Postmodern Light Switches

Posted on May 7, 2008


So, the light switch as postmodern!  Typically, is a smoothed off ‘rocker’ switch.  It does not protrude from the wall, it is a light switch without a specific click or position – no on or off; the switch position is unreadable, ambiguous.  The act of examining the switch physically yields no information.  It should be simple: but: on or off?  Suppose in the dark I want to turn on the light.  I press it but nothing happens.  Maybe it’s broken?  I press it in reverse but still nothing.  Or perhaps the lack of a delay due to my impatience meant the two possible positions were inadequately activated, my immediate reversing of the pressure of my finger, because I felt so compelled to press the opposite position, resulting in an electronic confusion.  Since I had already pressed the opposite position in my need for a result – so perhaps I am doubly uncertain – and since the situation continues and now nothing happens, even with longer intervals of waiting, perhaps the light is broken?  Perhaps if I had waited I wouldn’t have broken the electric circuit – clearly it is over-sensitive to any kind of impatience!  I meditate on my folly.  The first time I pressed it might have been the activating position but I cannot say, since I did not wait sufficiently long enough for the system to connect with itself – but then again who can decide?  What kind of reality does this light switch have?  Perhaps it is not real at all but fake?  Perhaps it is a joke switch put there by an engineer – because no mere electrician could have grappled with this complicated computerised affair – put there by an engineer to torment or perhaps to test, the electric light user?  After about five attempts at this, finally I am able to get a result: the light is on – it is on: so. But I still remain uncertain as to which action effected this result.  Now I come to the moment of needing to turn it off in order to establish for certain which press turned it on.  But on the other hand will it be obvious to me even if the light goes off?  Because suppose it doesn’t go off at first try?  The seeming effect of a second press, that might after all be a result of a delayed first press … Clearly, however, we can at least come to the following conclusion regarding this matter; which is that for this style of light switch the function of turning something on or off is simply far too simple.   There is no old-world bi-polarity ; this is just too blase.

Posted in: Postmodernism