Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bageant: We've Let Corporations and Media Rob Our Souls -- It's Time to Do Something Meaningful


We are not unique


"Strangely enough, even as a population mass operating under unified corporate management machinery, most Americans believe they are unique individuals, significantly different from every other person around them.


More than any other people I have met, Americans fear loss of uniqueness. Yet you and I are not unique in the least. Despite the American yada-yada about individualism, you are not special. Nor am I. Just because we come from the manufacturer equipped with individual consciousness, does not make us the center of any unique world, private or public, material, intellectual or spiritual.


The fact is, you will seldom, if ever, make any significant material or lifestyle choices of your own in your entire life.


  • If you don't marry him, someone else will.
  • If you don't buy that house, someone else will.
  • If you don't become a psychologist, lawyer or a clergyman or a telemarketer, someone else will.


We are all replaceable parts in the machinery of a capitalist economy. "Oh but we have unique feelings and emotions that are important," we say. Psychologists specialize in this notion.


Yet I venture to say that none of us will ever feel an emotion that someone long dead had not felt, or some as-yet-unborn person will not feel. We are swimmers in an ancient rushing river of humanity. You, me, the people in my Central American village, the child in Bangladesh, and the millionaire frat boys who run our financial and governmental institutions with such adolescent carelessness. All of our lives will eventually be absorbed without leaving a trace.


Still though, for Western peoples in particular, there is the restless inner cultural need to differentiate our lives from the other swimmers. Most of us, especially as educated people in the Western world, will never beat that one.


Fortunately, though, we can meaningfully differentiate our lives (at least in the Western sense) in the way we choose to employ our consciousness. Which is to say, to own our consciousness.


If we exercise enough personal courage, we can possess the freedom to discover real meaning and value in our all-too-brief lives. We either wake up to life, or we do not. We are either in charge of our own awareness, or we let someone else manage it by default. That we have a choice is damned good news."


Meat space versus the parallel universe


"So how is it that we Americans came to live in such a parallel universe? How is it that we prefer such things as Facebook (don't get me wrong, I'm on Facebook, too), and riding around the suburbs with an iPod plugged into our brain looking for fried chicken in a Styrofoam box?


Why prefer these expensive, earth-destroying things over love and laughter with real people and making real human music together with other human beings -- lifting our voices together, dancing and enjoying the world that was given to us? Absolutely for free.


And the answer is this: We suffer under a mass national hallucination.


Americans, regardless of income or social position, now live in a culture entirely perceived inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation and world that does not exist. Our national reality is staged and held together by media, chiefly movie and television images. We live in a "theater state."


In our theater state, we know the world through media productions, which are edited and shaped to instruct us on how to look and behave and view the outside world."


http://www.alternet.org/mediaculture/135162/bageant%3A_we%27ve_let_corporations_and_media_rob_our_souls_--_it%27s_time_to_do_something_meaningful/?page=entire

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