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Re: Politikal Korrektness rears its appearance-challenged head



dear Dog,
I think what I mean is not so much a matter of kind as it is of degree. And
in this, as in many other instances in the cultures and economies of modern
'mass' societies, quantity does profoundly effect quality, i.e., the
essential nature of what we receive. So. Anyway. The printing press
introduced fundamental changes. But I think the analogy is weak. Easy, yes.
But more apparent than real. I believe there is a point, as is
well-illustrated in the sciences, where, say, heat for example, or some other
form of energy, when introduced into a given material, radically alters its
fundamental characteristics/properties. In other words, quantitative increase
results in qualitiative change. This is true from the tiniest particle to the
largest and most complex physical/biological/cultural system.
Anyway. It's my belief that it's not how much you know, but how well you know
it. The quantitative assumptions embodied by many of the recent technologies,
and represented via increased access/availability of information, are a
'false' wellspring. Quantity of information, obsolescence of info., --its
ephemeral nature--is the "trashiness" that I referred to (and got into so
much trouble about...). Ideas, concepts, language, thought itself, are no
longer shaped to last; rather, they seem to comprise a 'house of cards,' and
thus, feed an arrogance that only reinforces our isolation. We tend to
shelter beneath broad assumptions about the beneficence and efficacy of
systems and trends over which we have little or no control. This preserves
our sense of respectability, well-being, etc., from any realization of the
need for the exercising of independent judgment or discernment, and defends
as well those portions of our identities which are bound up in the ethos of
sociological or technical/industrial juggernauts such as the ones here in
question. We tend not to enquire as to the potential dangers or damage that
might be incurred by entrusting our own welfare to these systematic
activities, so habitual has their acceptance become.
Finally, the diatribes launched on this medium (ah, this one, too) are a
vital indication of its nature.
What I mean is, things are said in a manner inadmissable to any venue of
serious discourse. There is no eye contact, no facial expression, no vocal
intonation or 'pitch', no 'body language', visible or aural irony, i.e., no
sense of presence to mediate and inform its participants. E-mail is not
employed with the same level of skill, consideration, and narrative integrity
that the novelist, essayist, poet or accomplished letterwriter uses. It is by
its nature reductive and ephemeral. Therefore, what it inspires in us is
reductive and ephemeral. I think it's unsuited for the transmission of what's
best in us.
It's great for sharing 'recipes,' how-to's, how-do's, advice, information
about the world 'outside.' But artificial memory must not do for us what is
so important to do for ourselves. It's an architecture of storage,
classification, clerical functions and computation. It inundates our lives
with information without investing them with the discernment which results
from those 'accidents' of enlightenment that occur while we negotiate the
twilight region between physical reality and our intellectual goals--in fact,
that civilize those goals.
If you have read all this, thanks for hearing me out.

yrs truly,
Joel Spector


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