New Orleans. -- You can fax your prayers to the Wailing Wall now,which proves what I've been suspecting for years, namely that there are no more people.
All there is now is God and technology, which may be one and the same thing. I mean, if you take away the journey, which has to be undertaken by a real physical being in a body, and that body's physical experience of place, all you have left is the ideas.
There is the idea of "prayer," and the idea that you can send it off to God. All you need is a fax and a god, two things that most people seem to have these days.
The merging of high tech and higher purpose has been going on for a while now. People, or whatever you call those plugged-in entitles on the couch, have been sending their money long-distance to televangelists to pass messages on to God. Drive-in churches are the coming thing, and telephone confessions are a growing business.
Of course, the gods have always been remote entities, reachable only in certain places like churches or sacred groves. Those places, served, in effect, as primitive fax machines or telephones. You traveled to Mecca, Rome, the Wailing Wall, the Sacred Cave or Mount Athos, and poured forth your wishes, dreams and hopes, certain that God had some kind of terminal connected to these places where he'd receive them.
Back in those days, you had to be there in person, in a body. The physical fact of body meeting place gave the operation a certain quality one might call human. It was experience, not the idea of experience. Now we've dispensed with the body, leaving only the message and its terminals.
Arguably, the prayer's still an individual thing, and turning on the fax is an almost physical thing. But just as arguably, prayer is pretty generic -- Dear God. Fill in need, wish and address -- and the fax can be turned on by the cat. Fax me outta here!
Andrei Codrescu is editor of Exquisite Corpse.