The slow but sure movement towards a measurable manifestation of the fact that every day you give less and less of a fuck what other people actually think and are more and more willing to speak your mind.
June 4 – Something You Have Seen
aka. Post 4 of Those 30 Posts in June Blog-Every-Day Posts
I admit, I tend to avoid being too controversial on this blog.
I don’t have the energy to fight off trolls and beat down haters who are climbing over the walls to rattle their ideological spears in my virtual face if I was. Instead, I read & watch. And I do often shake my fist at the screens in my life, and like everyone else I’ll seethe with frustrated anger at the irrationality of a stupid or a contrary opinion, but I’ve usually found enough reserve energy in my little battery of restraint to keep myself from jumping into the fray, and in particular, writing blathering crap on this blog that I might someday regret.
my apathy is just letting the other guys win
Yet, regret is a two way street: for example, I do regret my wallflower-like position on occasion. After all, there is that old adage (attributed online to Edmund Burke) that says: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Put another way I think it’s saying that yes, disagreeing and fighting against ideas that are [insert adjective here] is uncomfortable, but my apathy is just letting the other guys win.
The saddest thing I see about the modern world is that we’ve made this all so binary: winners and losers. Right versus left. Urban versus rural. Rich versus poor. Us versus them. Ideology has amplified it all into a sport-like system where you are assigned to a team, a shirted-up rookie, even if you like it or not, and then you are slotted into a type, a character, who is rigidly defined by some blocky, single-axis definition. There is no fuzziness. We are not individuals. We are just the city-folk, middle-class, leftie, yuppies. We are truck-driving, right-winger, gun-toting, evangelicals. We are dippers. We are red necks. Whatever. We are so eager to define each other that we don’t realize we are just categorizing ourselves.
rigidly defined by some blocky, single-axis definition
This seems like no big deal. This seems like some sort of Pollyanna rant, a-can’t-we-all-just-get-along bit of blathering. Life is tough, you say. Fight for your rights, you say. Take what you can get. Fuck you all, I’m looking after myself, you say. Well, you say that, maybe until you realize that when all you’ve succeeded in doing is to divide the world into two big contrarian camps. And if we’re playing a big us versus them game here, there is by definition no way we can all win. So, sadly, rather than all of us working together to elevate, well… all of us… more and more it seems like most of us are working to elevate our side while we stomp down the other.
And we entrench.
Both sides, we hold the line we’ve collectively decided to hold.
We dig into our opinions, no matter how stupid or irrational or unnecessarily binary. And I’d like to suggest we are all sticking our heads in the metaphorical sand, like they say ostriches do, to avoid the reality of the world around us. But I think it’s the opposite of that. Our heads are the only thing that are not buried. We see and hear everything, but we’ve stuck ourselves to our necks in the metaphorical sand, made each other unable to move or react or adapt to a new position without a monumental effort of will and energy. And sure, no one is going to move us from where we’re standing buried there five feet into that beach-head, but when something, somewhere, someday comes washing up –and eventually it will, life the universe, or some unstoppable evil– like the tide rolling in, we’re all going to be in big trouble.
I think the worst part of modern politics is not that we all have different perspectives, opinions and that we often disagree, but that those who challenge popular opinions are too often treated like traitors or turncoats.
Having woken up before 4am on Sunday morning –and having achieved a fully-caffeinated state for my taxi-shuttle-service duties to the airport and back– I found myself with a good chunk of time in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday morning to do some blogging. And there is nothing like a wee-morning-hour buzz to get the neurons firing about a hot topic. The result was an article I wrote called Debunking the “New Math” Fear, an article on a topic that has me a little fired up in a different way. Now that I actually have some first-degree stake in this curriculum-and-education game, I find that the wandering irrationality of polarizing politicians and their blind followers drives me even more bonkers. I hope you don’t mind, but as much as I’ve strayed away from controversial topics in the last few years on this blog, I think there are some topics for which I’m going to be a little more actively climbing that metaphorical hill of battle and upon which I’ll be planting my flag of slanted opinion. So… a bit more of that. It’s for my daughte, after all. It’s a thing I’ve gotta do.
