operators, and their effect on the landscape is shown as violent and massive destruction. Aerial shots of the Navajo power plant, and of the huge wall of the Hoover dam, indicate the general industrialization of the Western landscape. The mining operations that we see are part of the uranium extraction that takes place on the Navajo reservation. The following picture of the mushroom cloud of the first atomic explosion conducted in New Mexico documents the lethal extension of the industrial progress that Western civilization has brought to Western lands and the rest of the world.
The next sequence brings us to metropolitan California. The first shot is a close-up of a mother and her infant lying in the sand. They look dead, although they are just asleep; the preceding mushroom cloud invokes the ever-present possibility of death by radiation. This uneasy association is reinforced by the looming cooling towers of the San Onofre nuclear power plant that slowly comes into view as the camera recedes from the sleepers on the beach. All the following scenes have threatening overtones, although they show details of everyday life that would strike most of the viewers as ordinary and familiar. The Jumbo Jets landing at Los Angeles International Airport, approaching slowly through a haze of heat and smog, are vaguely reminiscent of mythical monsters. The incessant and monotonous traffic on the multi-lane freeways drowns out any possibility of human sensibility and interaction. Endless rows of tanks and other military hardware show once more the military extension of a civilization that even in its civilian manifestations tends to become anti-human. We see fighter jets, a rocket homing in on its target, an intercontinental ballistic missile leaving its depot, and a model of "Fat Boy," the egg-shaped atomic bomb that obliterated Hiroshima. The sequence ends with a paroxysm of Napalm bombings in Vietnam--fiery explosions on the ground and deadly ordnance coming down from B-52s.
There is a sudden silence. We see pictures of New York City. Instead of the natural formations from the beginning of the movie we now have the human-made canyons between the sky scrapers of lower Manhattan. As a new musical movement slowly sets in, the camera tracks along the ruined buildings of Bedford-Stuyvesant, at the time the most infamous slum of the city. The pictures are as grim as those of bombed-out German cities after Word War II. Slowly the camera focuses on the people who live among these ruins. Debris and garbage fill the streets; youngsters play near splashing fire hydrants; adults sit aimlessly and lethargic on stoops or behind open windows—human surplus, as it were, washed up in dysfunctional and dying neighborhoods.
The sequence continues with pictures of vast tracts of deserted apartment complexes--this time those of the failed Pruitt Igoe project in St. Louis. Footage obtained from demolition companies shows how the high-rise buildings are taken down one by one: Explosive sets destroy their supports, and their facades collapse in vertical slow motion. Massive clouds of dust rise; debris flies in all directions.
The following sequence focuses on crowds of people. They are shown both in time-lapse photography and slow motion takes. The speed-up effect of the time-lapse shots presents people as a driven and dehumanized mass. The rapidly filling and emptying lines in front of betting office windows reduces every person to an inanimate particle that moves in accordance with the laws of statistics. The slow-motion pictures of individuals moving in the big crowd emphasize people's position as isolated and almost mysterious beings that exist in an environment utterly alien to them. Their presence in the enormous mass of pedestrians that fill the streets and avenues is, in part because of the solemn music, a deeply melancholy sight. "Have a barrel of fun," a huge advertisement poster suggests, but few of the people passing beneath it seem happy or even content. A big electronic billboard at Times Square announces “The Grand Illusion”--presumably the famous film by Renoir. In the present context it is a sardonic comment on the nature of modern civilization that keeps promising to make human beings happy and the proud masters of their fate.
The next sequence deals with the relationship of modern technology and humans: it shows how people are driven by machines. The sequence starts with panoramic time-lapse pictures of thoroughfare traffic in nocturnal Los Angeles: The head and tail lights of cars are speeding along the freeways and boulevards of the enormous metropolis that stretches from the foreground to beyond the horizon. Nothing humane or personal is in evidence anymore; life is reduced to abstract time, matter,space, and speed.
