saturday morning post

where i’ve been …

… where i’m going …

Expand the post for excerpts from an article on “virtual addiction” [and its connection to our apathetic Western society] I found at adbusters.

If you turn on your television set and look away at a nearby wall, you will discover that the reflections produced by the light from the TV vary constantly in contrast and intensity. It occurs to me that every cell in our bodies has been programmed to respond to light – when a shadow passes over a field mouse, it becomes alert to a potential threat. Abrupt changes in the intensity of light are indications of danger that our neurological system has evolved to respond to. What effects can a lifetime of exposure to this assault produce? It’s obvious that the intensity of visual and audio contrast in our lives has increased through the years. I assume that our brains’ response is a protective deadening of our neural receptors.

I am convinced that the passivity of the American public is related to this phenomenon … In our world, reality has been replaced by forms of entertainment that require little mental activity and encourage inertia and apathy. How else can we explain the incredible indifference to their own lives and interests that characterizes the American people at this time? The misrepresentations of government, the outrageous dishonesty of business, the attacks on our civil rights, the collapse of our educational system and the failures of our social safety nets have produced almost no response or indignation from the American public … We no longer understand the relationship between cause and effect.

If illustration suggests illumination, then the shadow is central to its meaning. All of us who create imagery know that the relationship of dark to light is unavoidable. Although Freud, like all true artists, offered us only one way to view the world, I’ve always been attracted to his notion of the struggle between Eros and Thanatos, the pull towards life versus the pull towards death that seems to occupy the human psyche. Eros is the mother of sex, love, feeling and the desire to make things. Thanatos embraces darkness, obscurity, evil and entropy. Although the dialogue between these two forces predates history, the anxiety of this moment in time convinces us that the balance has gone awry.

The deepest role of art is creating an alternative reality, something the world needs desperately at this time … I used to feel that it was strange that artists are self-anointed. Now I realize it could not be any other way, because, above all, art is a view of life itself: it cannot be given by others nor taken away by dealers or marketing men. The real artists are always working for nothing because they don’t see their essential role in society as being simply the exchange of goods. The real artists turn up first in the anti-war demonstrations, not because they lack patriotism, but because they revere life.
~ Milton Glaser ~

link here

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~ by frizzyscissorhands on November 3, 2007.

5 Responses to “saturday morning post”

  1. I have read some studies that suggest that TV highly stimulates the limbic system of the human brain, and therefore exaggerates feelings, motivations etc. without intervention of critical or reasoned thought. Still, I would think that it isn’t simply the medium that allows us to be passive, but also the message.

    Still, in other media (even motion pictures) one has to more actively engage the content. Radio especially requires a healthy imagination.

  2. have you heard of marshall mcclelland? he was a great canadian who coined the phrase, or the notion, that the medium is the message. your comment makes me think of that.

    i would agree with the assertion that tv exaggerates feelings, etc. and, indeed, radio, forces a different sort of mind set. but, one must admit, how tv simply seems to happen to us, and in that way renders us passive to the moment. also, i think it makes us impatient, impetuous, and vengeful. also … way out of touch with real reality.

    i like the part in the post that mentions art as a sort of alternative reality. to me, that so true. i consider some cartoon art; i suppose that why i have always loooed animation, since a small child ~ alternative reality. its too goofy to be real … so its just an alternative … a refuge.

  3. If you see reality as a construct (as I do) than I would agree wholeheartedly, perhaps even go one better in that art is often an alternative reality, or at least represents one.

    Then agin, their’s Picasso’s famous quote that art is not truth; art is the lie by which we can see the truth.

    I’m quite familiar with Marshall McLuhan, BTW. I’ve mentioned him once or twice on The X-Spot and in my dissertation. He’s one of the most important media theorists ever, and he has much good stuff to say about a lot of things.

    I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of great minds come from north of the US boarder. For one, there’s this woman in BC whose blog I enjoy.

  4. theres a GREAT scene in the movie “annie hall” where woody allen is having an argument with some pompous ass with a “chair” at columbia on McLuhan’s work…finally to settle it once and for all woody pulls McLuhan into the frame and has him dress columbia professor down…saying something like “i heard what you were saying…you know nothing of my work!’ then woody turns and says to the camera/us and says

    “dont you wish life worked like this?”

    indeed i do! grrrerhahaha!

    McLuhan had some of my all time favorites on art and culture…..and i think the artist jenny holzer sort of flowwed suit with her “truisms”

    art is anything you can get away with ..is a classic..
    and we have Jeff Koons to prove it. grrrerhahaha!

  5. I love your posts, they make me think. Americans have an anti-intellectual tradition. It’s the old Yankee ingenuity thing. Intellectuals are actually looked down upon.

    Our schools concentrate on teaching kids to read and write, and how to do math. Americans disagree on too many things. This keeps anything that involves an opinion being touched on. Of course you have heard about those amazing people who believe that darwin should not be taught.

    They used to have a little contest on the radio in the morning that I listened to driving home from work. They would ask the listeners questions, for each question they got right they would get money, but if they missed a question, they lost all the money. The questions were really simple….and they were given choices, they had to pick A, B, or C. You wouldn’t believe how they would miss the simplest questions. What was D-day? Which time period did the civil war take place in. People missed these quesions! It was scary.

    Most people who watch TV a lot are very misinformed and they don’t even care. Our TV stations and a lot of the radio stations are owned by people who have an interest in who gets elected, so they control the information and no-one cares. It’s a trip.

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