The Information Superhighway, The Feeling of Absurdity, Something is Inherently.
This is a very thoughtful, almost meditative essay that recalls to mind all the warnings that were issued in the mid-twentieth century about the nature of information and of propaganda.
Here’s the snip:
Albert Camus once said that “at any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.” While that is still true today, I would add that the feeling of an agitated and distracted bewilderment is everywhere to be seen as multitudes scan their idiot boxes for the latest revelations. Beeping and peeping, they momentarily quell their nervous anxieties by being informed and simulating proximity through the ether. Permanently busy in their mediated “reality,” they watch as streaming data are instantly succeeded by streaming data in acts of digital dementia. For Camus the absurd was a starting point for a freer world of rebellion. For Walter Lippman, the influential journalist and adviser to presidents and potentates, “the bewildered herd” – his name for regular people, the 99 % – was a beginning and a wished for end. His elites, the 1 %, would bewilder the herd in order to control them. His wish has come true.
A surfeit of information, fundamental to modern propaganda, prevents people from forming considered judgments. It paralyzes them. Jacques Ellul writes in Propaganda:
Continuous propaganda exceeds the individual’s capacity for attention or adaptations. This trait of continuity explains why propaganda can indulge in sudden twists and turns. It is always surprising that the content of propaganda can be so inconsistent that it can approve today what it condemned yesterday.
…Wherever you go in the United States these days, you sense a generalized panic and an inability to slow down and focus. Depression, anxiety, hopelessness fill the air. Most people sense that something is seriously wrong, but don’t know exactly what. So they rage and rant and scurry along in a frenzy. It seems so huge, so everything, so indescribable. Minds like pointilliste canvases with thousands of data dots and no connections.
In the mid-1990s, when the electronic world of computers and the internet were being shoved down our throats by a consortium of national security state and computer company operatives (gladly swallowed then by many and now resulting in today’s total surveillance state), I became a member of The Lead Pencil Club foundered by Bill Henderson (The Pushcart Press) in honor of Thoreau’s father’s pencil factory and meant as a whimsical protest: “a pothole on the information superhighway.” There were perhaps 37 1/3 members worldwide, no membership roll, and no dues – just a commitment to use pencils to write and think slowly.FanBoy, bemildred, dreamnightwind and 5 othersHubHeaver, bbgrunt, Tuesday, The Crone, Peace Patriot like this
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