Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Reconnecting to the World

For better or worse, my life is now fully reintegrated into the world of electronica. I realize that there is no such word, at least until now … but it seems rather appropriate in an age where my cell phone is used as my alarm clock, my Palm Pilot “talks” to my computer, ensuring that I never miss an appointment, coordinating alarms and reminders so that my life is a perfectly orchestrated ballet that runs perfectly smooth … so long as I turn on the dreaded devices.

Of course, the entire house of cards disintegrates if, God forbid, I don’t turn my computer on as soon as I get out of my bed in the morning – or check my Palm to see what my schedule has on it for the day. It hasn’t happened often, but when I have been that rebellious (in that I’ve shunned the electronica in my life) I actually have missed something that was important. I decided that it was an object lesson: that great Universal Power that we are all subject too (regardless of our beliefs) was exerting its influence on my life by giving me a little nudge, just to remind me that, having created all of these gadgets and devices, it had declared that “it was good”.

I am now consigned to the belief that there truly is no escape. Just this afternoon I met an old friend while I was downtown. Instead of exchanging phone numbers, as was the natural course of things several years ago, we exchanged email addresses. Instead of looking forward to hearing someone’s voice on the other end of the phone all I can look forward to is the cold, toneless collection of words that falls into my inbox with countless other pieces of “mail”. These pieces of “mail” including ads for various versions of penile erection agents, the latest hot tips for the stock market, dozens of pleas to help billionaires in numerous African countries save their fortunes by giving them my banking information (yeah, right!), and so many other pieces of crud that I almost don’t even want to check my mail.

When I was “disconnected” from this wonderful world of electronica I discovered something truly important: the amount of time away from email did not have any bearing on the number of important messages in my inbox. The first time I checked my messages, after over two weeks, I had over seventy messages, out of which there were about five that were of any real significance … notwithstanding the several from my father who was convinced that I had died as a result of my silence (I have since established a way to prevent such a silence from occurring again).

The most interesting aspect of this was how it relates to something else that is totally unrelated, and yet related. For the month of October I was house sitting while my mother and stepfather went on an extended vacation. While I was there they received over thirty-eight telephone calls that left messages, but of the messages left only about four were actually important. This confirms something of great importance that I have suspected for some time: it doesn’t matter the means by which a message is transmitted, humanity is losing the ability to communicate effectively.

This is especially fascinating to me as I am currently reading “Synchronicity” by Jung as part of my study for the chapter that I’m currently working on; it serves as an example of what Jung describes in his essay (but that is another story for another time).

The more we rely on the electronica that has insinuated itself in our lives, the more we find that it is difficult to clearly develop a well-articulated thought that expresses everything we need to say. As an example of this, all that needs to be done is point out the electoral system of the United States of America. Here we have a political system in which an elected member of Congress has been an active sexual predator for years, using the Congressional Page’s as his hunting ground. While Mr. Foley may have resigned, his legacy remains, if the people are able to see through the smokescreens that are being thrown up by the political machines running desperately towards the finish line (election day).

Political attack ads, the “highest form” of that greatest achievement of human culture, advertising (something that, in and of itself, is enough to condemn our species on the grounds that it represents us as being wholly without merit), are doing everything they can to mitigate the damage caused by “penisgate” (not to mention Iraq, the ever-increasing body count of U.S. soldiers coming home from an unpopular war, the President’s below 40% approval rating, and a myriad of other issues) without, of course, resorting to saying anything that resembles the truth.

Things have gotten so crazy with the Republicans and their desperation to retain their position of power after these mid-term elections that some candidates have taken to aligning themselves with popular Democrats! Even the Governator, Ahnold – the Governor of the State of California, which is a state that has an economy that is the 13th largest in the WORLD admitted in an interview with Tom Brokow that there were issues with which he didn’t agree with President Bush … this is something that he would have never said two years ago when he was one of the most conservative Republicans in the book. Now, after two years in office (and, who knows, some time away from Mrs. S?) his opinions seem to have moderated – quite severely.

But in the end it all comes down to being able to express our ideas. This is a problem that one person in the world in particular struggles with; I speak, of course, of the president of the United States of America, George W. Bush. In a time when clear communication is needed the most, when the world could benefit from a world leader who could have an air of confidence and assurance as he addressed the nation (and the rest of the world) we are instead left with a blathering idiot who isn’t able to even recall the invention of video which is used to recall the things he denies having said (which are then replayed immediately after his denial).

It would be terribly funny if so many people weren’t dying, and if he didn’t have another two years to terrorize the world with his ineptitude.

This is the problem with the world of electronica. We are victimized by the slickest campaigns, by those who spend the most on the marketing specialists and who plug into the collective psyche of the public – as interpreted by the “experts” in the field. Of course, this reminds me of the saying, “one billion Chinese can’t be wrong” in relation to an old advertising campaign. Yes they can. It is a fallacy in logic to believe that just because “x” number of people believe something it must be true. The fact of the matter is that the truth has absolutely nothing to do with the number of people that believe it is the truth.

