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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Like most things Disney, Tomorrowland is a delicious snack of seeming subsistence. This movie is chock full of “I wanna believe” and “I must be a terrible person if I don’t believe” sentiments and relationships. “We are the future”, “I can make it work”, “Light and hope – the wolf you feed”, “You still have hope”, “Anything is possible” and “We make our destiny” – are just a few of the inspirational tugs. The story itself is cute, watchable and, by in large, moving. And herein lies The Problem.

Human Progress is Not A Thing

Human Progress is Not A Thing

In an ironic twist, if that’s even an American possibility anymore, Tomorrowland, violating its own story premise, espouses overly simplified, imagination-limiting Propaganda. The movie presents the future worth chasing as people standing in amber waves of grain aweing at a technological, automated city of industry and digitization out in the distance. Hard to be irritated by the vision all of us Americans have been sold since the nanosecond we were conceived. The irony of this vision in this movie is that the realization of this future, and the children sold into it, end up creating the technology that brainwashes the world into its own destruction.

The bigger philosophical, ethical issue is that humans by in large cannot imagine a future without humans at the center of it. And in America we can’t sincerely adopt a future without technology and industry made by humans. Americans, and most “developed” societies, mostly do not view non-human growth, creativity, and prosperity on the same level as human efforts. We justify our existence by our ability to continually re-wreak havoc on the world so our human solutions can prevail again! Us humans do have a remarkable ability to solve various issues, especially through technology. But is it remarkable enough to justify our existence, and more pressingly, our proliferation in time and space?

Tomorrowland and the millions of other political, cultural narratives will never be able to ask questions penetrating enough to even hint at a possible justification. These narratives survive and thrive by preying on cognitive bias – asking “is my existence justified?”, “is my worldview accurate?”, “is my limited perception sufficient for external imposition?” isn’t exactly the stuff of mega block buster movies, toy shelf marketing, school room pledges, company missions and political campaigns. And we as consumers and producers of these narratives will not be able to imagine, adopt and create a future worth having nor even a possible future if we can’t ask those questions. The future contemplated by this Dream of the Dreamers is not one that can exist – a perpetual recycle of humans at the center of everything isn’t really a thing has been clearly demonstrated by 13.5 billion years of the universe doing its thing.

Are there popular narratives and dialectics that seem to ask deeper questions – things like “Planet of the Apes” to “The Singularity” movement to posthumanism to mathematics to most philosophy books and departments? On the surface all these things all seem to contemplate non-human centrality but they still all have anthropomorphic aspirations at their core. Anthropomorphism is very hard, if down right impossible, to avoid.

The way forward may be not be forward at all. That is, progress is a very misguided, humanistic concept. Progress is at best a relative, self-serving concept, it is not a physical law or a feature of the universe. It is a misguided concept because it guides at all. The Dream of the Dreamers is always one of Progress, never one of restraint or contemplation or admission or apology or submission.

Inside of me there is a battle. All these questions well up and make me feel like a bad father for not wanting to pass on “wisdom” but only questions. I’m a bad capitalist for questioning the unending creative destructive power of markets. I’m a bad American for questioning The Dream of the Dreamers. I’m a bad creator of technology for anguishing over its ultimate value. I’m a bad person-person for not having an identify or a mission or end goal or a five year plan and question my own centrality to my own existence. I’m a bad artist and writer for lacking happy, hopeful endings and conclusions – never answer a question with a question! I’m a bad revolutionary for not fighting every fight. and I’m definitely a bad philosopher for having no particular philosophy at all. Right?!

The Dream of the Dreamers is potent because it certainly makes for pleasant sleep and a comfortable way to get out of bed and get on with the day’s work. But it is not reality it is marketing against reality. And it is more de-pressing than the struggle with unanswerable questions.

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Dr. Joseph E. Lowery’s Benediction Transcript @ President Obama’s Inauguration

Can there be any question of the power of words?

Can there be any mystery why the sophisticated symbolism of words binds people to…

  • Others
  • Ideals
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Dogma
  • Superstition
  • Loss
  • Hope?

This learned set of symbols… these words… in whatever language they form… are powerful. Words have a value that connects people reading and hearing them as well as separates those not understanding those words.

Based on past histories and current contexts words rouse unforgettable warmth or irreconcilable anger which, in term, become learned by those experiencing them and watching others experience them. It is a reciprocal relationship; words represent traditions and traditions represent words (as we witnessed with the second swearing in of President Obama). When repeated over and over words morph oh so slowly while becoming ingrained in the fabric of civilization. Traditions, including those of religion, bigotry, superstition, inaugurations and funerals are indelible links between people all represented by words.

Sam Harris in “The End of Faith,” has many logical points concerning traditions, superstition and cultures as do so many others including this author. However, at one time or another we all miss another point that gets lost in emotional [ratio strain] self-righteousness; being right is a relative target and is not what everyone values. One thing for sure is that we all value some words organized in some order representing some experiences.

