On its main page earlier today, MSNBC showed a picture of something called ‘bacon beer’ along with a storyline about various gourmet beers. Right next to that story is equally pithy coverage of an unfolding event that really should have higher billing than bacon and beer combined.
What is this thing more sacred than bacon or beer you ask? It is participatory democracy, though the media would really like to refocus your attention on the beer, and oh-by-the-way, did you see the recently released footage of the British royal family, circa 1984, or the story about the little girl who swam with sharks?
I’m watching the media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement with growing interest, especially over the last few days. A large part of the protest movement is directed towards shining a light on corporate influence in the media— what information gets dispersed, and how well or not well it is dispersed— so the reaction of the mass media to these charges is telling.
Judging by the second-page type coverage of #Occupy Wall Street, it would appear news sources are not keen on acknowledging the validity of protester’s concerns, especially as it effects their own pocketbooks by way of advertising dollars.
Yes, news organizations are businesses. That’s part of the problem– they aren’t here for building a well-informed citizenry. They’re here for building profits. This profit-only motive is a flaw in the system and one that must be addressed. News sources must be held accountable not as businesses, but as sources of information, and this public accountability must take place sooner rather than later. A society is only as free and as vibrant as its sources of information.
In this vein, we acknowledge media is the currency of our millenial generation. We trade up or down and move our lives not according to food for the body, but according to food for the mind. Yet our quest for mind-food has become self-serving rather than for greater good.
While we like to think of the quest for knowledge and information as a higher calling, if not properly balanced, our mental and spiritual hungers become an obsession, a void that cannot be filled. And while our physical bodies are fueled on food that has been hyper-processed and modified to the point of having little of its original nutrition, so to are our minds filled with information that has been processed to the point of no longer having much content. We want to consume our information like our food– sweet, fried, fast.
We think we’ve moved up the chain with burgers and information at our finger-tips, yet we’ve fallen in terms of being in touch with what goes on around us. Whether it’s the genetically altered crops making up the hamburger bun or conflict minerals from the Congo in our cell batteries, we are less— not more— connected. We have so much information at our fingertips, yet know or understand comparatively little about the larger effects of our consumption patterns, or the sources of our material and informational goods.
In fact, more information has become less information, or rather, the integrity of that information has been compromised in such a way to lead us to believe we are doing ok. Drink more bacon beer and let the politicians handle that icky stuff about the Congo and conflict minerals in your technology.
Media sources would like you to read about sharks attacks and bacon beer, not get silly ideas about the increasing gap between lower and upper class, or hear about like-minded citizens marching against the destruction of the middle class.
They would like you to keep consuming your bacon beer while earning a smaller percent of company profits, and paying taxes to shoulder their risky business endeavors that turn the economy topsy-turvy, all while bringing them larger profits.
They would also like to keep this whole little protest thing low-key, because if people start getting ideas that they’re not alone with their frustrations, good heavens, can you imagine the chaos? Best to stick to your bacon beer and let the politicians and business people run things, right?
That’s not what our founders had in mind, nor any government founded on democratic principles. Quite clearly, it was We the People, not We the Corporations. The framers intended for an informed and active citizenry, and one of the ways this was to come about was via a press that served the people, not private interests.
At the moment, I cannot think of an institution more reflective of our general lack of concern for each other, our communities, and the environment as what is embodied on Wall Street. It is true large banks are far from the only factor, and the problems are much more complex than that. Still, this culture of greed, a hyper-capitalistic society that celebrates ruthlessness and profit at the expense of almost all while so few profit– is clearly not sustainable long-term.
Because these resources, human and natural, expire. And when resources start running short, rather than coming together, we live in a time where it has become acceptable, encouraged even, to turn on one another. This financial and social cannabalism, glorified by Wall Street and large corporations, made more dubious by the witholding of information via media control, is what makes the situation unteneable. How can the average citizen make his or her way, let alone get ahead, in such an environment of hostility and blindness?
So, to Wall Street and the media outlets who make their profits by processing their content according to advertising dollars, we want to read news, not propaganda. We want to see a rising middle class, that they might take and reinvest into their communities, rather than giving corporate share holders more cars and vacations.
We don’t want to take more than our share or do less than our part, but maybe we could let Wall Street take some responsibility. If they want to keep their bacon, they need to mop up their share of the grease.
Finding/Anna Swir Moment, 8:07 CST
What are these chokes of breath,
they which don’t break in normal tongues
only cursive slyness, inked, sliding
across my clavicle upwards and down,
down to the basics of solitude
where a quiver was found, a
flutter that taps out its voice:
I’m still here,
or, I’m here but not there–
my warmth knows no place
except where questions are found.
I’ve been silent for too long. Not at all silent with my voice, but silent with my heart. And that, dear readers, is the worst kind of silence. As I’m writing, it begins to speak again. Or at least it’s trying. It lets out a few pitiful wheezes and coughs, sputters, then tries again. I’m pretty sure if my heart could be portrayed as a human, it would be asthmatic, a stutterer, and be said to have a severe case of social anxiety.
So what does this nuerotic asthmatic heart have to say for itself? It goes something like this: whiz-spurs-sputz-purrs-zizz-zip-pop-pop-pop-zizz-sputz-whiz. There’s a medical term for this, and I think it goes by the name ‘heart palpitations’ but whizz-pop sounds less ominous, even fun. One could almost set a tune by it.
See, it’s never as bad as it sounds. For one, I have a talent for stating things in the most dramatic fashion possible, and while this lends itself well to creative writing, it does not necessarily lend itself to a relaxed daily life. There’s striving, and then there’s strife. I tend to engage in way too much of the later and not enough of the former.
