words on words

Remember, you were warned.

A Clarification

I want to make something clear that I don’t think came across in my post last week. The notion of “doing something” is not an indication of my intention to become a journalist on the culture warfront. Frankly, I think most reporting on the culture wars is junk food that adds unnecessary pounds to your psyche as opposed to your waistline. What it did articulate was an intention to speak my mind in a way I’ve limited myself from doing since about 2018. My hope is that by adopting a willingness to speak with vulnerability in a forum that could very well eviscerate me for it–and have real world repercussions as a result–it inspires others to feel like they too can voice their thoughts. It’s been far too long that people feel like they need to speak in hushed tones in a country with freedom of expression enshrined in its founding document.

 

I’m sure you’ve had the conversation with your family and IRL friends about things “they won’t let you say anymore.” Everytime someone says that to me, my response is “who’s they?” How is it that the tyranny of a vocal minority has found a way to affect the real world behavior of people offline? It’s one of the darker consequences of what Neil Postman described with the adoption of new technologies always coming with a “program for social change.” My first reaction is to resist digital impositions upon the physical world, but as our real lives become increasingly commodified by our adoption of these technologies, will we really have a choice in the matter?

 

Here’s a more important question: who exactly is we in that statement? The only reason I know there are people that resist this imposition is because I’ve been made aware of their existence on the internet. No one I know in my daily life would dare to take a stance on much of anything for fear of the consequences of such an action. I cannot particularly blame them, many of them have careers and children that would be put in jeopardy if they were to be louder about things they only articulate to me in private.

 

Luckily for me, I am yet to have children that could be threatened by such an enterprise. If I play my cards right, I’ll achieve the escape velocity necessary to be able to articulate the truth without it having material effects on the people I care about. I recently learned that Agatha Christie is the best selling author fiction that’s ever lived. She sold over 2 billion books. That’s the number to beat, and there’s a lot of work to do before I get there.

 

Recommended Readings:

  • Andrew Tate is JS Mill’s Monster by Mary Harrington discusses how 19th century feminism ostensibly created the environmental factors that birthed the caricature we’ve come to know as Andrew Tate. Personally, I think the man’s performance is that of a comedy act, even if he may subscribe to more of the lifestyle than a performance would suggest. Joe Rogan compared him to a heel in pro-wrestling, and I think the comparison is apt.
  • The Great Fiction of AI by Josh Dzieza is a piece that horrified me upon my initial reading. It felt patently obvious to me that we are training the technology that will replace us, but after a late night session using some of the tools used in this article, I’ve had something of a sea change in perspective. Acceptance has been a process of overcoming extreme reluctance but its those who integrate with the technology that will have a chance of actually competing in the market. I’m working on a longer piece about the ethics of AI as it relates to authorship, which I’m planning as a video when I launch my video content. I’m targeting that to be launched by the end of Q1 2023.
  • The Happiness-Accuracy Tradeoff and the Limits of Rationality by Rob Henderson hit me at exactly the right time this week. I was sitting in the library, the day after I’d lost sleep wondering about the utility of writing fiction, when this article popped up in my inbox. I know I’ve fallen prey to over relying on rationality, and reading this demonstrated that applying that to deconstructing the joy writing fiction brings me is a recipe for emotional murder.

This Week’s Quote:

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion & hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious conversation becomes a form of baby talk, when (in short) people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility… to be unaware that technology comes equipped with it a program for social change, to maintain that technology is always a friend of culture, at this late hour, is stupidity plain simple… What afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.

Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death

Related