Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Evolution's End

¡Hola! Everybody...
Last Sunday morning I heard applause right outside my window. When I looked, I realized I had forgotten all about the NYC marathon and that its path passed right by my block. It was amazing how many New Yorkers were out there exhorting the runners: “You can do!” “You’re looking great!” Others staffed Gatorade/ water tables, and others held up signs inscribed with positive affirmations. Only in New York...

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-=[ Evolution’s End ]=-

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.

-- Hannah Arendt (1906–1975)

I think people are under a false impression that I don’t watch TV. Actually, I watch tons of TV. My TV is on if I’m home. I watch a lot of garbage too: shit like Bones reruns!

I also think people are under a false sense of security, thinking that if they don’t watch TV that they’re immune to its influence. Nothing could be further from the truth: there’s a “cultural DNA” (memes) and unless you’ve been totally deprived you’re not immune from the larger external forces that shape our culture. From a biological perspective, our neurological systems are like feedback loops and we are shaped by our relationships in ways we have yet to fully explore. I actually think keeping yourself ignorant of what goes on the boob tube is probably not a good strategy.

I mean, we all like to think we’re different, or smarter, or whatever, but we’re not, we’re just like the next person in many respects, just as prone to social pressure as the average Jane. Doubt me? Well, I’m not in the mood to get all that deeply into it, but I’m sure you throw away more shit than you’re conscious of -- whether you want to or not. As a society, we let out a collective fart that’s choking the rest of the world. You consume to a disproportionate level compared to other people in the world. For example, we rationalize purchasing gas-guzzlers because “we have to drive the kids around,” or some such nonsense.

We drive to work when we can take public transportation. We are the target of an onslaught of messages (approximately 80,000 a day) that we’re barely aware of them. And all this shit seeps in. It’s not a matter whether we buy into it or not, but rather, the degree to which we have bought into these messages.

Please don’t intellectualize/ rationalize this fact thereby forcing me to cram it down your throat, ok?

I don’t think the Television Machine is necessarily an evil thing in and of itself. It’s when we become passive observers that it becomes an issue and that’s the aim of marketing -- to make us passive consumers. It’s good for the economy.

When my son was young, I would use TV to mine learning opportunities. Buffy the Vampire Slayer became an opportunity to discuss a whole slew of interesting and relevant adolescent issues. Everything from peer pressure to the “horrors” of what it is to be a teenager in a postmodern world gone slightly mad. LOL

Watching TV, for my son became an opportunity to learn cultural studies and critical theory, except he didn’t know it. The commercials for drugs were the best. You know those commercials where there’s some woman in a filmy sun dress traipsing through a field of flowers (Claritin, maybe)? Then, towards the end of the commercial, there’s like a ten-second rapid-fire sotto voce disclaimer listing all these awful side effects? Like, anal leakage -- what the fuck is anal leakage?!!

I think what I was teaching my son (and myself) was necessary to be an active observer. I was teaching him how to form the correct questions, to be a critical thinker. In this sense, TV was a tool for learning and we were fully aware of what was going on at some larger cultural level and in that way were able to inoculate ourselves (to a degree!) from the mindless push to consume.

I dunno, maybe it’s the Tantric influence of which everything -- even what we consider negative -- can be utilized in the service of waking up. Shit, even fertilizer has its use, right? And isn’t waking up (not to be confused with analyzing, which is merely mental masturbation) -- isn’t waking up what it’s all about. Isn’t waking up evolution’s end?




  1. Love this one!

    We can't evade or avoid the influences, but we can be aware of them.

    I stayed with a friend last year who generates almost no garbage. He works hard at it, and it takes constant attention, as well as the willingness to change certain things, to give up some ideas of what is necessary and do things that aren't always convenient, like trying to use the same cloth rag in the kitchen for multiple tasks without contaminating it or anything else instead of using paper towels. He composts, which means that all produce that comes into the house must be organic, regardless of how poor the selection or how grotty what's there happens to be. And that means paying attention to where he shops so he can both have decent produce and not have to throw any part of it out, even though he lives in an area where good organic produce is hard to find. But then, he also has to balance that with not driving all over town to visit 87 different stores. So, yeah, it means constant attention and awareness...and so does living in the world, TV or no.

  2. Yeah! TV is like composting! LOL I like that idea. I think the important part is striving to remain presrent and active, rather than passively absorbing the onslaught.

  3. Hey, you're the one who brought up the amount of trash we generate. Not my fault that your blog made me think about how dealing with physical and mental trash both take the same kind of awareness. :-P

    I posted an entry on here, btw, solely in response to your nudging. It's a repost, though, so you may have seen it before.


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