“‘Personal density,’ Kurt Mondaugen in his Peenemünde office not too many steps away from here, enunciating the Law which will one day bear his name, ‘is directly proportional to temporal bandwidth. Temporal bandwidth is the width of your present, your now. It is the familiar ‘∆ t’ considered as a dependent variable. The more you dwell in the past and in the future, the thicker your bandwidth, the more solid your persona. But the narrower your sense of Now, the more tenuous you are.'” Thomas Pynchon from Gravity’s Rainbow
“Here’s the divide: The young and educated see the possibilities of life without borders and nationality, not necessarily so much as grand ideology but certainly for the convenience and opportunity. Older and perhaps less worldly people see borders as defining autonomy and identity. They are less sanguine about sharing their homes, cars, photos or their space with strangers and aliens. The former view, the premise on which so much new wealth is founded, is the high value opinion. The latter view obviously is the low value one because the people who espouse it are so much poorer. In that, there is a confusing zeitgeist issue. In the modern era, particularly since borders and regulations began to drop in the 1980s, the zeitgeist has slavishly followed the money. But culture, a sense of well-being and personal identity has, before this, in a more classic conservative sense of valuing bonds with the past, often superseded economic considerations. One of the truly bad words of classic conservatism in fact is ‘innovation.’ Edmund Burke refers to the ‘innovator’s lust for power.’ Curiously, much of the new, left, young, urban zeitgeist is, while theoretically anti-wealth, in full cultural alignment with those innovations that create such wealth.” – Michael Wolff
“The left says: ‘Look, it’s very simple. The political press ultimately serves the interests of the people who own it— the corporate capitalists, the ones with money and power and ‘access’ to politicians, the people who run things and always have. Those who are unwilling to make peace with this fact don’t make it very far in political journalism.’ The right says: ‘Look, it’s very simple. Press coverage reflects the bias of the people who produce it— and they’re liberals!’ Conservatives who are against abortion, suspicious of gay rights, skeptical about global warming, against the redistribution of wealth and instinctively wary of government regulation don’t make it very far in political journalism. ‘Look, it’s very simple,’ our journalists say. ‘The press isn’t on the side of the left or the right. Of course, journalists are human. They have passions, they have interests, they have opinions. But these are irrelevant to the way they define and do their job, which is to find out what’s happening and tell the world about it. Ideologues don’t make it very far in political journalism.’ In the puny camp that I’m a part of the first sentence is: This is complicated… Jay Rosen
“Kim Kardashian West’s boob is so soft it makes velvet feel like splinters. It makes the fur on a baby bunny’s tummy feel like a plastic bag of syringes. It is so soft that touching it is like scooping up the delicate pink dawn sky with your fingers, or holding a ball of lotion in your hand. It is softer than the thick, warm, all-enveloping smoothness that caresses a globule of wax as it travels up a lava lamp. I know this because Kim Kardashian West has just put down her passion-fruit iced tea and peeled back her sleeveless Adidas x Kanye West bodysuit so that I could place my hand on it (the boob) while we eat dinner under the furious early stars at the Beverly Hills Hotel.’Even though I’m an ass girl, Kanye always says my boobs don’t get as much credit as they deserve,’ Kim explained. At the time that she invited me to touch the upper-left quadrant of her left breast, I was merely an unkempt person Kim Kardashian West had met one time. And yet, on just our second short meeting, I felt comfortable enough to ask her to ‘please describe what your boobs feel like.’ That’s how we got here. ‘Really soft!’ exclaimed Kim, seated primly in an out-of-the-way patio booth. She was eating half a salad. I was eating a hot dog and fries on her enthusiastic recommendation. (‘I love the hot dog here.’ she said with a sparkle, neglecting to mention I would have to order this item from the kids’ menu.) (Real good hot dog.) ‘You wanna feel?’ she asked. ‘Yup.’ I said.” – Caity Weaver
“Our language, for almost a century, has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonic character, and deviating towards a Gallic structure and phraseology.” Dr. Johnson
“Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent.” Chairman Mao
One of the tidbits coughed up by institutional economics states that the division of labor, as we understand it, dates back to the Middle Ages. Closer to home Mom divvied up all the chores and the duty of attending that semi-regular civic function known as a Rubber Chicken Dinner (RCD) fell to me. Some of you might be familiar with such things, for those of you who have never had the pleasure it goes like this; in a large hotel banquet room at least 100 people gather to eat Monsanto’s chicken-like substance, but not before being served a “salad” composed of that sorry excuse for lettuce known as “greens.” Hiding beneath the “greens” are all manner of f’n sticky little walnuts. Oh sure, you can try scraping them off, you can even try to use the knife provided, but it only makes things worse. While you’re at it you can pretty much write off scraping the damn things off with a roll. Yes, there’s a bread basket. There’s even a decorative pat of butter on a little plate with a tiny butter knife, but the second you ask some one to pass the rolls they become hysterical deaf or instantly involved in someone else’s conversation.
