Fascinating, thought-provoking piece. Almost too much data to take in, in fact ;-)
Bang on the nail though. A flood of visual data every day batters our senses, such that processing it all productively is impossible. We take refuge in the superficial, and the state is complicit in this de-intellectualisation. Knowledge may increase, but understanding? As we enter perhaps one of the most challenging if not dangerous of times, the next generation of world business and political leaders, teachers and philosophers is growing up grafted to a games console. How many kids today barely read any kind of book except under compulsion, forget about Orwell.
Criticise the transitional nature of it all, the appearance of solidity and permanence, the element of farce... and you touch on people's deepest fears. They have shut themselves away into comfort zones, clinging desperately to myths such as those you list. Challenging those preconceptions is a duty, but results in a barrage of bitterness and irrationality.
That sense of reciprocal altruism is still there, after eons of evolution, but it seems to be losing out big time to more selfish motivations these days. Long-range empathy doesn't function too well, and there are too many demands on this faculty so it tends to shut off rapidly anyway.
Still, much enjoyed being "diverted" by your Calvino novels! Though now I'm feeling guilty for not having picked up Orwell in a long while ;-)
Posted: 5/27/2009 5:37:01 PM