I used to write another blog about science and science-education. It was something of a passion for me, but I ran out of patience for the criticism it received and shuttered it. Yeah, that’s right… there are people who don’t like it when you talk about science. Go figure.
They send hate mail. They write angry comments.
Ugly creatures emerge from the depths of the internet when you give your opinion on topics like these. We can be a sad species at times, particularly when defending cherished ideas.
But then I was watching that Bill Nye debate the other day. (I won’t write which debate because it will probably attract all manner of keyword-searching, rogue-like, anti-science commenters and I’ll feel obliged to defend myself for anything and everything I say here. Not gonna happen.) But, yeah… the debate.
And I was a little stirred. Y’know… passion-wise. And I was trying to figure out a simple way to articulate that stirring and the related frustration I have when I watch those kinds of debates.
See, a debate implies balance. It implies that we’re playing the same game, with the same rules, but with different outcomes based on otherwise equal factors. We argue about which factors have more weight in the debate and we defend those arguments based on the rules. But science can’t be a side in a debate: science is more like the set of rules for a debate, and when you’re debating the rules of the debate… you’re not actually debating anything… you’re… GAH!
But as the little robot, the DadBot3000, here in my illustration is pointing out, there is actually a simple way to get my frustration across.
See… science is about collecting pieces of information that have been measured, observed, correlated, verified, and understood by human minds –what, for the sake of this argument we’ll call facts– and then connecting those facts together with our best interpretation of what fills the gaps between what we know and through we don’t know to try to make a bigger picture of the universe.
On the other hand, so-called “not-science” –and as much as even I like a good story or mystery or bit of folklore, take your pick by what I mean by “not-science”– is about having the picture first and then trying to align those (possibly same) facts to that picture.
You can have your own picture, I don’t care –to each their own, I say– but you can’t call it science or truth or reality, and you particularly can’t expect others to see the same picture as you, unless you start with the dots and fill in the lines as you go.
Get it? Dots first, picture later. Sure, early on the picture that is joined up by all the dots might not be as awesome as the picture we wanted to start with, but it gets better the more minds (science education, nudge-nudge) that are willing, able and available to find and interpret more facts. More dots. And again… dots first, picture later.
And that’s what bugged me about that debate (and many like it.) If you already think you have the picture in your head and you’re not willing to change it, then a true debate –an honest, open, real debate– can never really happen… even as awesome as Bill Nye is at arguing those things.
I had my heart dashed upon the sharp, digital rocks of the Internets rockier coasts recently.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, I suppose. It was bound to happen. I think we’ve been sailing in the dark digital seas without much hope for proper navigation for a while, and it was only a matter of time.
See, I’ve been listening to this podcast. And this podcast failed me…
Wait. Let me back up.
To begin with it needs be understood that I’ve basically given up on radio. Music stations are gone from my playlist, and I couldn’t tell you for the life of me where standard talk radio now lives on my tuner. My clock is set to the local CBC station, but only because I can’t stand waking up to the bleating of an alarm. I have nearly all my music and my news delivered to my ears — about ninety-five percent of the time — via one of a few devices that consumes or stores digital audio and lets me pump it through headphones, speakers, or the car stereo: my phone, my ipod, or a computer of some kind. This digital audio comes largely in the form of music, audio books and podcasts. And nearly all my podcasts are pulled from the web via an automated update process and a carefully culled list that I maintain on my phone. I have so much to listen to, I literally cannot keep up.
I acknowledge fully that more than a couple of these podcasts are pure candy. But there are others, serious audio, I rely upon for news, discussion, and opinion of topics of niche interest to me. The thing is that one particular of these podcats — the name of which I will not mention because that’s not really the point — let me down last week — failed my confidence in an epic way — dashing my faith in the art of modern review journalism upon the crags of unreality.
But what do you care? Isn’t critical review all just a big popularity contest anyhow? Consumers doing what they do, consuming, and then scraping varying levels of fame from the chaff of greater things and recycling their opinions as critical reviews: Five stars. Two thumbs up. Recommended… or not.
Perhaps I’ve learned — been coerced by a false confidence in popular opinion — to take review at face value for what it is, and with only the merest grain or two of cynicism and within the properly weighted relationship that it deserves. But I make purchases based on review. I read books based on review.
I see movies based on review.
