"The hedonistic and stylish progress of contemporary man through the maze of cables is portrayed [by Merton] in the belittling terms of insect servility:Each ant has his appointed round
In the technical circuit
All the way to high
One to make it and the other to break it.
The insect metaphor recalls the section of the poem in which rats supervise the laboratory experiments in which men are run through an electronic maze. The rats, who manipulate society's mythdreams, keep those in the maze passive and satisfied by pressing pleasure buttons:That earthly
Paradise in the head
Two millimeters away
From my sinus infection.
Merton's brave new world centers on a society that values nothing but pleasure and that therefore methodically attempts to suppress feelings of guilt and alienation:Now the psycho--
A ticking spark
Kills the snakes
And the odour of heresy."