The changes Sam Harris and others search for will come only through a process of selection by consequences. The things that will replace bigotry and fear and traditions of hate must be learned just as the superstitions and belief systems they were based on were learned. If that is the case, and it most assuredly is, Sam and some of the others will not be here to celebrate a new form of enlightenment where understanding the elemental basis of how behavior works is a primary requirement of primary school graduation.

While we work for all those words describing the elements of understanding behavior in our culture we can appreciate Dr. Lowery’s words for what they represent: a plea to figure out what the heck is going on out there.

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So, the question comes up more than once…

“What’s different about the changes that occurred in the 60’s and 70’s from the changes we are experiencing during our current crisis?”

There are not many parallels between the two times because they are as different as the 50 years apart that separates them. ALL the context is different. How could they possibly be similar?

First of all, we are just started the reaction and the responses to the last seven years and the 31 years leading up to this. It has just begun. You didn’t think it was some Palooka on Wall Street or in corporate America that made this happen, did you?

There are a lot of things that came together in the 60s and 70s that made them what they were and there are a lot of things that are converging now to make this what it will be. That is where the similarities probably end.

The 60s and 70s was the push back against repression, control, delayed gratification and isolation. The early 60s was a set of things in opposition to the status quo…. then other things came together, not by plan but by their own path and the confluence went POW!

Music was the medium like the Internet is today… But, no one had any idea what they were experiencing and it wasn’t because of the drugs or music.  Caesar didn’t realize what was going on either. It was just what was happening.

There were waves of change between the surfers-dudes and the button-down guys represented on the one hand by parents, Pat Boone, The Kingston Trio and, on the other, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the Birds or Jefferson Airplane.

  • Drugs, sex and rock and roll
  • The pill
  • The war – the draft – the secrecy
  • The car
  • Woman’s liberation
  • The idealists

The “pill” represented freedoms never imagined as did the car. Both were escapes from mom and dad’s world… In a similar but opposing ways, Britney Spears music is devoid of any content relating to the world today as the Zits cartoon series is today.  The 60s and 70s had irreverent tunes and MAD magazine… Both ‘anti-now’.

But where is the VOICE of today? I don’t mean the Village Voice, which morphed into respectability and successfully collects ad revenue to support circulation of its coffee house rebels. I mean the “VOICE” of someone calling the ball on what has happened in America. That means accounting for losses as well as our mis-gotten “gains”. Whose voice is going to ring out to address America’s privatized profit but socializes risk, isolation from allies, might-makes-right arrogance and the branding of ‘Democracy’ through colonization?

We have untold messages yelling at us about losing allies, losing hope, losing dialogue, losing respect, losing trust and openness that is displaced with secrecy, fear and loathing of anyone different from us including our government and the other boss in the corner office.

What are you willing to give up? Cassias Clay was willing to lose everything. Martin Luther King Jr. did. Freedom riders, lunch counter activists and everything in between including those who were caught when the world changed on them like it has today for us.   You know who I am talking about; the cops that thought they were doing the right things, the governors, the FBI, the soldiers, the parents… they were All doing what they were told was right even if it was the opposite from what those they were repressing had been told.

If you have no answers, the next 12 years aren’t going to be a good time for you in America or Europe, or Japan or… You will end up sour and ailing because today you are witnessing the tree of entitlements being cut down. It will take years to grow another. What is the expression in business? “He is a dead man just looking for a place to lie down!”

So, where is the lightening rod for change from all this doom and gloom?   Where is that person going to come from? Come on; use that teraflop of processing power and your angry brain to generate something you like.

  • Is it the blogs?
  • The social communities?
  • The recipient paparazzi replacing investigative reporting?

With all the complexity, technology, information, misinformation and confusion…what we’ve done in the past isn’t going to be what we do in the future.    Some prognostications:

  1. More suffering as the financial stuff sinks in and new things will rise out of the ashes.

Hard times are going to drive a new of barter or “in-kind” exchange. Will it be a cottage industry economy? Will it be a network community sensitive to exchange and barter… a Woot.com for product and services grow up? I am guessing it will be those types of things.

That will result in the middle man being taken out of the formula for commence more and more.  That is unemployment and that leads to some heart ache but change.  If it didn’t we’d be using buggy whips today…

2.   Having a black President is a lightening rod! Having a President with a vision will draw the volts    and colts as needed.

    Now the insurgents in our own country will be running for the caves. And when they come out we, the people, have to meet them. We have to find our cohones and get them in the game.  You don’t need to change them; just participate.  After the election we’re going to hear and see some nasty stuff. If anything happens to the President there are going to be riots for all sorts of reasons and it won’t be only if our black president is gone.

    This all sucks you know… it sucks because it is not COMPLEX. It sucks because we have to experience it to grow.

    All the money and power falls apart at our feet without the slightest bit of introspection. We’ve had no introspection and we all are the greedy ones living outside our means.

    For them and for us, it’s all about the race, the chase, the game for positions and status. Trouble is, once you’ve arrived, where are you? We are rudderless now.  Our experiences will put us on a course with a world view rather than a mirror view.

    It is as reported to be for us and for our government?   Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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