We went to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey the other day, Peter Jackson’s fourth offering from the Tolkien-lore-based film interpretation series. You know: the first of three Hobbit movies due to clutter our hearts and souls — and drain our wallets — for the next couple years. You know: the movie that has been reviewed ad naseum by the modern reviewer journalists of the Internets.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien was the first novel I ever remember buying and reading. I was in elementary school. I read it. And then I read it again in high school. And then one more time recently for good measure — after re-reading the The Lord of the Rings for the second time. But I’ve read it. Remember that.
See, like so many reviewers have over the past weeks, the professional “popular geek culture experts” on the afore-alluded podcast were discussing the movie version of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. They had mixed feelings. Sure, it had great special effects and there was that pesky frame-rate issue that eveyone seemed hung up on, but their real beef was that it was a bit too long. It was a bit too weighty. It lingered in places it should have cut. It over-explained details that seemed like they should have been simplified. It was three hours that could have been two… oh, and how were they going to fill another two movies? It was a pan, a movie to maybe go check out on Blu-Ray in a few months, but not exactly recommended.
I admit I had a different opinion.
Having watched it not five days prior, this movie was fresh in my head. I had really actually enjoyed it. I thought it was robust and strong and it explored as much as I expected the depth of the Tolkien world that I know and love.
I mentioned that I’ve read The Hobbit a few times, but I’ve seen and heard other interpretations as well. We have the animated version at home and a long time ago I downloaded not one, but two different dramatisations of the novel that I’ve listened to on more than one occasion. In other words I know this story. I understand the world and the literature, at least as far as a casual fan should. And, again, this movie was still fresh in my head.
…a review of reviews?
The guys on the mentioned podcast are not an anomaly, I imagine… and unfortunately so. I want to make clear that this post was written not merely because I disagree with their review. Instead, it was written because I disagree with the context in which they reviewed the movie — in the context that so many reviewers have reviewed it. A subtle nuance of a review that makes the difference between spouting one’s opinion welcome versus so-much-hot-air. This one was full of air and just made me the most sad: it was the metaphorical straw that broke the metaphorical camel’s metaphorical back.
In the course of the podcasted discussion it was revealed that, while they had all seen the movie, just one — ONE — of the five hosts had actually read the novel. That’s right: One. Of five. A children’s novel. And let me just add just so that we’re clear here: they were discussing the film based on a popular and famous novel, reviewing it in the context of a novel that defined a genre of literature, and having a discussion about a film’s merits as part of a series of films based on other novels which (again!) only one-fifth of them had actually taken the time to read.
The guys were specifically not recommending it because it (to paraphrase a quote) was “too long and boring.”
Now, these are just some guys. I know that. Maybe I’m getting this all wrong, giving them too much cred… taking them for something more than the ear-candy they intend to be. But they are doing a show, and I am listening to it, spending my time and bandwidth on it, and this is a kind of meta-review… a review of reviews, and a review of the whole idea of reviews. My review is that I’m disappointed: I’m calling them to task. Well, I’m calling them to task insomuch (if on some off-chance this humble post somehow ever scrolls across their screens) that they should know that their failure has highlighted a feeling of deep disappointment for at least one person in their audience… little-ole-me. And I can call them to task here: why? Because I listened to their show. I’ve listened to many of their shows. I’ve consumed from not only the primary source that I am reviewing, but I have consumed from the secondary references, too. I’ve listened to the actual podcast, and I’m commenting on the same.
I mean, it’s simple: do your research. If you’re going to talk about the book, read the book. And for good measure, if you’re going to review a film explicitly based on a book… y’know, probably read the book. This holds exponentially more true if you are holding yourself out as some kind of pop culture guru.
The boys of this particular unnamed podcast are certainly not the first to have flubbed expectations in such a subtle but meaningful way, will not be the last, and are in the ever-growing company of those who are following an all-too-similar path. It’s lazy journalism, and one step away from writing or casting just to have the proper keywords in your content.