While I am not required to attend any RCD which is strictly a fund-raising exercise I am under strict orders to attend those that award those about to retire for their many years of compulsive behavior. Such was the case last weekend when I went to a RCD honoring a man who had tirelessly attended to the drainage of low-lying areas under the aegis of some “sanction tax entity” that may or may not report to the governor. Our alleged host for the evening was some high sheriff from the legislature who was driving from the other side of the state to put on the feedbag, acknowledge roughly half the audience, take 45 minutes to “say a few words”, and hand out some sort of engraved clear acrylic lump which probably came from the came vat as tonight’s dinner.
Such was not the case.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not like the night didn’t start off al swank ’n stuff. There was an open bar where you had your choice of COSTCO’s Kirkland label microbrew or wine out of a box. One box of wine had been drained by a couple of gents standing near me. Both were slightly older than me and while not consuming box wine Olsen and Johnson loudly took turns finding one another terribly amusing. This seemed to be moving along well enough until the master of ceremonies, a lesser functionary of the legislature, came in and announced that the high sheriff couldn’t make it. While we were repeatedly assured that he was on his way it turned out he never left his house for reasons unknown.
This did not go unnoticed by the slightly older comedians at the end of the “bar.” The Olsen hollered across the room, “If we were givin’ out an award to a one-legged Harley ridin’ Chinese transsexual he woulda been here yesterday!”
With that his Johnson doubled over in laughter. As he straighten up Olsen went about brushing off Johnson’s lapels and in an even louder voice said, “OH I AM SO SORRY! DID I GET MY P-C ALL OVER YOU! HERE, LET ME BRUSH THAT DARN P-C OFF!”
Before they could get all that out of their system our host returned to tell us that the honoree was a no show as well. Through clenched teeth he got out something about a hip replacement gone bad and to make his point he snatch the beer out of my hand, waved it at the dining room, and told everyone to go have a seat as dinner was being served.
Commotion broke out all around. That’s two entrees too many and you can’t just put those back in the ‘fridge. Monsanto has a whole cube farm full of Philadelphia layers who have nothing better to do than swoop down on the poor sap who would re-heat, re-serve, or chop up into salad. And it’s not like you can put it back in the 55-gallon drum it came in. There are procedures for these things, strict procedures, and if you don’t follow them to the letter then the Moon will turn blood red and across the land chickens, who at the molecular level somewhat resembled tonight’s entree, would cease to lay.
None of this mattered to me.
I was transfixed.
The Gnostics said that you can receive enlightenment by hearing only a few words. God knows, that moment had arrived for me. I had not lost 2/3rds of a warm bottle of COSTCO’s finest IPA, I had been given a passage, an opening, a gateway into the far reaches of the cosmos. My mind was racing through time and space and out there is some far reach of existence, a place that looked like it had been personally designed by Jack Kirby, there was a phone pole and on that phone pole there was a post that said, ‘TONIGHT ONLY! ONE-LEGGED HARLEY RIDIN’ CHINESE TRANSSEXUAL!”
No cover charge.
The salad came, the salad went, dinner arrived. Mostly it was a blur of motions around me. Now and then I would notice Olsen and Johnson across the table. They would erupt in a mild spasm and you could see them mouth the words,“…one legged… huff…. huff good one!” Not me, I could hear the whole thing. In fact I kept hearing the whole thing in my head over and over and over until it was almost mantra-like.
You see, at that moment, I’d been given a gift. Between now and November I didn’t have to have an opinion. If some one asked me about Trump and the Brexiteers all I had to do is look them in the eye and say, “So I was at this dinner the other night and do you know what I heard some guy say?”
The rest of the evening is pretty much a blur. By the time I got in the car I came around and started to wonder if the convenience that statement gave me outweighed the efficiency or the efficiency was greater than the convenience?
But as Mom likes to say, if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. Such was the case the next morning when I was overcome with the question of, “How did we get here?”
