Welcome to the Dimformation Age!
notes from the desk of Ned Mudd
reporting from the crawlspace of history
“Democracy destroys itself because it abuses its right to freedom and equality. Because it
teaches its citizens to consider audacity as a right, lawlessness as a freedom, abrasive
speech as equality, and anarchy as progress.” -Isocrates (436–338 BC)
They say creativity is both a matter of acquired savvy and genetic drift. Perhaps. But is the reverse not also true? Is our species, Homo erectus asphaltus, poised to squander the innate creative spark lurking inside the shimmering evanescence of our frontal lobes? The answer to that question, my friends, is not only sobering, but bodes poorly for the future of our era: The Dimformation Age.
Nobody with more than a handful of ganglia could possibly have missed the fact that something downright funky is underway across the GMO Fruited Plains. The America that was once a hothouse of creative fire is quickly morphing into a vapid tanning bed of insipidity. What used to boogie now twitches. What once shimmied, now shutters. Take a moment to consider how goofy we’ve become in these heady days of data diving iPhone paradise: “In a 2010 study of about 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said.” (MSNBC)
Absurdity knows no bounds.
Now stretch your imagination forward in time, picturing America’s legion of kids, fully clad in their grown up bodies. A sad prospect, indeed. While the rest of the world busts their ass in a race to the top of the rock, both in terms of academics and innovation, we’re too busy gawking at the latest televised version of America’s plastic housewives to make sense of our own lives. Pass the Xanax.
Let me interrupt myself to ask this very important question: Did you know that there are 200 million insects for every one human being? Kind of makes you want to rethink your vacation plans, doesn’t it? Not to fret, most of our six-legged neighbors have little more than a fleeting interest in our primatological doings. But, perhaps there’s cause for pause: exactly when are the insects going to make their move and take over the planet? Don’t laugh, these days anything can (and will) happen. Especially if Rupert Murdoch can make a shilling in the process. Where’s my Mayan calendar? Let’s move on – here’s an oddly amusing chunk of cultural mojo – possibly of interest to intrepid lifestyle geeks – Seasteading. What sounds like a metrosexual fishing tournament is actually the latest in a growing swell of quasi-libertarian utopianism. In essence, the gig is to construct mega-islands built on platforms in International waters. These nerdy autonomous nation-states will not only resemble bulbous floating cities, but are said to be think tanks of “new ideas for government.”
The weirdness becomes apparent when considering the details. “The basic idea is for these new countries to start from scratch — free from the laws, regulations, and moral codes of any existing place,” says the International Business Times. As a card carrying Libertarian, I’m perfectly okay making the following prediction: We are looking at an unmitigated snafu in the making. Davy Jones, where are you? Let’s imagine how our seafaring utopians might look after, say, three months – Once the excitement of being free settles into a steady state of equilibrium, our heroes will find themselves embroiled in one quotidian chore the rest of us ground-dwellers know too well: the laundry. But not to worry, with no onerous laws holding back the flow, soap suds can gush freely into the deep blue sea. As can all other forms of noxious effluent, otherwise known as pollution. As disciples of Christopher Stone might ask: “Do fish have standing?” (Sorry, inside lawyer joke.)
Of course, taking out the trash is as free and easy as opening the nearest porthole and giving it the old “heave ho!” Let’s leave the bathroom discussion for later. Suffice it to say, freedom can get squirrelly real fast, even out past the breakers where the those cute dolphins roam.
And now, to the fun stuff: Let’s say Leroy decides to get slap-happy drunk and cranks his surround-sound mega-blaster a few notches north of full blast. To add fuel to the fire, Leroy has a deep-seated obsession for all things related to death metal. (Cannibal Corpse, anyone?) Suffice it to say, many of Leroy’s fellow shipmates possess other proclivities. Houston, we have a problem. In a quest to to maintain order, a couple of ocean going diplomats approach Leroy and offer a bit of compromise: Blue Beard’s détente. It’s proposed that Leroy turn down his three story boombox or get a good pair of headphones, which ever he prefers. To which he replies: “This is a free country, dudes, and I’m exercising my frigging right to do whatever I frigging please. So kiss my libertarian ass!” Leroy has a point: “No laws, regulations, or moral codes.”