Yeah, failure. And not just here, but rampant throughout the layers of new media. Perhaps it is a harsh word, but I would suggest that we’ve quietly crept into a new era, an era punctuated by exactly this type of opinion and review: unsupported by anything but the fluff of layered and borrowed ideas. Is it harmful to separate ourselves from the primary sources of art and literature whilst simultaneously becoming the bold-faced champions or scowling protestor reviewing, gate-keeping, and yea-or-naying with only our superficial experiences with works of others to back us? I think so.
I think we probably all need to elevate ourselves — myself included — if we want to be the voices of the Internets, at least ones worth listening to.
Or… we could just forget about reviews as a whole and go back to forming our own opinions again. I’m considering that as a viable option all around.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit images on this post are owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment Group and/or Ballantine, and are used — unaffiliated in whole or in part with me — completely without permission. But go read the book and see the movie… it’s all pretty awesome.
I kinda want to write something political, but I also don’t particularly want to go that way.
Y’know what I mean?
The thing is this: I’m not blind. Nor deaf. Nor particularly lacking in any of my senses quite yet, actually. I’ve been quite keenly aware that South of the border today is (Capital-E, Capital-D) Election Day and that by the time we all go to bed tonight we’ll very likely have a pretty solid idea of how the next four years is going to unfold. Either Obama will win re-election and things will tick along. Or Romney will win and… well, things will just tick along.
…neither will destroy the world.
What do I believe? I believe that while there are fundamental differences between the two candidates, just as there are fundamental differences between any other two random people… neither are evil… neither are broken human beings… neither will destroy the world, though there is always the slim chance I’ll eat those words some day. And as always who really gets to feel the pain will be the folks on either tail-end of the bell curves of society and the rest of us in the middle will just tick along as usual.
True, it’s not our election. At least, it’s not our election in that we don’t get a say. But it does impact us. Everyone should care. Canadians in particular should care, at least a little bit, else risk sinking even further into that state of meta-indulgent political ignorance that is the defining intellectual rift of the twenty-first century. Canada often gets equated in metaphor to some kind of small, helpless furry mammal strapped to back of an elephant or a bull or some other large, angry beast with regards our international relationship with the United States. Where they go, we can’t help but be dragged along as their country just keeps ticking along.
Four years ago today(ish) I was in Canmore. Four years ago my life was just ticking along. I was at a planning meeting in the mountains with the rest of our staff and board from my old job. I still worked there. In fact, we were working all day, though pretty much distracted by trickles of news coming in over various cell phones. And later, after dinner in my room, I snagged a picture off the hotel television as the moment of triumph came for the Democratic campaign. I put on some shoes and a few minutes later I found some of the people I was at the meeting with in the hospitality suite. They were all watching the same thing though on a much nicer television, and there, somewhere in the mountains of Western Canada, in a business-class hotel on a chilly November evening a whole group of grown men were on the verge of crying into their drinks as they watched the live coverage. I had to leave shortly after that moment: I wasn’t crying. I was happy. I was ticking along just nicely, thank you very much…
Four years does a lot to shape political opinions. And that said, you are probably reading this right now and making assumptions and drawing lines of extrapolation about what I think and what I know and what I believe to be true. To be very clear: you shouldn’t. It’s more complex than that. It always is. If anything I’ve wrapped myself in a warm fuzzy blanket of information, history, opinion, indifference, the scars of previous battles and — very happily — many and much more simple and local priorities… and I’ve accepted that what happens is what will happen. Our cousins to the South, both literal and otherwise, will get the government they deserve — for better or worse: that’s the point of a democracy. And I’m just going to tick along here with that thought left hanging.
I’ll probably make some popcorn and watch the talking heads…
Tonight, most definitely, I’ll be glued to my television. I’ll have the iPad and some random Twitter feeds propped up beside me. I’ll probably make some popcorn and watch the talking heads, flipping between a small handful of hand-picked stations, as they all put on their grand show for the world. Analysis. Opinion. Results. Crowds. I’ll root for someone. I’ll jeer at others. I’ll watch the epic defeat of one and the marginal victory of the other. And tomorrow? Just back to ticking along?
Tick… tick… ticking along. (And that’s just a clock, by the way.)