The abstract movement of traffic patterns is picked up by pictures from other big cities. In Manhattan we see the mechanically regulated flow of cars and hordes of pedestrians as people hurry toward their seemingly individual destinations. At Grand Central Station people are speedily channeled through revolving doors and onto rows of crowded escalators. Pictures of assembly lines appear. People pack ham, cheese, and hotdogs in accordance with the coercive motion of conveyor belts. Computer cards are sorted, trousers sown, cars assembled, and money counted in the same hurried and monotonous motion. In video arcades people seem glued to the gaming machines; in appliance stores the flicker of hundreds of television screens mesmerizes customers and window shoppers. For a while we follow the mad mix of talk shows, commercials, news, and gaudy televangelist smiles. The speed of all these motions is steadily increasing, and personal human activities are drawn into the maelstrom. People are eating as fast as they work and run about, and at the end they race again through their dead streets in a trance that renders them hopelessly passive in the midst of their furious activity. The manic and restless speeding of these scenes is the extreme opposite of the almost timeless repose of the landscapes at the beginning of the film. It indicates the point at which human existence may be about to come apart at its technical seams.
The last sequence of “Koyaanisqatsi” is again introduced by an eerie silence. There is an aerial view of a big city, and then a satellite shot of a still larger metropolis. Pictures of circuit boards follow these vistas, and one is struck by the increasing similarity of city grids and circuit board patterns. As the final movement of the music commences and increases in volume (this time the choir sings the text of three Hopi prophecies), the camera focuses once more on individual people and faces. Most of the faces look ravaged and sad. Most of the people seem victimized and lost in a crowd that cannot but be mechanical and indifferent to individual fates and situations. We see a hand in a hospital bed groping for another hand-- for some human contact. A man in a street is felled by a heart attack, and uniformed men try to take care of the problem in the way a disruptive traffic incident is taken care of. Firemen stalk among the ruins of a burned-out building where curious spectators and playing children seem impervious to any tragedy.
At the end of the sequence we return to the launching of the rocket, glimpses
of which were presented at the beginning of the film. It is a Saturn rocket
that is being readied, and it is shown taking off for its journey into space.
We see it rise for a while--and then explode. There is the huge fireball, and
then the parts and debris falling down. The camera fastens on one of the burning
jets and follows it on its tumbling way down. While the jet's movement gradually
turns into slow motion, and finally into a freeze, the booming "Koyaanisqatsi"
of the choir ends the sequence. The film concludes with the silent presentation
of another pictograph with mysterious figures that look at us as from their
After the last shot the three Hopi prophesies appear on the screen in English translation:
If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster.
Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs
spun back and forth in the sky.
A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky,
which could burn the land and boil the oceans.
The Self-destruction of the Modern World
The work is unusual, to say the least. There are no heroes and adversaries, there is no action, and there are no dialogues or even voice-over commentaries--none of the elements that ordinarily make up a feature-length film. The work is not an ordinary documentary either. It can be described as a work of art: as a counterpoint composition that features a visual track with powerful and haunting images, and an audio track with evocative and mesmerizing music. It can also be described as a vision of the end of our world, a vision that calls for commentary and reflection in the way certain prophesies do..
During public discussions Godfrey Reggio has maintained that there is no one exclusive or “correct” reading of the film: it is up to the viewers to make something of what they see and hear. This does not mean, however, that an interpretation of “Koyaanisqatsi” has to be arbitrary or uninformed. There is a clear direction in the film--an identifiable development with a beginning, middle, and an end. The film starts with images of undisturbed nature, with landscapes that remind the viewer of the immense spaces and time frames within which human beings once found themselves. From this beginning the film moves quickly to the world of fuel-driven machines and 20th century technology, showing how the original landscapes become increasingly damaged, cluttered, used up, and in the end superseded by the industrial structures and products of contemporary civilization. From there the film moves into the sphere of actual people, into the technological world as human habitat. Among their mammoth machines, sprawling freeways, and towering apartment silos human beings have become an impersonal mass, and the occasional individuals that we spot seem strange and lost creatures in their overwhelming artificial environment. The film ends with humanity's attempted expansion or escape into space, and the catastrophic explosion of one of the vehicles that are to usher in this latest phase of technological and cultural progress.
