Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sensory-Motor, Sensory-Overload

First day of summer here and suddenly it's beastly hot. Spent several hours and a half-tank of gas trying to find a rendezvous point in glorious Paramus, New Jersey. I then realized that without a cell phone these days if you are lost in Paramus, you are stuck. No pay phones anywhere and if you ask somebody for a street address, nobody knows it because most of Paramus is one big mall and they would know, presumably, if I asked where K-Mart was, but not the whereabouts of a building that was not devoted strictly to shopping. I finally gave up and went home. It wasn't much fun in any event because it was around 100 degrees. We all have our lives. This is mine.

And here we are, a bunch of human machines designed in terms of evolution to do things we no longer do, or no longer have the need to do. Like rip big chunks of semi-raw meat apart with our incisors (unless one frequents Outback Steakhouses), or the flight-or-fight thing, which ends up turning into lying in bed at night worrying about money. Money doesn't attack, so there's nothing to fly or fight about. Yet many of us in hard times have involuntary caveman panics about things we do not control by a physical act. Money worries are like that.

Another thing. We do find ourselves with various messages on electronic media that we need to respond to and the communication thing is one of those human propensities we've developed, that is the use of language in speech and writing. And yet when we watch television or roll around the internet we get half-messages all the time, things we cannot respond to. So we end up mumbling something to ourselves often enough. A real-time response to a real person might change the outcome of the message's effect on you. Yet it isn't possible to respond that way.What we haven't quite learned as humans is how to ignore these messages, I mean completely, and I am not sure we always should, but certainly in more cases now than ever before, perhaps, we most definitely should. Like say you've seen the ad for funeral insurance on TV 100 times. You aren't going to get it, let's say, for whatever reason. Yet you keep getting the message over and over.

You need to be able to ignore the message completely. But you don't. You can't, quite. At least I can't. I may think I am. Then the next day a phrase from the ad pops into my head. Part of me was still listening. Or, as another example, a side effect for a drug you will never take for whatever reason, heard over and over again in an endlessly repeating TV ad. Do you need that rattling around in your head? No. It's not healthy, even, because it's very morbid information of no use to you and psychologically it casts gloom in your life.

When I was an adolescent the Surgeon General released the famous report that cigarette smoking was dangerous to your health, etc. I remember a father saying to us teen punks, "I don't understand why you still smoke when we now know it kills you. WE didn't know that when we were your age." Well, yeah, but WE were exposed to 100,000 cigarette ads on TV and those messages were lodged firmly in our heads. No excuses here, people should not smoke, but not-forgetting is a factor we need to keep in mind. Brainwashing is real and it goes on all the time electronically, like it or not. It starts out one assumes as the goal of creating desire, for the product, for the show, for the news, but it turns into something else sooner or later, wittingly or unwittingly.

And it's ironic that we have to thank Ronald Reagan, the man who was developing Alzheimer's in the White House, for all the pharma ads and their side effects. What he could not help forgetting we cannot seem to forget.

The human evolutionary cycle has not yet developed the capacity to wipe selectively parts of our mental hard drives. . . to forget, selectively, voluntarily, purposively and permanently things that are not only unnecessary but even harmful to know at some point in our lives.

Well. I'll be a monkey's uncle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Here We Stand, Here We Sit

It's been a while so I thought I'd check in. How are you all? Good? All three of you? Or four? The internet is a place where you could be writing for four people, or four thousand, and yet the writing is the same labor.

There aren't any limitations on size, large or small, and yet you just never know. It's a humbling experience, after writing articles that I know were at least in the hands of 500,000 people, 500,000 copies printed and distributed, all with gigantic effort and paying jobs for many people. What I write here keeps in part some guy who sees to the server on Blogspot with a job. I am glad of that. And I appreciate what she or he is doing, wherever he or she may be. . . Singapore? The West Coast? India?

It's all so abstract, though, isn't it? Who is doing what, where, when, who is reading what, where, when, who is alive and awake in the world at any particular moment?

The definition of common terms have changed with the abstractions of virtuality, too. "Friends," for example, used to be face-to-face folks you knew, had a beer with, talked about things one-on-one, who knew your history and vice-versa. Today it can be very different that way. I read somewhere of a kid on Facebook who had thousands of friends (on Facebook) yet in the "real" world had almost none. That I guess is sad. But no different than the age-old thing called the pen pal? Those women authors like Emily D, writing for an unspecified group of somebodies. Probably not that different in terms of how it felt, but in the romanticization of hindsight, it all sounds so IMPORTANT. What's important now? Right now? Nothing much. And who is pretending? Not me. To pretend, you need to get a running dialog of horseshoot going in your head and that is stultifying, in the end. Who needs stultification? If somebody reads me, I am happy for that. And that is that. Has to be.

As the beer jingle went, "Here's to good friends, tonight is kind of special, the beer you drink, must be something more somehow...." Let it be virtual. Besides, I don't drink beer anymore. My system doesn't tolerate that amount of carbs anymore. Eh. "Ufa," as my Italian translating friend and workmate used to say.