Here's Mallarmé's great poem Un Coup De Dés... (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance), which I will say something about in a moment. Enjoy its sweeping aestheticism. Jienjoy!
[More about Haiku]
Mallarmé's poem's silky -- is there room to add, 'and simultaneously chaotic and, perhaps, byzantine'? -- texture, its charming effect on the receptive and, I think, skeptical mind alike, is as fresh and refreshing to me today as it ever was those many years ago already. And yet, what I remembered before now was the musicality. Not the centrality of the concepts dice and chance in the whole composition. I had been a (sur)face reader, then, and was still learning the ways of deep text-reading. Chance I knew, but wasn't much interested in. Civilization -- the art of war, more specifically -- had not yet compelled science to invent drones, noisy helicopters and those B52s being the closest 'cousins'. Re-reading Mallarmé precipitated a veritable conceptual clash between Dice and Drone.
But there are dark clouds ahead, so to speak. What I want to say just now -- I am very clear about this (the hint is there in the haiku) -- is that the drone, as we in the early days of the 21st century are coming to know it already, long after Mallarmé's time for sure, is not any thrower's dice. Nor is the throw of the dice -- consequential as it may often be in a 'casino' or some other betting den (smoke-filled and intense and 'levitating;) -- in the same frame of thought as the drone's. Nor are the coming generations of drones to be awaited and anticipated with the equanimity that Ebay's naivety recently inspired in media narrations of the internet of things.
I suspect that, as we inch toward and past 2050, a throw of the drone -- or of swarms of drones with the tropical bee's charged, deadly, pinpoint intensity -- from unknown or impromptu or rogue places beyond the hazy horizon, will increasingly and perhaps ceaselessly occupy and terrorize the collective mind. Why? Because of the cargo or parcels we will fear it carries and is intended to deliver, remorselessly and at no moment's notice at all -- and with no qualms. Intended, indeed, to defeat real or imagined enemies, or wreak what will turn out to be unprecedented havoc on global social order and humanity's broad sense of ontological security in deep neighborhoods, in what we have hitherto been able to know as peacetime. How long it will take humanity to return to that old, historical sense of normalcy may be the arithmetical-moral equivalent of a Hundred Years War (here's a fistful of images).
[Read Maurice Keene (2011) "The Hundred Years War"]
The point, finally, is this: "A throw of the dice will never abolish chance", yes. But the drone, weaponized, is another kind of thing altogether. Its stealthy, unrestrained throw threatens in a fundamental way the chance to live in privacy and safety and splendid isolation [here is another conception of 'splendid isolation'] in unreachable places. Unreachable because one has quietly inherited or found or devised buffers (of Time, Space and Number) and other sorts of rings and layers and moats of protection against unexpected or unwanted intrusion. A reign of armed drones would 'abolish' any sense of national security, as average citizens have come to understand it, and would threaten to render extinct the idea that people may have of organized society free of warlords and marauders, and intruders who are too stealthy and too swift and too targeting to keep at bay.
The drone threatens to abolish the chance of not being reached; of not being found by those whom one does not care to be found by, and cannot hide from.
Updated: March 1, 2014