This direction of the film suggests a philosophical interpretation of the modern
world. “Koyaanisqatsi” shows what at first sight seems to be the
realization of the ultimate ambition of the Enlightenment: the replacement of
nature by a human-made world, and the establishment of humanity as the sovereign
controllers of their lives and planet. But it soon becomes clear that the human-made
world that we see in the film is a far cry from the optimistic expectations
of Enlightenment thinkers. The situation portrayed in "Koyaanisqatsi"
does not show human beings as masters of their fate, but as creatures at a loss—victimized,
indeed, by their own gigantic and overpowering productions. They are not the
promethean and autonomous race that can look with confidence and satisfaction
on what they have accomplished, but endangered and oppressed beings that are
wedged in and dragged along by developments and forces that they seem to design
and direct, but which in truth have gone massively awry and are running dangerously
out of control. The manic and ever increasing speed that characterizes much
of the city footage, and that has to be seen in contrast to the repose and slow
motion of the earlier landscape shots, indicates the instability and insanely
driven nature of human life under modern conditions.
Certain examples of technology gone awry are particularly visible. The “personal” motor car, and the industries and infrastructures connected with it, provide much of the disturbing footage that makes up “Koyaanisqatsi.” The dehumanized cityscapes, through which vehicles move as inanimate mechanical particles, summarize much of what has happened to Western civilization. Cars, by seemingly providing increased mobility, convenience, and enhanced freedom to individual consumers, have by now created centers of permanent traffic congestion, hazardous living conditions, dangerous fuel dependencies, unlivable neighborhoods, exorbitantly wasteful infrastructure projects, and progressively worsening effects on the earth’s biosphere. In major cities all over the world the personal car has increasingly changed from an agreeable and viable means of transportation into an economic, administrative, and physical nightmare. Enormous expenditures and exorbitant efforts are necessary to keep the grossly inefficient “tin avalanche” moving. There is no more sarcastic and telling comment on the propagated cliché of increased individual liberty than the film’s pictures of thousands of glum drivers uniformly stuck--in hazy smog--on twelve-lane freeways in endless and viscously crawling California traffic. (And how, contemplating these pictures, can anyone forget that the traffic situation in cities like Bangkok or Djakarta has become far worse than even that of Los Angeles, and that things are bound to become unimaginable once countries like China follow through with their plans to motorize populations that are several times the size of that of America.)
It is evident that describing the car as a tool that people use to satisfy their transportation needs is myopic, if not outright illusory; the price exacted by private vehicular traffic in terms of resources, labor time, environmental damage, and nerves is simply too high to be rationally instrumental. Cars today do not serve people as much as people serve cars. As any reflection on the over-all situation reveals, a massive reversal of means and ends has taken hold, a reversal that pertains to many other aspects of our technology-dependent civilization as well. As cars and the infrastructure necessary for their maintenance force drivers to live in a noisy, unhealthy, dreary, and otherwise oppressive environment, people everywhere are required to make unreasonable sacrifices to accommodate the machines and industries that are said to improve their lives. While modern machines and technologies do, of course, improve people’s lives in many ways, it is clear that their proliferating and thoughtless use increasingly interferes with what people would like to be and do--and progressively threatens their very existence.
The direction of such developments had in part been foreseen by 19th century observers of the Industrial Revolution. Henry David Thoreau remarked in his Walden that "we do not ride on the railroad, the railroad rides upon us." In the same work he also exclaims: "But lo! men have become the tools of their tools." Karl Marx observed in his Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 that workers had become "mere appendices" of the machines of which they seemingly were in charge, and that the whole of industrial production had come to “confront them as something alien”—as something injurious and threatening. A good number of philosophers and writers became alarmed by the fact that the human ingenuity that the Enlightenment so admired began to create a world in which the products turned against their producers, and that the world of objects began to dominate and rule the lives of human beings. “Things are in the saddle/ And ride mankind,” as Emerson put it in his “Ode to Ellery Channing.”
