Altar, Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome
Photograph by the author
The word technology derives from the Greek roots tekhne, craft, and the root logia, from the word logos, or, word. So, oddly, the word technology actually means, in a certain sense, the craft of speaking: and it originally comes, in its most immediate sense, from the Greek tekhnologia, that is, systematic treatment.
The idea that Being is not a reflexive, automatic, and mechanical action which instantly expresses itself in full is an ancient one; the Hindus, Greeks, and other cultures debated the question of the technology of Being at great length, which gave rise to all of the schools of philosophy. Interested readers should definitely avail themselves of a copy of Thomas McEvilley's The Shape of Ancient Thought and spend several years reading it a few pages at a time. It is an excellent accompaniment to breakfast.
The Greeks and Romans, along with their Hindu counterparts, ultimately became mired in the resinous extrusions of their various trees of thought and philosophy. Many of the thoughts and opinions they developed fossilized and come down to us preserved in amber—magnificent and debatable, but apparently somewhat useless and maybe even powerless in relationship to the onslaught of what we call modern technology, which is really about nothing more than the systematic treatment of materials, not being.
Modern technology is, as such, a degenerate form of philosophy which reduces it to sophisticated masturbation with the elements and their various combinations. There's no God; there's just stuff for us to play with in various ways.
It's fundamentally impossible for such an activity to affect man's Being; because all of the action of modern technology is outer, whereas all of ancient technology, in terms of its original understanding, was inner. Outer technology without the guidance of inner Being becomes a disaster, as we are seeing.
This is vaguely understood by modern New Age, Luddite, and (perhaps above all) fundamentalist movements, who begin to believe anew that it's more interesting to study the inner sense of Being and leave the outer senses and materials to more natural ways of expression than what our modern materials technology can achieve.
This has in some cases spawned a reactionary and even violent rejection of the modern which serves no one. More practically, we need to see that we're stuck with where we are in terms of the sciences, and must make our peace with them as intelligently as we can. No one can put the cats back in the bag, and turning the clock back so that these forces are somehow done away with is not a practical idea; it is, in fact, a delusional form of magical thinking just as misguided as the idea that that material technologies can lead us forward into Being.
The only way we will be able to make our peace with such forces is by revitalizing a technology of Being, which is what Jeanne de Salzmann attempted to do in her notes and teachings, as reflected in The Reality of Being.
This technology of Being is an inner science, based on an understanding which is crafted through an intimate contact with the self. Intimate contact with the self is a path to the higher Self, and is in fact the exact same path that Christ called us to. It is a path that leads away from the possible towards the impossible; and man's spirit itself is crafted such that it always attempts to take this path, whether inwardly or outwardly. Materials technology is, in fact, the outward expression of this urge to reach towards the impossible; what we have forgotten is the inward expression of that same path, which is what ought to balance our understanding of outer technology and turn it to positive, creative, and constructive ends.
The reason that the word technology was originally derived from a set of words that meant "the craft of words" was that it was understood that a precise language might lead to better understanding of these matters. That precise language was always, like any understanding, meant to turn effort towards positive, creative, and constructive ends. Not to create sophistry and an endless series of arguments, but call us to a deeper and more intimate contact with what we are as creatures.
We cannot act in positive, creative, and constructive ways by proposing and propagating a destructive conflict between the technology of materials and the technology of Being. Both are true things; both exist. We must find a way to bring them together intelligently in a manner that reflects the best qualities and possibilities of mankind, not the worst ones.