Stick around – I’m about to take the blame for Trump.
Over the past few weeks a couple of things stood out, one concerns the large scale media and the other involves class structures.
Let’s start with the media.
When the Brexit vote was counted no one was as shocked at the British media. CSPAN picked up ITV’s feed which provided no end of dumbfounded looks. Save for one guy, the pundits could not clutch their pearls fast enough. None of them saw this coming.
How could this be?
Let’s start with something Jürgen Habermas said:
The publicity effort, however, a carefully managed display of public relations, showed that the public sphere (deprived, for the most part, of its original functions) under the patronage of administrations, special-interest associations, and parties was now made to contribute in a different fashion to the process of integrating state and society.
Large scale media has internalized all that to the point that it’s a bit like knocking on wood or throwing salt over your shoulder – how that all got started is lost to the ages, it’s all internalized now. The daily function of reporting and informing becomes automatic and unconsciously worked through as if its all like breathing or blinking your eyes. Sure, there’s been financial turbulence, but when you look at the reaction to the financial drain there’s no indication that anybody wants to do anything differently. At least in this country a few of the Beltway types figured out they have no idea what the Average Joe thinks or does. No that it makes any difference. Reporting goes on and at this very second no one in the old large scale media has a clue about what’s happening – in an election year – but we do have a gloriously rendered 5000-word write up about the upper half of a Kardashian’s anatomy.
Yeah, I know – there he goes again.
But at some point the old large scale media itself has to move on from being numb to the scorn its received for years and get to a point where it understands that it serves no one when it talks to no one but the insiders and itself.
Which brings up a second point – media and class.
Last week Michael Wolff ran this out in The Hollywood Reporter:
Here’s the divide: The young and educated see the possibilities of life without borders and nationality, not necessarily so much as grand ideology but certainly for the convenience and opportunity. Older and perhaps less worldly people see borders as defining autonomy and identity. They are less sanguine about sharing their homes, cars, photos or their space with strangers and aliens. The former view, the premise on which so much new wealth is founded, is the high value opinion. The latter view obviously is the low value one because the people who espouse it are so much poorer. In that, there is a confusing zeitgeist issue. In the modern era, particularly since borders and regulations began to drop in the 1980s, the zeitgeist has slavishly followed the money. But culture, a sense of well-being and personal identity has, before this, in a more classic conservative sense of valuing bonds with the past, often superseded economic considerations. One of the truly bad words of classic conservatism in fact is ‘innovation.’ Edmund Burke refers to the ‘innovator’s lust for power.’ Curiously, much of the new, left, young, urban zeitgeist is, while theoretically anti-wealth, in full cultural alignment with those innovations that create such wealth.
For years we’ve been told that the Internet(s) would force us into idealogical silos, single-minded echo chambers that would turn us all into tribes. Interesting up to the point that it fails to take the global recession into account. Once you factor that in then you can make the case that we’re not moving into silos, we’re moving deeper into our respective social and economic classes.
And I’m as guilty as anybody. Back in 2007 we got rid of cable and started sourcing our news from places like the BBC. We’d heard enough yelling on the cable channels to know that it wasn’t journalism or even informative. (Unlike most of you – and you’re not going to like this – we didn’t think much of the yelling topical comedians either.) By cutting the cord we removed ourselves from what Wolff calls “a far more loyal audience and much better economic bet” – those who kept the cord.
Because our level of education and income allowed it.
Also along those lines – only thing that was even remotely surprising in all of this is that Olson and Johnson were not in my face about the demise of newspapers. What they said didn’t surprise me as most of the time when I encounter folks of a certain age their all bent out of shape about the fate of the newspapers, local tv, or NPR and some how that’s my fault.
But enough of all that.
I’m in the media and I never saw Trump coming. Even worse, I’m one of those cord-cutting elitist libtards who’d rather get his news from some dirty foreigner because I think the American media’s product is no better than anything that came out of Detroit c. 1977.
Put it all together and I guess I must be to blame for Trump.
I’ll save some other thought on Britain and the US crossing paths for later. But I will leave you with this thought. Boris Johnson used to be some sort of automotive reviewer. The idea that some one who used to do that sort of thing is as ridiculous as thinking someone in this country writing for some innocuous publication like TV Guide could rise to proinence by being a cheerleader for some unnecessary military expedition in the Middle East.
… oh … wait
In closing – Trump, my bad.