The dependency of people on human-made objects, on technological installations and arrangements created by modern industry, is highlighted by the risks and dangers to which in varying degrees all inhabitants of the planet are subjected. One of the original reasons for developing modern science and technology was the desire to make the world safer to live in—to control and neutralize as much as possible the effects of floods, storms, earthquakes, draughts, epidemics, and other potential catastrophes. While efforts in this direction have been highly successful, the development of modern technology has also created new dangers that can be just as disastrous as natural events. NASA once sent an exploratory rocket to Saturn that was powered by Plutonium fuel. The problem with this mission was that upon reentry an accident might have occurred. Plutonium is so toxic, that small amounts are sufficient to kill the entire world population. The experts decided at the time that the likelihood of an accident was very small, and that the risk of launching the rocket was feasible—a decision with which the people of the world had to live, whether they derived any benefits from the mission or not. (Not unexpectedly, measures were taken to minimize public knowledge of the enterprise and its risks.)
The point is that the human-made world of modern technology is a highly dangerous world—far more dangerous than most people are aware of in their every-day lives. The Plutonium-fueled rocket is only one example among many. To one degree or another all inhabitants of the planet are constantly threatened by human-made perils. The dangers are not always cataclysmic, but they are considerable nevertheless. Chemistry and chemical industry have produced multitudes of useful products, but they have also produced side-effects and unleashed chain reactions that may haunt human beings and injure other organisms for a long time to come. Chemicals that seep into and accumulate in soil, water, and air already have serious effects on mammals, fish, and plant life. Mercury has become highly concentrated in seafood and human mothers’ milk, leading to brain damage and deteriorating mental health. Growing cancer rates among very young people have alerted scientists to a variety of dangers that are suspected to originate in proliferating uses of chemicals. Given that highly trained experts frequently disagree about the risks and dangers connected with certain products, the public always has to wonder whether commonly used articles are really safe or not. Governments even in democratic countries are not always forthcoming about the pros and cons of what will be sold by corporations in a free market. Systematic uncertainty about the risks and dangers of modern technology has become a permanent feature of the human condition.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the constantly expanding field of modern weapons, particularly of atomic weapons and their automated delivery systems. The mushroom clouds that appear in “Koyaanisqatsi” are a disquieting reminder that our lives have not become safer as a result of existing nuclear arsenals, but indeed far more vulnerable and precarious. So far only two atomic bombs have been used. Although these two bombs obliterated most of two major cities, condemning hundreds of thousands of civilians to an instant or a slow, painful death, the destructive power of these weapons was small compared with that of the warheads that are aimed at population centers today. The lethal power confronting humanity at this point is, in fact, such that any notion of “winning or losing a war” has been rendered obsolete. Even if one side in a nuclear contest should manage to kill and lay waste more people and territories than the other, the over-all destruction of the biosphere would be so extensive, that in the long run no human being could evade the miseries of radiation sicknesses, atomic winter, broken-down infrastructures, or other consequences of nuclear explosions. The strategy and final outcome of nuclear warfare has thus officially been termed MAD—Mutually Assured Destruction.
Not a few politicians have advocated this as a good reason for feeling safe. Nobody in his or her right mind, so they say, would ever want to set such a doomsday machine in motion by initiating a first strike. The trouble is, of course, that one cannot quite rely on such an assumption. Military commanders have more than once recommended that atomic weapons be used, and some strategists are still eager to figure out a slight advantage in their armaments that would enable their side to strike first--early enough to possibly escape full retaliation by the enemy. While most politicians may be honestly convinced that atomic war is not a viable option, nobody can ever be quite sure that some adventurous administration may not think that preemptive war is a good bet, and that a first strike will bring success and glory to the team that dares. At a time when elected governments clearly overrule the will of the people, when democratic regimes keep government decisions and policies as secret from their own voters as they can, when officials in high positions frequently lie to the public without hesitation, and when amazingly extremist opinions surface time and again among high-ranking decision makers, anything is possible.