Consider the situation of Galileo. When he made his discovery that the Earth was not the centre of the Universe but rather just another part that circled a star that moved through a great expanse of stars he was arrested and charged with a crime. The Church of Rome wanted to suppress what Galileo was saying, not because it wasn’t untrue, but because it went against what they were teaching. If one man was right, millions (or however many there were) Roman Catholics were wrong. How could this be? How could such a large group of people be duped so completely, so entirely that they would reject the truth when it is presented to them? The answer is quite simple, and it is paralleled by the political situation in the United States (and in other “democratic” countries today): those in power controlled the dissemination of the “truth”.

We have to bear in mind that when Galileo made his discovery he didn’t go online and create a blog entitled “Earth Circles Sun”, nor did he call up the Astronomic Society of Italy to have them issue an immediate dispatch to every astronomy club around the world. There was no such thing as “mass communication” in his day. There was no air-mail, nor was there anything like radio or telephone: this was the age that was truly unencumbered by the electronic tentacles have worked their way into virtually every part of our lives.

For Galileo, communication with “authority” meant going to the Church. This also meant that his discovery was to be his undoing. Unfortunately for Galileo, the Roman Church seemed to have forgotten the scripture about “the truth setting you free”, for that was all he was doing; for telling the Church what he had discovered he was persecuted and oppressed, just as those who have stood up against the unethical actions of the Bush administration.

For as long as the war in Iraq has been going on there have been people who have questioned its moral and ethical foundations. Now, years later, with all the information garnered from the 9/11 Commission and other sources we know that there is, in fact, no moral or ethical foundation for the war. It is a war that never should have been started, but does that truth have any effect on the fact that the president of the last superpower is intent on winning this escalating civil war? Of course it doesn’t.

At a time when the president could be taking the opportunity to be planning and executing an exit strategy that could save the lives of countless American servicemen and women the president has instead chosen to change the language with which he refers to the situation. Instead of saying that we’re going to “stay the course”, a term that has been flogged more a boatload of slaves crossing the Atlantic, they are trying to “soften” the language being used in reference to the war. On the surface there isn’t anything wrong with that, save for the fact that the hapless Press Secretary for the president decided that it was best to try and be dismissive of the entire issue and say that the phrase “stay the course” hadn’t even been said more than a handful of times … about eight, or so.

Well, it didn’t take too long (remember the invention of video tape mentioned earlier … now a new, improved electronica version called DVD) for the press to start looking and they were quickly showing streams of President Bush saying the words “stay the course” on at least forty occasions. It wasn’t as though he was saying it in anything important, like the State of the Union address (oops), or other (numerous) televised addresses (oh, they were all recorded, weren’t they … that’s the point of this, isn’t it?), it’s that someone in the inner sanctum of the president, someone close enough to have their ideas turned into actions, is actually stupid enough to suggest that it is possible to deny that something you’ve been saying for the past five years can be just forgotten by the collective population, and nobody will notice.

The media is currently involved in a feeding frenzy of advertisements as the election draws closer. News reports constantly bombard us with the latest on how bad the Republicans have really been while in power, and how wrong the war really is (not that war is good in other circumstances). This is an unjust government fighting an unjust war with an unjust president who cannot tell the truth to save his life.

This is all made even more possible by the fact that we are all so much more connected to sources of information than we have ever been at any other time in history. Unfortunately, as has been seen, being connected to information doesn’t necessarily mean that we will access something that provides us with the truth. You can have your computer on twenty-four hours a day, as well as your television and radio, but if your website of choice displays only one side of the story and you only watch Fox News, how can you be sure you are getting valid information?

The plethora of information that we have at our fingertips is only worth as much as we ascribe to it when it is used properly. Our economy is being transformed into an information-based economy, but everything that is being passed along through email and on the Internet does not necessarily have any value. For the most part it is material that has absolutely no value, just as the words of a man with no integrity have no bearing on the way you live your life, unless he happens to be the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.

In the end, and it always seems to come down to this, having been re-connected I am left wondering about the “miracle” of modern technology and my place amongst the ever expanding plethora of electronica that seek to become a part of everyday life. After the computer, cell phone, Palm Pilot, electronic piano and electric guitar (Not MIDI!) … well, I don’t know … what more can there be?

On second thought, don’t answer that.

As for the upcoming elections in America, suffice it to say, we are at a watershed moment in history: is it conceivable that the voting public in the United States could actually continue to support the party that has, without any shadow of a doubt, been demonstrated to have deceived, lied, obfuscated and fabricated the circumstances necessary for a bloody personal war that was always a part of the president’s personal agenda. The deaths of thousand’s of Americans – more than were killed in the 9/11 attacks – are on the hands of this incompetent murderer.

The crossroad will come if this rhetoric is accepted: accepting that voting for the Democrats is voting for the terrorists. If this psychotic delusion is shared by enough Americans, and the Republicans hold the Congress, and the Senate, all I have to say is this: you don’t necessarily get what you want, but you often get what you deserve.

On that note, I must go … my cell phone needs to be recharged and my Palm Pilot has to be synched with the computer … oh, to be in the past, unencumbered by technology!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome back to the 'real world' of electronica... see it's a real word now... been used twice!!
Missed you...
Your post reminds me of something your grandmother said to me once... I had just bought an answering machine in New York and she said.... "Vat you need that for?? People vill call... if you arn't home the vill call back"...
Great wisdom!!!