I spent a bunch of time listening to Allen Ginsberg’s Howl a little while ago, inspired by this rather long-winded and rambling piece on Moloch. I specifically spend a fair amount of time these days thinking about this line: “They broke their backs lifting Moloch to Heaven!” Air travel, the Internet, global finance, and on and on - these are all pretty spectacular creations of the seventy or so years since Ginsberg wrote his poem, and they all require a ton of sacrifice from all corners of society. We are working devilishly hard to sustain something which is, as Ginsberg put it “pure machinery.” I’m not writing in protest exactly - I benefit plenty from all of these inventions, thank you very much - but rather in a kind of awe that Ginsberg had our number so well, and so long ago.

(Incidentally: I know this poem is not unproblematic, by a long stretch. But goodness is it fascinating all the same.)