Equally uncertain are the prospects of nuclear proliferation. It seems unlikely that a few privileged countries will be able to preserve their atomic monopoly forever. The world will either curtail the possession and use of nuclear technology altogether and equally, or new atomic powers will eventually emerge. And the more arsenals exist, the more likely it is that some use of such weapons will occur. There is further the possibility that non-governmental organizations like Al Quaida will succeed in acquiring enough nuclear material to wreak havoc on powers by whom they feel threatened or injured. Unless people in places like the Near East will find a way to consensual agreements, the danger of horrendous events will not only persist, but most likely increase.
Finally there is the possibility of accidentally triggering the launch of missiles or bombs from the constantly ready silos, submarines, and strategic bombers. Wild geese appearing unexpectedly on the wrong radar screens have come close to triggering World War III. A commander facing an unusual situation may be at a loss as to how to react. If he unleashes his missiles he may start the doomsday machine because of some technical mishap. If he does not unleash his missiles he may permit the enemy to launch a first strike that might make retaliation ineffective—a possibility that a professional soldier may not be likely to accept. Again, anything is possible in such hair trigger situations, and such hair trigger situations have become the basic human condition in the human-made world. Human beings did not design and build Vesuvius, the volcano that obliterated cities like Pompeii and Herculanum. Human beings did, however, design and build doomsday machines that can obliterate much more, and more permanently as well. In their confused and driven pursuits, among which the pursuit of greater safety is particularly prevalent, human beings have managed to bring themselves much closer to their extinction than nature ever did.
People who try to understand our situation in comprehensive terms often conclude that something very basic has gone wrong, that our life is indeed altogether “a crazy life,” “a life out of balance,” and a life that urgently “calls for a change.” They also take note that the craziness is human-made. Nothing seems more plausible, therefore, than the thought that human beings ought to wake up and set things aright—to deconstruct the machineries of destruction, to rein in run-away industries, to re-think the use and effects of certain machines, and to employ science and technology for limited and beneficial purposes alone.
While such a line of thought seems plausible and attractive, it easily overestimates what people can actually do--by underestimating the impersonal nature of the forces that have come to determine the parameters of our lives. In an interview Reggio once remarked: “I think we don't use technology, we live technology, which to me is a critical distinction. It's not the effect of technology on society, it's that everything is situated in technology; it becomes the host.” (Fifth Estate, vol. 29, no.1 (1994)). Human beings do not fit technology into their lives, but are forced to fit their lives into the requirements of their established technology. That is why Reggio further points out that under present conditions it is not human beings who are autonomous, but the technological system in which they live, and that therefore it is an illusion to think that people can simply make up their minds and change their priorities, and thereby re-direct the use of their productive assets:
If we only look inside ourselves for what's wrong I think we miss the fundamental phenomenon of a technological entity that is autonomous in its presence. When something is autonomous it has its own imperative, its own determinism, its own direction. We feel we can direct this world with good intentions. I'm not questioning anyone's intentions, but because we don't understand the nature of the phenomenon we keep coming up with human answers to questions that are fundamentally not human at this point.(Ibid.)
The film’s Pruitt Igoe episode is an illustration of the powerlessness of good intentions in a world that is largely determined by the non-human forces and dynamics that follow their own imperatives and determinations. Pruitt Igoe was a large-scale housing project in St. Louis that was to replace decaying slum areas with modern high rise apartments in a clean, park-like environment. Le Corbusier, then the internationally celebrated star architect of modernist urban planning and construction, was hired to design the project. The 3000 apartments were completed and occupied in 1956. The completion of the project was seen as a triumph of modern technological thinking (including social engineering) over chaotic living conditions and intractable destructiveness.
