Where has all the thinking gone?
Maybe it wasn’t there to begin with.
The engine of thought takes some time to rev up, at least it does for me. This past week, I took a few days off, an operational pause, from my translation work of THE DAWN into L’AUBE. Inevitably, perhaps out of boredom, I ventured online to try to find some informed information regarding current events in America. It was a dismal state of affairs — not the current events as much as the opining and whining, fuming, chafing and raving, and prognosticating and predicting the Future.
Lucid, logical, coherent, accurate thought is just not there, in Digital-World.
The calamitous events of today are an outgrowth of the past because, as Anton Chekhov masterfully wrote, in 1894, in his short story, The Student :
“The past . . . is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one of another.”
The unbroken chain of events online is also an outgrowth of the past, specifically the past few decades of assaults on conservative thinkers exercising their freedom of expression. The current chaos in the streets and the keyboarded shouting-and-screaming on myriad websites form a huge harbinger of the glorious expressions of truth — to come — from savvy and sophisticated minds of many kinds. When there is this much frenetic energy from the Thought Police going into stomping out statements of actuality and veracity, then a flood of truth is bound to come a-gushing upon those parched fruited plains of America. Strait-jacketed Western Europe is quite another matter, a matter best left to the people over there.
Personally speaking, I have experienced two types of people where the truth is concerned: those who were afraid that I was going to discover it; and those who feared I would not figure it out, in time . . . The White-washers of the Truth were joined, in the great battle over the Truth, by the Worry Warts. Me, I was stuck in the middle, between them. The Truth, itself, became irrelevant, after a certain point in time. Controlling my mind was the major objective.
Websites of world news, national news, any news are peddlers of panic porn, posted by putterers and written by greenhorns. Websites of “opinion” are faux-journals, posted by amateurs who think they are professionals, at whatever it is that the site is marketing. The only message is this one:
LISTEN TO ME! ONLY I CAN TELL YOU WHAT TO THINK!
Boredom and ennui instantaneously overcome me. The Paywall can’t come fast enough to completely wall me off from the shrill toxic word-fumes! I not-too-secretly hope the paywall becomes the Berlin Wall, leaving the free thinkers far outside the boundary of the computer screen, and the jittery babblers in their free-fall of fear right there, online, where those very unfortunate persons believe a real world exists. There’s something about the truth that always strips the paint right off the walls of those digital dungeons of deceit.
Leaving the Berlin Paywall behind me, I then attempt to glean a factoid or two from a “news-pinion” website. Since I am intensely claustrophobic by nature, I flee such a visual-assault gallery after about 15 seconds. I initially take the bait, of wanting to find out the alarming tidbit of “news” that will somehow change my life. My eyes then race-plow over 4 or 5 paragraphs of information that is completely irrelevant to this faux story. And then — somewhere in Paragraph 7, I find the prize: the fact that Walmart will not be opening on Thanksgiving!
I flee Walmart almost as much as these so-subtle sites of digital-info-loading.
I know the strategy here is to keep the Reader on the Screen-page long enough for the bytes to be loaded and then for the bursting message-pop-ups to come flying at her, on the screen, keeping the attention there long enough to register advert-seconds. The problem with this sales tactic is that I feel attacked by the ad-tactic. I’m outta there and shall never return. Whoever is coming up with this grabby-gimmick (and it is ubiquitous online) has devised a real loser long-term and even short-term.
The online sea of info-sites smells of desperation. It’s a toxic brew of quickie-clicks that give my fingertips more of a workout than my brain.
The pollution of the public square needs an EPA investigation. At the very least, the www.Media create a brown-site. The media minions have gone full-throttle laptop and full-mouthed frantic. In this last gasp of “magazines” and “newspapers”, they exist exclusively as propaganda co-conspirators. The puffed-up freelancer taps away, in a tizzy, at the keyboard, his voluminous words, many of which he does not even know are incorrect. I read yesterday one reactionary blather regarding the future of America. The think-tank-consultant whippersnapper was elucidating, with no shortage of long-windedness, all that was going on in the 1990s, during his “formulative” years.
The word is “formative”, but this History Expert might have been formulating his own formula of history, and reality.
Maybe the thinking was never there to begin with, for these virtual columnists, and that is why the World of Opinion Websites is so filled with such vacuous verbiage. Those electronic ink-slingers and syllable-inputters produce exhaust fumes from computer tailpipes that are about to fall off of their computer go-carts, the futuristic cars that are going nowhere fast! The new-millenium scribblers are little mice, scurrying all over the virtual pantry of speech, looking for crumbs of thought to string together into string-cheese, a bland screed of thinly veiled hysteria.
As for me, I am re-starting my engine of editorial work today, and staying away from the electronic-brain hand-wringing that poses as an omniscient point of view. I want a tiger in my tank, not a mouse in my pantry.
Oh, how I yearn for the journals of public information and informed opinion from the days of yore. It was a magical time, when my mind encountered, with anticipation, the penned thoughts of other perceptive and inquiring minds published in periodicals. Those magazines of opinions oftentimes granted to me a very different take on life and on the events of life. My own thoughts were sharpened by the edges of the blades of their contemplations, ideas that honed my ideas in a somewhat different direction from their beaten path. Pondering opposing points of view refines the mind. Woe to anyone who listens only the echo of her own voice. Monotony is not harmony. It is a form of dischord that the lazy ear likes to hear.
The following are some quotes, penned by some great thinkers in the midst of human events, and one quote, made by an anonymous nobody. The truth, as spoken by that unknown person, resounds profoundly for me today, all because of the brilliant writers of the past whose penetrating minds still help me, today, and every day, to write with the luster of their brilliance.
Edward G. Robinson: To begin with I should say that I am a visual person. I experience with my eyes and never, or only rarely, with my ear — to my constant regret.
W.H. Auden: Private faces in public places / Are wiser and nicer / Than public faces in private places.
Sean Connery: I retired from acting when a bunch of effing foetuses in three-piece suits took over.
Thomas Jefferson: Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.
Duff Cooper: One can make a joke, but one can’t be one.
Benjamin Franklin: Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Don't be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.
Aristotle: What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.
Even though we are miles apart, we are each other’s destiny.