Here we are in the last days of June… Summer has officially arrived, school is out for the season, the days grow a little more lazy and for the second year in a row I continue partaking in my daily blogging exercise, marginally focused along a question-and-answer theme I’ve simply called Those 30 posts in June. Still no planning. Still no writing of these words days in advance. Still just this: each day a meanderingly vague prompt drives a meanderingly vague post… and today that post just happens to be:
June 29th // Something You Want To Tell Others
So, I was thinking and I wanted to suggest a few things for your consideration…
Most people who give advice or opinions also have an agenda, even me Ã¢—Â technology makes it very easy to hide an agenda Ã¢—Â technology is a tool for both good and evil Ã¢—Â evil is subjective Ã¢—Â goodness is even more subjective Ã¢—Â morality is so subjective most people can’t even define it Ã¢—Â cynicism is bad, but skepticism is powerful Ã¢—Â knowledge is also power, so be a knowledge junkie and learn as much as you can about everything Ã¢—Â power is free, but spending it often has costs Ã¢—Â there is no such thing as free Ã¢—Â everybody lies, and any exception you can think of is only someone who is better at it than most Ã¢—Â always take the red pill Ã¢—Â never justify taking the red pill, to yourself or anyone else Ã¢—Â if someone asks you to dance, then dance Ã¢—Â if a child asks you to play, then play Ã¢—Â if a child asks you a question, tell them the answer only after they’ve tried to answer on their own Ã¢—Â treat others as if tomorrow really was opposite day Ã¢—Â if you can, use your legs as often as possible Ã¢—Â if you can, use your brain as often as possible Ã¢—Â before you debate anything, form your own opinions (no, really) Ã¢—Â be wary of the word “natural” and always remember that nature is actually trying to kill you Ã¢—Â eat well Ã¢—Â drink socially Ã¢—Â potatoes don’t count as vegetables, particularly once they’ve been deep fried or fermented Ã¢—Â you should run Ã¢—Â you should dream of flying but keep your feet on the ground Ã¢—Â sports are wonderful, but pro sports are corporations designed to make money Ã¢—Â corporations are just fine, but they are not people and are not owed our allegiance Ã¢—Â enough money will make you happy, but more money than that will not make you happier Ã¢—Â games are not just for kids Ã¢—Â kids are not just for parents Ã¢—Â parents need to be whole people to win the game Ã¢—Â there is no point to the game, it just is, so deal with it Ã¢—Â your beliefs are the eyelids to your heart, mind, and soul Ã¢—Â your heart will get over it Ã¢—Â your mind will wander of its own accord Ã¢—Â your soul is whatever you want it to be, but so is mine Ã¢—Â be yourself Ã¢—Â challenge yourself Ã¢—Â choose the hard way Ã¢—Â share Ã¢—Â live and let live Ã¢—Â and never, ever listen to anyone selling advice or opinions, even me…
What? Do you think writing a snarky, introspective, wannabe-philosophical blog is clever or something?
Sure. But what exactly does that make someone who is reading a snarky, introspective, wannabe-philosophical blog?
Thing is, and twenty years on, a lot of us have figured out that this internet thing is basically a vaguely-sorted, half-baked collection of documents written or otherwise created by a very large number of authors and consumed by an even larger number of netizens. Sure, you’re going to find funny stuff online, and you’re going to find garbage, too — you’re also going to find a lot of personal opinions and ideas that probably don’t fit into either category. And that’s actually a good thing, despite what some folks might say.
Problem is, a wandering band of untouchable, anonymous readers have emerged between the pages of the net. Despite a narrow and genuinely narcissistic understanding of themselves in the context of the universe, they’ve put on the hat of critic and poke through the net pushing down anything that doesn’t fulfill their narrow and short-term need to directly pleasure their mind or body. It’s sad. I see people trying to contribute — and sure, it’s not perfect. But the effort is there. And then I see the bullies emerge.
So, is this just another clever blog? Sure. But, I’d rather be one of those authors writing half-assed posts that risk becoming personal, snarky, introspective drivel, than one of the self-appointed-experts of the net proclaiming the unasked-for rite of ubiquity of content on the net. Yeah, this might not be funny or relevant to anyone but me. But who the hell are you to expect that?
Warning? This entry may contain random opinions. Read with caution and a handful of salt.