Within a few years, however, the development began to decay into a state that was worse than the former slums. Vandalism, disrepair, and rampant crime made the whole project increasingly uninhabitable. The federal government tried to rehabilitate the project by pumping in millions of dollars for repairs, but the measure was in vain. The dynamics of mass housing, low income, racism, lack of opportunity for the youngsters who grew up in the project, and other related factors rendered the problems of vandalism and crime unmanageable. In 1972 the authorities were forced to abandon the project and raze the buildings. The spectacular demolition footage from the archives of the wrecking company that Reggio used in his film becomes the symbolic visualization of what will be left, according to “Koyaanisqatsi,” of the hopes that modern urban planners and advanced technologies represent. Mass housing projects like Pruitt Igoe turn out to be part of the “life out of balance,” not a solution to its problems (as little as building ever more freeways and cars is a solution to our ever more pressing transportation problems).
The decisive difference between the human-made world that Enlightenment thinkers
like Fichte envisioned and the world presented in “Koyaanisqatsi”
is the fact that the latter was not brought about by the inspiration and planning
of reason, but to a large extent by such forces as short-sighted greed, competitiveness,
power struggles, thoughtless habit, or the reckless and narrow-minded pursuit
of trivial convenience and comfort. While modern humanity has made rapid progress
in conquering large parts of external nature, and in subjecting much of the
physical world to some sort of human control, it largely failed to civilize
itself—people’s own minds and inner nature. The technologies on
which the world depends today, and the military machineries that threaten its
existence, are of the utmost sophistication. Most human beings, by contrast,
who are involved in the design, maintenance and operation of these systems and
machines are disproportionately primitive. They neither command the knowledge
that a rational administration of a technological world would require, nor do
they manifest the degree of self-knowledge, sublimation of instincts, or inner
discipline that would be compatible with “the rule of reason.”
The often amazing discrepancy between the sophistication of the modern technological world and the lack of education and culture on the part of its inhabitants is one of the most remarkable features of today’s civilization. It explains not only why the majority of people are perfect strangers in their human-made world, but also why democracy is failing at just the time when the ritual of the ballot box has won almost universal approval. Genuine self-government would require a sufficient degree of knowledge and education on the part of citizens; the sophistication of people who govern themselves would have to match the sophistication of their technological environment. The sophistication that went into the creation of the modern world, however, has no counterpart in the minds of most people. Humanity at large has blatantly failed to develop their most distinctive and important faculty, the discipline of reason. Under these conditions humanity is not an alternative to raw nature, but just another part of it—one more blind and irrational force among others.
“Koyaanisqatsi” shows us how masses of people are channeled and
processed like inanimate particles in an automated mechanical system. Their
behavior suggests that they do not act under the command of their own free will
and reason, but by the prompting of external impulses and forces. In the wired
world of sophisticated electronics the very minds of people are manipulated
by the powers that also control the external world. The mesmerized television
watchers in front of flickering entertainment machines are a reminder that people’s
innermost centers are as locked into the impersonal processes of the technological
world as every other instrument or product. They are not self-motivated actors,
but cogs in a machine--or detritus. Their minds do not initiate or understand,
but react--passively taking in the signals and information scraps that are fed
to them by powerful entertainment and propaganda conglomerates. Their thoughts
are as predictable as the behavior of their bodies—or the movements of
the rats that aspiring social engineers like to run through their mazes.
Many viewers wonder whether there is any way out of the “crazy life” shown in “Koyaanisqatsi”--whether Godfrey Reggio sees any possibility of humanity freeing itself from the system of forces that negate their self-determination. The film refrains from giving answers. “Koyaanisqatsi” offers a vision of what is happening, and it reminds us of how the ambitious dream of the Enlightenment may eventually end. It is up to the viewer to draw further conclusions. In the interview mentioned earlier the director remarks:
I find it hopeful that the more technology develops unfettered there is a greater possibility for serious dysfunction because the point at which everything is focused is more and more centralized. If dysfunction occurs on a level which is historically unprecedented, which I think is already happening, we're going to experience events that will indicate how out of control our autonomous technology is. If that happens, if there's a permanent reversal in things like water, air, the basic things we need to sustain life, then we will be forced to make systematic changes if only to survive.
(From Jorn K. Bramann: Educating Rita and Other Philosophical Movies)
Fichte: Nature and Civilization
Philosophical Films: A Special Topics Course