Wednesday, February 20, 2013
WWH/CJE Soapbox: Stop Me If You've Heard This
Stop me if you've heard this before:
There's a poster/"meme" floating round among my crowd on F-book which features a memorable passage from an Aldous Huxley book (for the number and sagacity of which he was quite rightly honored and renowned) to the effect that "there will be in a generation or two, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude..."
I contend that Huxley dreamed too small. There is, indeed, now such an opiate, but it is not produced in any pharmacy: It's called "commercial television." And it doesn't need additional pharmacological components; just the flickering, blue screen. It is quite mesmerizing, and the messages--called programs and commercials--crafted for it convey such an array of clever and subtle propagandas wiuth such care and attention and at such expense at so MANY levels of awareness that it is QUITE impossible to resist all of them.
I almost wish it were as simple as giving us all a potion to swig or a cocktail of them. Bring on the Soma.
But it's all done, quite simply, with the glowing screen, before which children are stationed from their very first breaths, and from which they do not EVER stray far--a lock-grip now, with all the portable devices, made all the easier to exert and all the LESS unusual..It's pharmacological to the extent that it's neuro-chemical. If you watch 'em, though, people consulting their Ipads/pods/etc are just as furiously pursuing a fix as any junkie chasing down a needle and a nickel bag.
Well, shout the scolds who are now just starting to notice that things are NOT as rosy as they had been led their lives-long to believe and cherish, you let it happen! WE let it happen!
No, "We" didn't "let it happen." That's a filthy canard. In a class with free will. It's exactly the way rapists can blame their prey for being there to be raped. The "You could have stopped it!" meme requires US--the victims--take the blame for what was done TO us. Consciously, with forethought and premeditation. And with terrible resolve.
We gotta understand what "we" would have had to have prohibited. To do that we gotta go back about 100 years, for practical purposes--though the story really begins with the 'discovery" of the "Masses" bu sociologists a generation or so before. Guys with names like Weber and Durkheim. Directly and indirectly, they influenced Sigmund Freud, and Freud changed everything--especially later.
Freud had a nephew in America named Edward Bernays, one of that generation of Americans who were to Wilson what the vanguard intellectuals were to Lenin, with whom they were all contemporaries. Bernays took an interest in his uncle's insights about human motivation--sex and death, the centrala ones--and he recognized in that insight a clue to controlling the Masses which were quickly and soon burgeoning and clamoring for influence. But he was also an eclectic reader and man of letters, He had an European university education, so was fluent in several languages and conversant in many fields.
I admit that this point is speculative on my part. I haven't done the digging to irrebuttably support the claim I'm about to make, but it seems irrefutable to me that Bernays saw the connections and implications among Pavlov's work in what we now call "operant conditioning," and he would certainly have been fluent in the instrumentalist ethics of industrial "Taylorism"--what is now called "scientific management"--and he was already versed in his uncle's "eros" and "thanatos" understandings. He mumbled a few words, in about 1919, and invented the Public Relations industry which has, in various forms and constellations, controlled the destiny of the planet for the next, now almost a century.
"We" had no more possibility of resisting tha onslaught than an ant colony can resist a flood.
And , No, "we" didn't try to "stop it" or to "prevent" it.
But hat again is a canard.
Stop what? Prevent what? The most extravagant spree of national consumption in history?
There were folks who foresaw it: Ed Abbey, for one.
But the appeal was overwhelmig.
It rode--fuck, it exploited--the euphoria of the USer/Allied victories in WW II. It was part of the "American Dream."
The new cars, and the rituals that attended their annual unveiling?
How old were you, when they sat you down the first time. If you were born after 1955, you were a captive of the flickering screen before your first birthday. The genius of the thing is the flickering screen. Human vision began its evolution in the water, where you must pay attention to flickering because that's how most predators look when they're fixing to have you for dinner. Our eyes evolved to be perfect receptors for the (first) motion picture and then the seemingly now endless permutations of the blinking pixel. It's bloody mesmerizing. Watch a room where there's a tv screen on but no images on it. People keep checking over there, checking that they're not missing something
And don't make the BIGGER mistake of claiming to be immune. You're not.
If you think there's a difference between Bud and Coors, or Nike/Puma, or Dodge/Ford, then you've been recruited, brother.