I always wanted to check out the French Quarter. Heck, I’ve seen three replicas in this short life of mine (Disney World, Disneyland, and West Edmonton Mall) and, while it’s tough to replicate a culture in any sense of the imagination, when a replica entices — well — then the original must be pretty cool. My imagination, and the colourful descriptions from various sources over the last couple days, have sculpted a mix of something approximating a blend of Vegas, Sodom, Gomorrah, Orlando, and Anaheim with the infamous odor now safely washed — horribly — under many feet of vile, salty brine. New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t wanna swim.
I’m hardly lacking sympathy. My brain is horribly distracted. I sense a great disturbance in the force. I’ve been reading dystopian literature, and in that frame of reference, mind, and scope it is hard not to imagine the end of times.
Scenarios as they play out in my head, include:
(a) This is the second low-lying chunk of humanity that is about to be washed under the ocean in just a mere eight months. Does this say something to anyone else? Climate change. Global warming. Melting icecaps. Bad Kevin Costner movies from the mid ’90s? And people think I’m crazy to live here at four-thousand feet above sea-level.
(b) The mayor of New Orleans said it’s going to be four months before people can come back to the city. Four months is long enough for many to start over somewhere newer, safer, quieter, and drier. How many people are actually going to go back? Some, yes. All? And to what? They’re planning to pump the water out and start fresh. Build a new city (the old one is drowned after all) and then what? Who pays? Who stays?
But then those are just my anxious opinions in the heat of the moment. And I swore I wouldn’t write any more opinions here than I should. But this is something that is big. Bigger than we realize right now. This is about a handful of people climbing through axed holes in their roofs to avoid drowning and hundreds of scared citizens scrambling to turn disorder into pure, random chaos through looting and violence. It is the best of humanity and the worst of humanity wrapped into a neatly televised package with crying reporters and stunned interviewees frantically proclaiming their losses into the ether. But it’s also much bigger. So much bigger.
End game. And this opponent is so much more patient than we are.
I do more with this page than meets the eye. Case-in-point: this is the nine-hundredth article spread across about ten (give or take) blog and content sites to be found in the depths of this domain. It just goes to show that I’ve been moving far too fast for my own good. I even worked through lunch today; though I did sneak out early to peek at the progress of our new living space just a twenty-minute drive away.
Consequently, the RoundUp was in mid-broadcast, and I was surrounded by audio version of a sociology lesson:
Around three-thirty this afternoon, just when the audience who needed to hear it most was busy working, the CBC conducted an insightful reflection on the general speed of the world. I can give neither the broadcasters nor the host credit for originality as it been extracted, the bulk of the context, from a guest reviewer’s opinion of a magazine article, the article itself republished from an alternative media source. Initially, I thought all that filtering would make it less valid; But no. The filtering and amplification, like so many published memes passed around some secret network (until it wound up in my ears from the speaker of my little red truck) really only makes it more potent.
My inner-most muse was very impressed. He’s a sit-back-and-smell-the-roses type of character, and I’ve been ignoring him far too much lately.
It seems, or so the article would try and impress upon us, that the world is moving too fast. Cell phones connecting us to previously untapped social and professional networks wherever we are and whenever we want, syndicated television on two-hundred channels entertaining us with the dogma of Hollywood, and the bulk of human knowledge available twenty-four hours a day to anyone with the means to buy a moderately priced computer and a high-speed Internet connection. What the article and subsequent broadcast meant to tell us is (really) that we are moving too fast in the world.
I reflected momentarily, and went back to driving down a busy road. Later I found myself sitting in front of two screens, one a television playing reruns of Seinfeld, and the other a LCD monitor checking my email and catching up on the latest news from the under-belly of technology.
This time the muse, most definitely, was not impressed. My life, after all, moves far too fast. That would be fine if I could keep up. But much of the time I’m sitting on the edge watching it all slip through my fingers and wondering why I can’t seem to find the motivation to tap out a few words on the keyboard or etch out a few lines on a clean sheet of paper, gritty charcoal in my hands.
Step one step backwards.
It’s not my objective to preach. Nor is it my objective to state abundantly obvious clichÃ¯Â¿Â½s of the nature of society in general. It’s my objective to create yet another node in this, the meme-engine. The world is moving too fast. And thus this one idea re-propogates. I state it, and it enters your brain (albeit temporarily) and perhaps one day you’ll share that notion somewhere else. Barring that, you’ll become a end-node in the network and you may not even matter to the grand scheme of things anyhow.
