THE HIDDEN PERSUADER

“…Most unsettling of all is this: the content of television is not a vision but a manufactured data stream that can be sanitized to “protect” or impose cultural values. Thus we are confronted with an addictive and all-pervasive drug that delivers an experience whose message is whatever those who deal the drug wish it to be. Could anything provide a more fertile ground for fostering fascism and totalitarianism than this? In the United States, there are many more televisions than households, the average television set is on six hours a day, and the average person watches more than five hours a day— nearly one-third their waking time. Aware as we all are of these simple facts, we seem unable to react to their implications. Serious study of the effects of television on health and culture has only begun recently. Yet no drug in history has so quickly or completely isolated the entire culture of its users from contact with reality.

And no drug in history has so completely succeeded in remaking in its own image the values of the culture that it has infected. Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence. Control of content, uniformity of content, repeatability of content make it inevitably a tool of coersion, brainwashing, and manipulation. Television induces a trance state in the viewer that is the necessary precondition for brainwashing. As with all other drugs and technologies, television’s basic character cannot be changed; television is no more reformable than is the technology that produces automatic assault rifles.

Television came along at precisely the right time from the point of view of the dominator elite. The nearly one hundred and fifty years of synthetic drug epidemics that began in 1806 had led to disgust at the spectacle of human degradation and spiritual cannibalism that institutional marketing of drugs created. In the same way that slavery eventually, when no longer convenient, became odious in the eyes of the very institutions that had created it, the abuse of drugs eventually triggered a backlash against this particular form of piratical capitalism. Hard drugs were made illegal. Of course underground markets then flourished. But drugs as stated instruments of national policy had been discred ited. There would continue to be opium wars, instances of governments coercing other governments and peoples to produce or buy drugs— but in the future these wars would be dirty and secret, they would be “covert.”

As the intelligence agencies that arose in the wake of World War II moved to take up their “deep cover” positions as the masterminds of the international narcotics cartels, the popular mind was turning on to television. Flattening, editing, and simplifying, television did its job and created a postwar American culture of the Ken-and-Barbie variety. The children of Ken and Barbie briefly broke out of the television intoxication in the mid-sixties through the use of hallucinogens. “Oops,” responded the dominators, and they quickly made psychedelics illegal and halted all research. A double dose of TV therapy plus cocaine was ordered up for the errant hippies, and they were quickly cured and turned into consumption-oriented yuppies.

Only a recalcitrant few escaped this leveling of values.” Nearly everyone learned to love Big Brother. And these few who don’t are still clucked over by the dominator culture each time it compulsively scratches in the barnyard dust of its puzzlement over “what happened in the Sixties.”..”

Terence McKenna, Food of the Gods.
Read the whole book here.

THE ALEXANDRIA QUARTET

“…as for me I am neither happy nor unhappy; I lie suspended like a hair or a feather in the cloudy mixtures of memory. I spoke of the uselessness of art but added nothing truthful about its consolations.  The solace of such work as I do with brain and heart lies in this — that only THERE, in the silences of the painter or the writer can reality be reordered, reworked and made to show its significant side. Our common actions in reality are simply the sackcloth covering which hides the cloth-of-gold — the meaning of the pattern. For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded or defeated us in daily life; in this way, not to evade destiny, as the ordinary people try to do, but to fulfil it in its true potential — the imagination. Otherwise why should we hurt one another? No, the remission I am seeking, and will be granted perhaps, is not one I shall ever see in the bright friendly eyes of Melissa or the sombre brow-dark gaze of Justine. We have all of us taken different paths now; but in this, the first great fragmentation of my maturity, I feel the confines of my art and my living deepened immeasurably by the memory of them. In thought I achieve them anew;  as if only here — this wooden table over the sea under an olive tree, only here can I enrich them as they deserve. So that the taste of this writing should have taken something from its living subjects — their breath, skin, voices — weaving them into the supple tissues of human memory. I want them to live again to the point where pain becomes art…. Perhaps this is a useless attempt, I cannot say. But I must try…”

Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet (Justine).

STUPIDYNAMICS

Evolutionary perspective suggests the following propositions may be true or may serve as plausible working principles until we understand the brain better.

1. Stupidity is partly genetic and partly acquired.

2. The genetic portion of stupidity is programmed into all of us and consists of “typical mammalian behavior.” That is, a great deal of the human nervous system is on autopilot, like the closely related chimpanzee nervous system and the more distantly related cow nervous system. The programs of territoriality, pack hierarchy, etc., are evolutionarily stable strategies and hence work mechanically, without conscious thought. These evolutionary relative successes became genetic programs because they work well enough for the ordinary mammal in ordinary mammalian affairs.

They only become stupidities in human beings, where the higher cortical centers have been developed as a monitoring system to feed back more sophisticated survival techniques and correct these stereotyped programs with more flexible ones.

In short, to the extent that a human follows the genetic primate-pack patterns, without feedback from the cortex, that human is still acting like an ape, and hasn’t acquired facility in using the New Brain.

Continue reading “STUPIDYNAMICS”

RADIO’S NOT THE ONLY THING THAT FAILED US

“A melancholy view of our national mental level is obtained from a survey of the moronic quality of the majority of today’s radio programs.”
Lee De Forest*, Popular Mechanics (1952)
*Inventor of the Audion, responsible for the amplification of Radio Waves

(But then he did also say) –

“To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth—all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.”
Lewiston Morning Tribune (1957)