Back at the ranch, a group convenes to mull things over. To wit: Leroy is pissing off his neighbors and needs what the Chinese politburo refers to as “reeducation.” Which, in this case, means that a handful of irate sea thugs marches over to Leroy’s place and use his inebriated carcass for kung fu practice. Violence tends to generate immediate results. It’s the long term silliness you have to watch out for. And in this case, Leroy has just discovered what unbridled freedom is all about. (see Isocrates quote above)
Without belaboring the issue, spin that humanoid algorithm out to its end point and you run up against Monkey Island in about 18 months. At which time our lovely experiment in utopian social engineering becomes a hot piece of breaking news on Fox TV as the floating megapolis sinks under its own hubris.
As they say in Peoria: You can take the chimp out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the chimp.
Don’t you wish you had a dime for every time you read about some stupid human trick? With a sharp eye and a willingness to remain glued to the tube, you’d collect enough dimes in a couple of weeks to buy a few shares of Apple’s stock. And, assuming the market doesn’t go the way of the Blue footed booby, your net worth just might pop through the celestial roof faster than a coprophilous (aka: dung-loving fungi).
And, to assist your search for said sordid tales, here’s an interesting tidbit from the vault: “By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life.” (New York Times)
As if one China isn’t enough. Let’s face it, seven billion monkeys in blue jeans is one Olympic pole vault over the proverbial top. But, instead of dealing with the naked truth of overpopulation, the Green Facade now steers us along the Holy Quest, in search of the elusive Grail, albeit in the guise of renewable energy and increased agricultural yields. The Emperor is dancing in his sustainable birthday suit to the strains of the latest Ga-Ga pabulum.
I’ve shouted from the rooftops long enough that my own echo is becoming convincing.
So, let’s try it one more time – I=PAT. Human Impact equals Population (x) Affluence (x)Technology. Look it up. In the long run, we either reduce the sheer number of us, or we reduce our affluence. The choice is ours; maybe. Calling Al Gore! It’s a sad day in Mudville, ladies and gents, when you find yourself confronted with systemic myopia and the Blind Eye Blues.
And now, the rest of the story….
Creativity is one of those sneaky biorhythms that refuses to be squeezed into a pattern, or repeated at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, that fact appears to have slipped under the radar of modern socio-hipness. Much like the making of a a fine gumbo, the art of creativity requires that leftovers be allowed to find their way into the stew pot. Stir often.
The question is this: Does America really think we can proceed into the Great Unknown under the power of a generation that’s “less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas” than the nitwits currently running our own quaint version of the Theater of the Absurd?
Let’s hope not.
Perhaps we’re just collectively burned out from what Mr. Dylan once called “too much of nothing.” A quick glance in any department store certainly illustrates exactly how much of nothing we have. But a keen sense of the obvious easily groks that a generation of American kids hell bent on spending untold waking hours engrossed in virtual limbo, glued to a glaring computer screen, will grow up with serious integrative social defects. Whatever that psychobabble means.
The bad thing is, there’s no easy way out of this mess. At least not as long as parents rely on electronic babysitters to raise the nation’s progeny. On the other hand, there’s always the possibility that something will intervene before the dung flies through the fan. What that intervening force will be depends on how creative we become. Catch 22 redux.
Note to reader: For an updated exposé on population, carrying capacity, and the ongoing demise
of the natural world, see Dave Foreman’s new erudite tome: “Man Swarm and the Killing of
Wildlife.” Available via the Rewilding Institute. http://rewilding.org/rewildit/
NED MUDD is a regular contributor to The Zephyr. he lives in Birmingham, Alabama. firstname.lastname@example.org
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