The ascent of the latest U.S. president has proved Neil Postman’s argument in Amusing Ourselves to Death was right. In a very readable article in The Guardian, Andrew Postman (Neil Postman’s son), gives his take on the similarities of our current reality to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World rather than George Orwell’s 1984. Basically, it’s not about Big Brother watching you, but people chasing entertainment, no matter how infuriatingly ridiculous or ‘fake’ it might be.
As Postman writes:
Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture..
Where will we go from here? Postman argues:
Who can be appalled when the coin of the realm in public discourse is not experience, thoughtfulness or diplomacy but the ability to amuse – no matter how maddening or revolting the amusement?
My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – By Andrew Postman
Oh Canada…some food for thought based on an article in The Guardian by Charles Foran:
“The greater Toronto area is now the most diverse city on the planet, with half its residents born outside the country; Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal aren’t far behind. Annual immigration accounts for roughly 1% of the country’s current population of 36 million.”
“The American and European citizen … may find all this chatter about inclusion and welcome ethereal, if not from another planet given the events of 2016, in which the US elected an authoritarian whose main policy plank was building a wall, Britain voted to leave the EU in large part to control immigration, and right wing political parties gleefully hostile to diversity may soon form national governments, including in France.”
“None of this raw populism is going away in 2017, especially as it gets further irritated by the admittedly formidable global challenge of how to deal with unprecedented numbers of people crossing national borders, with or without visas. But denial, standing your nativist ground, doing little or nothing to evolve your society in response to both a crisis and, less obviously, an opportunity: these are reactions, not actions, and certain to make matters worse.”
The Canada experiment: is this the world’s first ‘postnational’ country?
Murat Cem Menguc’s essay on Hyperallergic is worth reading as it brings attention to More’s ‘Utopia.’
“First published in the early winter of 1516, Utopia eventually became one of the most widely read and thought-about texts of the Western world. ”
Why We Still Need Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ in 2016
“Stoicism is a school of philosophy which was founded in Athens in the early 3rd century and then progressed to Rome, where it became a pragmatic way of addressing life’s problems. The central message is, we don’t control what happens to us; we control how we respond.”
Want to know more about the stoics? Marcus Aurelius’s rather humbling Meditations is a key to understanding Roman Stoic philosophy. He said:
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…”
How would the Stoics cope today? By Ryan Holiday
A Kite is a Victim
By Leonard Cohen
From: The Spice-Box of Earth
A kite is a victim you are sure of.
You love it because it pulls
gentle enough to call you master,
strong enough to call you fool;
because it lives
like a desperate trained falcon
in the high sweet air,
and you can always haul it down
to tame it in your drawer.
A kite is a fish you have already caught
in a pool where no fish come,
so you play him carefully and long,
and hope he won’t give up,
or the wind die down.
A kite is the last poem you’ve written,
so you give it to the wind,
but you don’t let it go
until someone finds you
something else to do.
A kite is a contract of glory
that must be made with the sun,
so make friends with the field
the river and the wind,
then you pray the whole cold night before,
under the travelling cordless moon,
to make you worthy and lyric and pure.
Legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen passed away on November 10, 2016.
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic ’til I’m gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
The Crack In Everything Widens: A Dirge For Leonard Cohen By Sezin Koehler
Photo from: www.leonardcohen.com
At eighty-two, the troubadour has another album coming. Like him, it is obsessed with mortality, God-infused, and funny.
Leonard Cohen’s official audio for You Want It Darker.
Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker By David Remnick in the New Yorker