Trying. Maybe that’s what this is about. Reviving myself, my writing. Trying to do better, be better, feel better. I’m wanting to be present in my thoughts and words, not just booming them from the balcony like some smug dues-ex-machina jerk-face.
* * * * * *
Both my heart and my writing have taken a back-seat for too long. I may have forgotten how to use either of them. I have a little theory: if I use my heart well enough, strengthen it bit by bit, then I’ll remember how to write. It will be like doing calisthenics for gym class. I’m like the scrawny kid who can’t do a proper pull-up, dangling from the bar with monkey arms, straining to pull myself all the way up.
So, dear reader, please be patient with me while I rebuild my strength. It’s funny because the heart is, of course, actually a muscle. Funny, powerful in a way, that we can reduce something so profound and abstract into something as concrete as human tissue.
Perhaps analyzing and distilling something to the point of complete science is just one of many mechanisms we’ve created for protecting it. While this process is the foundation of most modern thought and science, it’s also unbelievably handy as a means to protect ourselves from almost anything that involves too many ‘variables’. It’s comforting to have the ability, the control to categorize and sort things into nice little boxes.
Then one day you stumble onto something that doesn’t fit into a box. Any kind of box. Anywhere. You sigh. Label it as a congenital defect and put it back on the shelf. But it sits there in the closet and howls. Howls and howls until you take it down off the shelf, look at it, and dare to hold it next to you. The howling turns to anger then crying, but somehow, what with its defect and all, it turns to laughter, and not just any laughter. Ridiculously vibrant, full-on, eyes-sparkling kind of laughter.
And this a heart, you say? I don’t know, but I imagine even an asthmatic could run a marathon with a little bit of training. With that, a toast to a decent warm-up lap, with many more to run.
I want to live among the ruins,
among blocks I’ve stumbled on:
the remnants of a childhood
—its own ancient civilization—
ended before the scribes
could hammer it out.
I want to live among the ruins,
like an historian or archeologist:
brushing carefully each sanded step
—tools and footprints left behind—
calculating how & when,
the stairways and tunnels
figured passing of days and years.
I want to live among the ruins,
breathing amid dust and stones:
reviling and revering old temples
—the artful sacrifice—
& deities found mortal.
I want to live among the ruins,
though I no longer dwell within them.
Echoing discovery for those who come next:
I stake a claim for my own humanity.
Fact: I’m absurd. I think in ways that are confusing at best. Yet, writing often relies on some unusual types of thinking, on the writer making connections that other people do not necessarily make. Like that connection over there– ohwow! See, you missed it. (Snap.)
Sometimes these connect-the-dots are really far-flung, like this one I’m chasing right now… which leads to my questions on different ways of thinking and seeing– why do we need writers, painters, musicians and their kind? Is art really necessary for a society to move itself forward? Why do we need so many different kinds of art?
Why? Because as humans, we need these stories for survival and furthering our lives. Because art drives creativity, and creativity is what ultimately creates the thing known as ‘future’. Because each unique voice, each medium, tells different stories and connects different dots in different sequences. And whether we admit it or not, we’re hardwired for making these connections not just with ideas, but with each other.
I’ve come to believe our beauty as a species lies in these places of inter-connectedness, and perhaps even more so in the moments when those connections are drawn across a night sky and into joint imaginations. And in each of those imaginations lies the potential for reaching back out to the world with a new sound, story, image, idea.
Yet each of these imaginations is like yet another constellation unto itself, with different ways seeing, telling, listening. Different ways of breaking apart and putting back together. And with creativity, we are able see that some things aren’t broken, they just need to find a different way of being put together. Because pieces of a broken vase are not garbage, they’re pieces of art glass dying to be put into a mobile and hung in a window.
The path of creativity in arts and sciences, like the path of human nature, is full of jagged lines and broken pieces. But when you hang the pieces together into a mobile, the light shines through making colors and shapes you wouldn’t otherwise have. What stunning light. You stand back and admire what would have otherwise been a non-entity– beauty in its place.
Yes, this borders on all sorts of creative-personality cliches, but that’s one of my favorite places to dwell. And somehow I’ll hope to blur and blend some lines and shapes other people have drawn. So that others too might come along with their paints and scrapers, cylinders and words. That they might put forth their own connections. That they might reach even farther into this messy and ever-expanding web of human endeavors.
Because really, whatever else are we here for?
After agonizing over the renaming of my yet-to-be-used blog, I finally came to something which had etymological significance that will hopefully, in the course of time, come to have greater significance.
In the meantime, I should note that I’ve encountered my first rabbit hole in the blogosphere. It goes by the name of “possibly related posts”. When, much like Alice, I headed down the Rabbit Hole, I found myself in a strange world where truly nothing was as it seems. Everything that I had considered myself was now being reflected back in a strange and not altogether pleasant fashion.
However, what I learned from this cyber-rabbit-hole experience is that no matter how much I might try, I cannot pull myself away from certain elements of myself that I don’t wish to see.
Below is an experiment/reposting of the comment I made on my first post.
* * * * *
The ‘possibly related posts (automatically generated)’ feature believes my post might be similar to “holly jolly gift card” and “stiches gone”.
Was Ophelia self-harming? Yes, she committed suicide.
Might ‘holly jolly gift card’ be tagged as ’socially acceptable greetings’? Yes, but the whole of my very short post has been taken entirely out of context. I realize this will be the first of many ‘learnings’ on my blogging journey.
Of note: this has created a complex schadenfreude-type feeling in my writer’s brain. I’m now aware that by re-posting this as a blog and still allowing the ‘related posts’ feature, I might stumble upon some things of interest.
Here’s to self-aggrandizement, Nietzsche, etymology, satire, and computer science engineers.
Next on my agenda: head directly to my dashboard to turn off the ‘possibly related posts’ feature. Or not?