“But archaeological description is precisely such an abandonment of the history of ideas, systematic rejections of its postulates and procedures, an attempt to practice a quite different history of what men have said. That some people do not recognize in this enterprise the history of their childhood, that they mourn for its passing, and continue to evoke, in an age that is no longer made for it, that great shade of former times, certainty proves their fidelity. But such conservative zeal confirms me in my purpose and gives me the confidence to do what I set out to do.” Michel Foucault, The Archeology of Knowledge
“Whatever job they’re doing, they appear to do it diligently. ‘In class, sometimes I say, ‘Is your identity a kind of knowledge?’ ‘ James O’Leary, an assistant professor of musicology at the Oberlin Conservatory, told me. ‘The answer, for forever, has been no.’ But his current students often vigorously disagree. In the post-Foucaultian tradition, it’s thought to be impossible to isolate accepted ‘knowledge’ from power structures, and sometimes that principle is turned backward, to link personal discomfort with larger abuses of power. ‘Students believe that their gender, their ethnicity, their race, whatever, gives them a sort of privileged knowledge—a community-based knowledge—that other groups don’t have,’ O’Leary went on. The trouble comes when their perspectives clash.'”Nathan Heller from The Big Uneasy
“Thus one generation is always the scorn and wonder of the other, and the notions of the old and young are like liquors of different gravity and texture which never can unite. The spirits of youth, sublimed by health and volatized by passion, soon leave behind them the phlegmatic sediment of weariness and deliberation, and burst out in temerity and enterprise. The tenderness, therefore, which nature infuses, and which long habits of beneficence confirm, is necessary to reconcile such opposition: and an old man must be a father to bear with patience those follies and absurdities which he will perpetually imagine himself to find in the schemes and expectations, the pleasures and sorrows of those who have not yet been hardened by time and chilled by frustration.” Dr. Johnson
There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’ Eldrige Cleaver
And it’s the people who make you and if you’re not doin’ your proper work it’s the people who will break you – F. A. Sinatra
This was the week that people came forward to ask questions, burning questions, questions that were very much front and center in their minds.
The first one came early in the week. A bewildered gent asked, “How do you stay married?”
I looked him the eye and said, “Kinda like Coors Beer, you have to start with pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water!
Late in the week, at roughly the same time, there was a tug on my sleeve and a young gent breathlessly asked,”Would you say Slate over-thinked The Fartcopter?”
Sure, yeah, OK, around the edges … more than a little – but let’s give Slate some credit. Rarely has content better fit a medium than Facebook to giving Fartcopter the Cahier du Cinema treatment.
Moving along –
This post is here merely to note the 16th anniversary of this page. Rather than try to pull what follows into some sort of giant slumgullion that you can enjoy at the pace of a prison meal, I have instead decided to break this out into various sections.
QUESTIONS ANSWERED WHILE-U-SLEEP! CALL FOR A QUOTE!
While 7:45am is a bit early to talk about the intricacies of a successful marriage, questions that difficult do not go without further thought. Later in the day I realized that the question may not have been specifically aimed at me, but was meant to be asked of The Universe in general. In either case, I have no better answer than the one I gave … on short notice.
The worst case scenario came when I was asked – at 6:15am – whether or not newspapers had a future. My answer was, of course, “No,not as we know them now.” which made an 86 year-old man cry.
Unlike marriage I at least can back that one up.
Here’s a couple of diagrams:
The papers suffer from a problem. They convey information in a familiar way that only appeals to the most rapidly aging among us. (Think of it as people being grumpy over Coke coming in a can rather than a bottle.)The simple fact is there are these people living among us called Millennials. (Some of them are living among us because we gave birth to them. e.g. Alaska Wolf Joe) As we age out they take over and – as I have said countless times before – they have no interest in consuming information the same way their elders did.
Complicating matters (Diagram 2)is something no one is paying any attention to at the moment. Large corporations, movie studios, book publishers, and others have discovered that they no longer need the convention media to get word out. Case in point – a large very, very well-know Seattle-based coffee company hired a photographer who has won several Pulitzers, a 20-year vet of producing long pieces for the local NBC-affil, and a very well known radio reporter to create content that will bypass the usual suspects and go directly to you.