It’s about choice, information, and how we use it to our advantage.
I’ve been trying to recalculate something about this webspace. Doing so has made me notably absent, one may have also realized, until those unremarkable though vast bursts of creative energy are sporadically dumped into these pages. It is symtomatic of something else, and even if I tried to explain it, it would be the metaphorical tip of the iceberg to the grand scope of it all. Even Jess was reflecting on a lack of general motivation lately. I won’t try to steal her thunder, nor try to arrogantly presume that I had anything directly to do with it — but it does beg the question: in a universe created by the bursting interaction of ideas by like-minded individuals, how many nodes can collapse on that network before the engine folds in upon itself?
I am just a node after all. And not a particularly vital one at that. That’s not pitiful self-doubt writing. It’s just a quantitative fact of how many people load this page on a regular basis.
So, do we stop the world? No. The momentum would fling us all into outer space. Whatever. Then, without dropping dead of virtual exhaustion, how do I as a person sitting here with a computer on my lap make my little node vital?
I realize it isn’t the question of stopping the world. It’s a question of grokking the nature of the information, learning what is important and what is not, and filtering the filters: meta, as it were. I see you, I understand you, and I fall back to quietly leach off that energy. You presume that this is a parasitic relationship, and that by reading you’ve done your part. I understand it to be symbiotic. I guess it starts there: I write another nine-hundred pages of rambling giberish, contribute to the digital swath of information, and narrow those filters just a little more.
You? Well, that’s really not my decision.
Read this slowly, in a longing — sad — sort of way. Like your facing the inevitable.
It’s not that I’m tired of being political, but with the looming elections (here and abroad) the issues have become clouded in a media frenzy of fragmented, quasi-facts. Things are mis-shapen, changed, or manipulated to form orwellian truths. The slide, we realize too late, is in progress. I see a pattern emerging, and it only those with even more raw opinions than myself who will be able to step from the ebbs and tides of the city’s lights and project their strength to the rest of us. It’s not that big brother is watching. It’s that there are echos of uncertainty in what that even means anymore.
I stumbled across a blog last night that had been written by yet another a tangled soul. He had filled a page with hollow comments about the crumbling of society (in his opinion) by the shift away from (in my words) the intolerance of rigid-class America. The partisan bashing — the ignorance — the arrogance that I see everywhere now broke through somewhere, so I flamed him. Annonymously, I wrote that he was a drone in a society that was like an unruley bully, slowly maturing and realizing what he interpretted as respect from others was actually fear and hate — but unable to cope with that realization, continued to turn to force and pain to exert his will. I told him he had just not explained why society was crumbling, but rather, through his rant, demonstrated the attitutes that will eventually allow the tides of fear to break across the shores of calm, and wreak havoc.
It was a short comment, about one paragraph in length, and I went back this morning to see if there had been a retort — an angry comment — anything.
The blog had been deleted. Oddly enough, I don’t think people realize that others listen and read when they say or write silly things. And I don’t think those same people realize that harsh opinions are open to harsher citicism.
I really have no opinion. I have thoughts and worries, and sometimes I need to explain them in words. Mostly, though, I’m apolitica, in the most maniplated of meanings. I care, deeply, but sometimes it seems like trying to convince a can of yellow paint that it is really a can of yellow paint, when the can of yellow paint thinks it’s a yellow lemon. Everyone else knows, but what can one do?
There are bends in reality. I can see them. I can feel outside influences. We go on with our lives like the wars and the hostages are characters in a really dramatic reality tv show that people are just bored of watching. And folks sit back and suggest that there should be limits to freedom — or that equality is great, as long as it only applies to a finite and narrow set of “us.” So I dare you. Flame me. Write your narrow-minded comments below. Tell me how world decay can only be solved by brute intolerance and the blind application of political systems on foreign cultures. Explain to me in your stilted arrogance everything you think you believe. I’ll laugh. Then, I’ll sigh. Then I’ll feel sad that the world is slipping in the long, dark fundamentals of unpredictable anarchy.
It is that. And that is all.