The pettiness of the 21st century is surprising: a guy buys a pricey HD TV so he can watch Fox News discuss “did the CIA’s ex-master’s mistress spill the beans on Benghazi in bed?”
Nationalism goes National Enquirer.
Posted by Intomorrow on 11/13 at 07:28 AM
...but in truth, it can’t accurately be said the situation has become worse; at least at this time not technoculturally. The biosphere is something to worry about however it can’t be said for sure life has worsened technoculturally; it doesn’t ‘seem’ worse now than when the overall crime rate heightened in the second half of the ‘80s. It’s not better today yet it has leveled out, most of you remember the rise in homelessness, AIDs, drug addiction, etc., a quarter century ago.
Again, the pettiness is what is surprising: in 1987 I had thought the 21st century would see less tabloidization of the psychosphere, less scandal-mongering. Looking ahead in the ‘80s, an optimistic person wouldn’t expect that a quarter century ahead the public would use cellphones to do electronic purchases of communication devices so scores of millions could watch and listen to a CIA soap opera. Perhaps a quarter century ago it was predictable it would come to this—but not inevitable. Maybe the sordid violence of the past is being superseded by sordid sexuality.. instead of a scandal wherein a foreign leader is assassinated by intelligence agents, a mistress writes a book about bedtime revelations involving classified secrets.
What is cause for concern (though it has always been this way) is how jingoists are completely without compassion for other nations,other peoples. All nationalists talk about when foreign affairs are broached is how our nation is all that matters and we have to eliminate everyone who gets in our way, anyone who poses the slightest threat.
In any case there’s an easy explanation: it’s the human genome in action. And more specifically our stone age brains. Perhaps also it has to do with the breakdown of religion: now that we don’t believe in God any more, we need to find other ways to amuse ourselves.
As far as solutions are concerned (because I agree with you that this is a problem), as always I see mindfulness (in the Western psychology rather than strictly Buddhist sense) as key. To a large extent our superficiality is driven by the ease with which we are led to focus on the superficial in opposition to our longer-term interests. Mindfulness helps us to become more aware of this, and to stay focused on longer-term goals. At least that’s what I’ve found.
Hadn’t seen your second comment Intomorrow. Yes I agree nationalism is a major concern, not least here in Europe where I sometimes feel like solidarity between, and even with, nations is breaking down altogether.
But again, we should not complain about things unless we are planning on doing something about them. Part of the problem we have today is that too many people complain, and not enough of us are really interested in doing something about what they are complaining about. Of course, complaining can itself have value, but there’s altogether too much of it in my view. I prefer to focus on solutions, and while mindfulness is by no means the whole story, I think it is one of the most powerful and promising technologies we have, especially now that it has been refined in the crucible of modern science.
Posted by Intomorrow on 11/13 at 03:17 PM
“Hadn’t seen your second comment Intomorrow. Yes I agree nationalism is a major concern, not least here in Europe where I sometimes feel like solidarity between, and even with, nations is breaking down altogether.
But again, we should not complain about things unless we are planning on doing something about them. Part of the problem we have today is that too many people complain, and not enough of us are really interested in doing something about what they are complaining about. Of course, complaining can itself have value, but there’s altogether too much of it in my view. I prefer to focus on solutions, and while mindfulness is by no means the whole story, I think it is one of the most powerful and promising technologies we have, especially now that it has been refined in the crucible of modern science.”
Right on all counts. One question is: since Europe is more densely populated and has the much longer history, is there a greater awareness of interconnectedness? I read a couple years ago about precautions Germans take to avoid polluting their farmlands, and cases of N. European nations being more aware of such factors—though what I’ve read may be isolated examples. As for complaining, naturally it goes without saying you are correct; but here it is a real, deliberate, double-bind; when one wants to change the status quo, you are considered complaining by way of rocking the boat; but if one lets things slide via acquiesence in the status quo one is negligent! Countless Rightists are conflicted: they want change, but they want the patrimony to remain as it is.. very difficult to arrange outside of VR. Think of what the ludicrous CIA scandal signifies: old values v. newer values acted out as if it were a play- a bad one; and it is merely one example of the conflicts
I honestly do not see how we can have 1776 and 2012 at one ‘n the the same time. Yet as you amost certainly know it is six of one, half a dozen of another: for instance if I moved to Scandinavia there would be more authentic friendships however there’s not the engine—a violent engine—of change that China and the US possess—that we are.
Rightists are not the only ones who are conflicted. Most of us have incompatible or unrealisable desires. To be conservative means to want things to stay more or less as they are, or perhaps go back to some earlier idyll. Beyond a certain point it becomes unrealistic, but are progressives necessarily less so? Progressives want to propel ourselves towards some kind of bright, positive future, but that can be no less contradictory or wishful. And do we even know we’ll like it if we get there? Especially if we ourselves have been so transformed that we are no longer the same people that are dreaming now.
But you’re right about one thing: nostalgia is a poor recipe for future happiness. We need to have a vision that is at least *future-compatible*, even if it is to some extent rooted in a past idyll. Rightists complain, especially following the election result, that the old world is passing away. At least they’re beginning to realise it. And that really IS progress.
In the mean time, leftists indulge paranoid anger-fantasies about the “global elite”. It’s not that there isn’t a global elite, of a sort, but they’re not all bad, and frankly I think we need them. Those that rail against “the system”, and imagine they can prosper without it, are as delusional as any conservative.
Posted by Intomorrow on 11/13 at 07:25 PM
What you write is valid to the point of all being a given. Keep in mind one can’t go into comprehensive detail without being lost in semantics—writing an article on it would turn into a complete abstraction. What I did above was start off with a random but ready-made example of anachronism—ludicrous anachronism—in the news, the CIA scandal; and discuss ‘Rightists’ because there’s no purpose in attempting to communicate with them, thus a technoprogressive site is the only way to go for me: in America, if one wants to get involved, one will argue with contrarians the rest of one’s life. It is like that here.
In this you get to the heart of it:
“do we even know we’ll like it if we get there? Especially if we ourselves have been so transformed that we are no longer the same people that are dreaming now.”
When we change what it is like to be human as we know human to be, we change conventions (the memes making up what we call our heritage) so we transmogrify the original morality in the process. But such is for pros to examine.. what I’m focusing on is how can one, again, live in the Newtonian world of the 18th- 19th centuries yet also live in the 21st century? The majority of Americans live inside what you and I might consider to be an outmoded (however cozy) worldview. And what is politics?: when you strip away the garbage you are left with politics being organising (or disorganising) the world around us by manipulating symbols.
So all I’m writing above in the previous comments is that if we are so stuck in the past as we appear to be, to say *don’t complain, change things* means one has to slog it out with people whose job it is to do so. The way it is set up is roughly what the Framers wanted.. though it is in fact anachronistic by our technoprogressive lights, it’s the job of the old-fashioned, their careers, to hold onto anachronism.
I have to evade their clutches, Pete, it is part of the intense dynamic in America- one definition of a pioneer is somebody with an arrow in their back.