The academics call this “disintermediation.”
Translated from the Latin – “We don’t need you any more!”
So go ahead. Pick up the paper off the porch. Give it a big hug and a kiss. Sooner or later you’re going to be too old to stoop over and pick it up unless it gets starved for content first.
2016 IT’S THE NEW 1968!
History sure is interesting until you have to live through it, isn’t it?
Most of what appears on this page is a rolling obit for the old media with an added thumbnail sketch here and there about the chaos that’s ensued in media since the economic collapse of 2009. Lately, or so it seems, it’s also a rolling obit for the Boomer’s weltanschauung as well as the generation’s overarching and unwarranted belief in its on self worth. Case in point – this week New Yorker article on Oberlin College.
Very near the end of the article there’s this –
But the Firebrands, beginning in the contexts of their campuses, are resetting that frame, much as the postwar generation did half a century ago. The historic bracket that opened in the sixties is starting to close; the boomers’ memoirs of becoming no longer lead up to the present. When that sort of thing happens—when experiential contradictions become acute—a window opens for people whom the legal theorist Cass R. Sunstein calls “norm entrepreneurs”: those promulgating new standards that others can adopt and defend, redefining bad behavior (say, from homosexuality to homophobia), rewriting social models, and shifting the default settings of political culture. Before long, another mural, displaying these new liberal virtues, will probably adorn the blank wall in the Cat in the Cream. Until then, the cracks in the American left are likely to grow—with more campaign arguments about who is the “true” progressive, more shouting past one another, and more feelings that, for at least one generation, everything is lost.
The underpinnings, the building blocks of a new conversation, if you will, are moving into place. Foucault has replaced Marx. (i.e. power structures are now perceived vertical rather than the 60s vie of a horizontal/hierarchical structure) The hand wringing and tut-tutting exemplified by the teacher in the article who says the kids are doing the Right’s work only prove Foucault’s point that some of us are going forward with ideas and paradigms that have shot clean past their expiration dates. At some point this must seem as foreign the the Boomers – who once claimed the whole world was watching – as it was to the college faculties of the 1960s.
Long, long ago a very wise man told me that the core of the 60s could best be explained by Rousseau. While the very public debate was about The Establishment, the real discussion was about the nature of the institutions that made up The Establishment. His example was what we now call Second Wave Feminism. As those women rethought what the institution of womanhood was all about they were in fact also creating a parallel discussion of what the institution of manhood was all about.
In its own way that examination was the intersectionality of its time.
Look, the discussion for the next 30-35 years is forming and most of us will either not be around to see how it comes out or be marginalized by age and as such be denied participation.
Long story short – some of us have no lived long enough to be on the wrong side of Eldrige Cleaver’s famous dictum and Pogo’s best know aphorism now applies to everybody over 50.
Whether we like it or not.
Moving along –
WHERE’S THE FREE PEPSI AND BALLOONS FOR THE KIDS, YOU SUNUVABITCH?
Yes, this weekend is the 16th anniversary of this page. It would be nice to say something profound, but as you’re all well aware I have been profundity-challenged since birth. That of course lead to the many iterations of this page, irrational and erratic topic selection, and an endless repetition of content that could only be attributed a troubled soul.
Given all that – last week I think I hit on something that can correct the problem. Reading along about the ongoing legal battles concerning who will control 92 year-old Sumner Redstone’s fortune there was a line that struck me. At one point Redstone appeared in chambers to give a deposition. It got off to a a very rough start – no one could understand a word Redstone was saying. Finally the judge finally ordered a short recess so some one could adjust Sumner’s dentures so the everyone could understand what he was saying. Recess ensued, helpers got busy with Mr. Redstone’s uppers and lowers, and then all was well.
So it came to me – that’s the problem.
What I need is the digital equivalent of Fixodent and forget it.
Once that happens it’ll all make sense.
Hell, I might even take the blame for Trump.
Why didn’t I think of this sooner?
But in the meantime …