i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

One Vote for Pronoia

January 18, 2006

My favorite astrologer / writer person is Rob Brezny whose Free Will Astrology 'Scopes rock my world every Tuesday. I thought this entry in his e-newsletter thang was awesome:


The ubiquity of headlines like these suggests that nihilism is the pet philosophy of the storytellers known as "journalists." But they're not the only fabulists to thrive on dread and despair. A majority of the prophets down through the ages have been allergic to the possibility that the future might hold anything besides endlessly tragedy and disaster.

The sixteenth century's creepy horror-meister Nostradamus wasn't the
first, but he has been one of the most enduring. Ghoulish modern
soothsayers have refined and expanded the scare-the-crap-out-of-'em
tradition. For instance, in the last 40 years, hundreds of
self-proclaimed prophets have foreseen cataclysmic "earth changes" that will flush away America's West Coast and create beach-front property in Nebraska.

A multitude of their colleagues agree that most of humanity will be
wiped out any minute now, but they see the death blow coming via other means. Lethal solar flares, nuclear war, and fresh plagues are old standbys, though newcomers worm their way onto the list periodically, including my personal favorite: an evil artificial intelligence that achieves sentience on the Internet.

As entertaining as modern prognosticators' curses can be, however,
their track record is as abysmal as Nostradamus's. The fact that Nebraska is still without a seacoast should be enough evidence to send many of them into disgraced hiding.

Amazingly, the ineptitude of the frightful omen-slingers has not
diminished their appeal. Their newsletters and websites proliferate.
They have spawned the runaway popularity of syndicated radio shows rooted in edge-of-the-seat invocations of imminent global disasters. Tally up the New Age devotees of spooky woo-woo and the Christian fundamentalist worshipers of divine uh-oh and you've got a cast of millions.

Cultured, rational folks like you and I chuckle. How can so many people believe in so much nonsense? And yet as the tears of ridicule splash down from my cheeks onto today's *New York Times,* a heretical theory bubbles up into view. Maybe the boogie-man prophets captivate so many imaginations because there are far more influential minds constantly at work nurturing the conditions necessary for apocalyptic thinking to bloom.

In our culture, cynicism has come to be regarded as a sign of intellectual vigor. It's smart to expect and look for the worst in everything. Optimism is thought to be the province of sentimental fools with no talent for critical thinking. Entropy and isintegration are inherently more interesting subjects to explore than redemption and renewal, availing greater opportunities to show off one's acumen.

And soothsayers are really just bit players in the spreading of these
memes. The most potent disseminators are the storytellers known as
journalists. They comprise the engine of the myth-making machinery.
"The universe is not made of molecules," said the poet Muriel Rukyser. "It is made of stories." Subtly and relentlessly, the journalists weave our universe from narratives of turbulence, loss, decay, and corruption. The poet John Keats said that if something is not beautiful, it is probably not true, but our chief storytellers suggest the opposite: If something is not ugly, it is probably not true.

The Nostradamus wannabes are easy to dismiss. Their spectacularly
idiotic fantasies are laughable. But journalists churn out measured,
seemingly believable doses of doom and gloom. No single mini-
armageddon is too much to swallow, but the sum total of their agitated drone adds up in the long run to a far more powerful prophetic vision than the silly New Age and fundamentalist seers: MEDIAPOCALYPSE.

I love Brezny's writing style: it's packed full of wonderfulness. Also, this touches upon an issue I've been musing about lately: responsible media. I touched upon this a little bit in a presentation I gave for my senior seminar course last week: the idea is that actions speak louder than words. That's tough for me as a writer to say, but I believe it. I also believe that my words can inspire others to action.

So, it is my responsibility as a creator of media to ensure that what I put out there can have positive repurcussions on the world around me. That hasn't always been the case with my writing, my "career" as an online writer traces the whole way back to when I was seventeen, young and very dumb. Even the things that I published as I grew older were not always in tune with the person I am now. That's natural as human beings evolve and grow throughout their lives.

I imagine that at some point in the future those things I wrote when I was younger will come back to haunt me, perhaps causing a spot of embarrassment at a job interview or an awkward moment with a date who decided to search for me online, but I think that the answer "I didn't know any better" will probably suffice in most cases.

I ran into a woman who recognized me from my webpage in a thrift shop yesterday and it got me thinking: what for me is still a random and weird experience (i.e. meeting people in "real life" who recognize me from my online world) is getting to be a pretty much commonplace experience with younger generations who are growing up with things like Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Friendster and other methods of online networking and communities. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

I imagine that, like everything in this life, this has both positive and negative aspects. On one hand, human connection is probably the most valuable part of human life and these connections might be the only thing that last after we cease to exist. So forming online communities could be an important part of making this happen. On the other hand, if these communities never leave the realm of the internet world, how "real" are these connections?

And, come on, you could probably have hours of excellent conversations discussing this question: "what is real?" Is the table in front of me more real than the table I can visualize in my mind? I still don't know the answer to that one (thanks, Dr. J, for that quandry!) I do know this: the concept of "doing the laundry" dims in comparison with the smell of laundry wafting down a chilly street or the feel of hot warmth against my chest as I fold clothes fresh from the dryer. So, too, do the connections I form with people online fade when compared with the warmth and love I feel when I am in the physical presence of the people who matter in my life.

So how does this relate to the idea of responsible media? I guess, for me, it's about bridging the gap between self and selfless, about finding some sort of balance between fulfilling my personal dreams and having a positive impact on the world around me. As technology and the world around me changes, I must constantly redefine and search for a better definition of what is "real" and what matters. Then I must focus my energies upon creating positive, responsible media that fits within my own worldview, a worldview, that I hope, will encompass the views of at least a couple other people out there. And, then, I suppose, I hope for the best.

If you've read this far, you should definitely check out this site:
Evolver Project.

Moira at 11:00 AM :: Comments (1) :: ::

Miss M,

Just think, right now we would be working at the FoodBank, had it been last week. I had so much fun with you in senior sem. I am glad that we chose to do it then and survived. It actually was not as brutal as I expected. It was not brutal, at all. I wonder when our portfolios will be done?

Geoff wants to join the Recycling Club, and I know you are the ultimate earth mother (unlike my bad self) and can help with his interest. You are the only person I know who does it....would you please help me to help him to go in the right direction?

Thank you, my love.


Miss K

Posted by: KatieAikins at January 19, 2006 11:02 AM
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