Showing posts with label social harmony. Show all posts
Showing posts with label social harmony. Show all posts

Friday, August 15, 2014

On directing "the madness of crowds to unexamined targets of outrage"

While I certainly don't agree with everything in Gary Indiana's review of a new biography of William Burroughs (is it really necessary to disparage realism and coherent narrative in praising more experimental fiction? I think not), it is certainly a readable engagement with an author about whose work I know far too little.

In any case, I also liked these passages:

The radically anti-authoritarian, left-libertarian notions he espoused probably look like irresponsible nihilism (or ‘antinomian morality’, in Schjeldahl’s solecism) to many of those ensconced at their computer screens during most of their waking life, or bedazzled by mobiles and ubiquitous electronic signage in a society overloaded with information yet drained of authentic experience. It now seems almost logical that the insight Burroughs offers into the brain-scrambling technical synaesthesia spreading everywhere would be precisely what brands him a crackpot, rather than the silly religions and fatuous disciplines he so often became fascinated by. Still, I feel it’s necessary to say how stupid this inverted logic is.

On social media legions of isolated individuals, with the brainless malice of a concierge, spread ‘the real dirt’ on artists, writers, actors, musicians, athletes and others in the public eye. A tsunami of ugly feelings surges across the global clothesline at the mere mention of ‘Woody Allen’ or ‘Roman Polanski’ in the press; Burroughs, too, has an anti-claque of Torquemada wannabes, enraged over his accidental shooting of his wife in 1951. Social media can launch a witch hunt or pogrom just as readily as a ‘progressive’ uprising, and in either instance directs the madness of crowds to unexamined targets of outrage; the technology itself is probably as addictive as heroin, since it acts directly on neural synapses, and its instantaneous transmission eliminates any space for reflection or analysis between emotional impulse and action. 

It rather seriously overworks the biological analogy of the-internet-as-drug, but as a description of the ultimately frustrating nature of social media discussions these days (one wave of overheated tribal screaming after another...), it certainly struck a chord with me.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

From the thrilling days of anti-bluebell bolshevism

If for no other reason, I am thankful Facebook exists because I may not otherwise have been made aware (by my friend Chris) of this wonderful quote from the diaries of the late Queen Mother (recently published, edited by William Shawcross), apparently from 1924, when she would have been in her early 20s:

“I am extremely anti-Labour. They are so far apart from fairies and owls and bluebells & Americans & all the things I like. If they agree with me, I know they are pretending – in fact I believe everything is a pretence to them.”

This seems a tad extreme: given her extensive list of likes and dislikes -- many of them quite sensible --  I'm sure that there would have been at least some common ground to be found with Labour, even with its radical anti-bluebell faction:

“I like so many things”, the Duchess of York enthused in an early letter to [D'Arcy] Osborne, “fairy stories, fat butlers, porters, the smell of tangerines, suave Orientals, a good tune, lovely colours, French accents, puppies, bath salts, & a million more”. She disliked fewer things, but heartily. “Tactlessness annoys me – also rudeness . . . crass stupidity, & people who are pleased with themselves. Also spiders, caterpillars, slugs, frogs, toads, loud voices & nasty coughs”. 

I mean, who doesn't like puppies, suave Orientals and French accents?

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Getting it together

A few things run across this morning with regard to the rioting in London that restore my faith in British society.

"If we're fighting for a cause let's fight for a fucking cause. You lot piss me the fuck off."

That about sums it up.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Insulting the Germans

The activity mentioned in the title has a long and storied history across the Sleeve, and, as we occasionally note here, is far from a lost art.

There is, for instance, the more direct method...

A man brought his German-born neighbour close to tears by twice calling her a schweinhund, a court heard yesterday.

...which suffers only the slight drawback that a knowledge of German that goes beyond comic books may be essential: the correct word is Schweinehund.

Don't forget that little linking 'e', and always remember that all German nouns, especially the insulting ones, should be capitalised. (Thanks to The Wife for the link.)

The other, more subtle way of insulting the Germans may be observed in an article at the Guardian by Ashley Seager a few days ago.

It's about the impact of the Global Financial Worldwide Totally Scary Economic Thingy (or whatever) on this here place I call home.

So far as it goes, I think Ashley is correct--though not entirely original--in saying that said economic impact is going to be...wait for it...quite severe.

Fair enough.

But he manages the very strange feat of suggesting that key characteristics of the German economy (Making High-Quality Things That The World Wants To Buy) and of the German population more generally (Being Somewhat Cautious With Their Money and Not Going Crazily Into Debt) are not the sensible and virtuous things you might have thought and are...instead...somehow...deeply shameful.

I think he should have just come out and used the word Schweinehund.

It would have been friendlier.