Monday, March 2, 2009

March Clarity

I hate the idea that I'm inexorably becoming stupider, more distracted, more forgetful and less able to concentrate on one thing, or see one thing through to its completion. There are facets to my mind that seem predisposed to the unruly tangled web of the Internet and all its quick data fixes and doses of condensed, on-demand information. My obsessiveness, associative brain and general connection-making manias are perfect symptoms of the ideal internet consumer who will gladly get lost for hours in the user-generated labyrinth of meaning that is the Internet.

I think the over-production of meaning--and the over-inundation of "meaning"--is a dominant characteristic of my age and generation. It is a good and bad thing, I think. But maybe the more "they" insist that what we are consuming has meaning, the less meaning there actually is.

I mean do LOL Cats actually mean anything that is culturally-ethically relevant? When does all this codified amusement become so esoteric that only people who are on the Internet 24 hours a day can begin to understand it?

When amusement replaces insight, privileged in-jokes replace communal storytelling, how can there be culture or politics?

Like most people, a curious little flame will ignite and I'll leap as if from a burning building into the endlessly clarifying creek known as wikipedia. But who writes this stuff, I wonder? Someone like me who learns things from the Internet? Regardless, I'll sit down to write a story, and the process immediately gets bogged down by some irrational need to clarify something in the story by going on the Internet. Has writing in free wireless cafes completely slowed down the output of today's writers? I know it has for me.

Generation Meme, I like to think of us, but have yet to defend or support this thesis. And maybe even taking part in such an argumentative project would incriminate me as just another meme myself.

Anyway, I was thinking about this in connection to the slew of books appearing that are bemoaning the advanced state of inattention and amateurness passing for expertise and complex argument. More about this here.

I remember as a kid of eleven or twelve maybe and my family bought our first complete Encyclopedia Britannica, auburn leather-bound editions that I would idle over for hours.

But now I wonder if anyone buys that anymore?
Was has become of the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman?

February was muddled for me; March I attain for clarity. We'll see where I am in thirty odd days. I also hope for shorter, more succinct blog entries.


  1. "When amusement replaces insight, privileged in-jokes replace communal storytelling, how can there be culture or politics?"

    Read Catullus and the Poetics of Roman Manhood, David Wray.

    On invective and formal aesthetics used to enforce an insider/outsider privileged dichotomy.

    re. film noir and its wisecracking detectives.

    In light of Freudian Oedipus as ego detective.

    e.g. your own homo-social relationships.

    Insight is ego-driven amusement. Privileged in-jokes create the community. Culture and politics are the by-products.

  2. I see what you're getting at though I smell a red herring somewhere.