I am more than a bit stressed out about my apartment situation. I'm going to B-lo on Friday, so I need to get it rented by Thursday, or I am going to end up paying a whole lot in August. Not how I want to start the last month of summer; broke. Send good rental karma this week please!
I had a fantastic weekend. Running around chinatown with L., wangch61 and mrshellion, fun movies, pissy dvd players, and near misses with beached belugas. Good mexican gourmet, some darts (which I still suck at, kudos misterpardonme) and a great breakfast down at riverside park. I have decided before the summer is out, i will try a marshmallow flavored coolata from Dunkin Donuts. Not that I think marshmallow flavored coffee will be particularly delish, but I am CURIOUS goddammit! Last night I made fried rainbow trout with carrot/crab stuffing, garlic smashed potatoes, and swiss chard with dill/carrot/lemongrass sauce and fresh green apples. The chard was my Iron Chef challenge for the evening, and I think I met it pretty well.
Not unlike a few other people on my friend's list, I am having a hard time keeping the flames of hatred I always have glowing in the back of my mind well coked in light of the past few weeks. Maybe a content paradigm shift will not be the worst thing ever to happen to this little ramble of a blog.
Where was I? Oh, right, books, and how they relate back to reality.
Shattuck's book has me re-evaluating my outlook on knowledge, in a way I am not completely comfortable with.
I have always worked under the assumption that all information is good. Information allows people to make decisions. It allows for intelligent decisions to be made. Information is the heart's blood of my world. What am I really, except a glib encyclopedia of useless information?
Shattuck introduces the paradox of Pandora's box into a modern context. What if there are things we are just better off not knowing, as individuals, or a society? One of my other favorite books, The Years of Rice and Salt, plays the scenario of nuclear arms and technology being developed by a benevolent society of enlightened folks, rather than a semi-despotic national government. How would that change the world? For that matter, what would have happened if nuclear power had been harnessed under a period of totalitarian global domination, rather than some fractional global political scape? The likleyhood is nuclear power would have been more of a drive than nuclear weapons. How would that have changed the world for the better? I'd rather be speaking German and driving a car running a fuel cell or electric motor (because power would have been such a different issue) than worrying about peak oil every time I hear about OPEC's antics.
Information, may, ultimately, set us free, but it damns us at the same time. In our society particularly, information control is so regulated. There are spin doctors spinning the dog waggers - how do you sift what is real and what is not? How do you verify the veracity of your data, if not with your own eyes? Information in our world does not set us free - it becomes another issue of dominance and control.
I realize this is a reactionatory and paranoid outlook on government and corporate intervention in the discovery of information. However, time and again, this has shown itself to be a problem. I'd prefer nobody knowing a thing to a small select group knowing a thing, and being able to use that to exert control over/exploit the ignorant. Information only sets us free when it is shared.
I guess, in theory, this is why I am against the idea of patents. I understand the fundamentals and history of their evolution in modern law, but when I read about things like this recent move by Microsoft, it really churns my stomach, Citing ownership of part of a language? Where will the madness end? Intellectual Property Rights is to corporate culture what most major religious tracts are to fundamentalist cults.
I've long proclaimed my lack of hope for the system, and advocated a "soft reset" as the only hope of a POSSIBILITY of things working out on the next iteration. The cynical part of me believes even this to be folly. The hope on one end of the scale is that by reducing knowledge, people will be forced to rely on each other more, and life life more in the now, rather than the pursuit of tomorrow's gains. The flip side is that technology will move along rapidly, so much so that it changes the fundamental pillars of our species. At that point, we will have pushed past a horizon in our history as a communal biological life form, and will amalgamate into some new thing - not entirely human, though I am sure we will continue to call ourselves that for years to come.
Fossil fuels are a good example. How many fewer people would have died, how much less impact would the environment have faced, how much less time would have been wasted if petroleum had not been the primary fuel of choice for combustion engines? We sure as hell wouldn't be in Iraq right now, but then again, we might not even be here at all, without plastics and international travel moving the way they did. You can't assume that parallel technological advancements would result in the same end products.
I'm in a hopeless muddle philosophically. I blame the ozone layer. That, or the fact that I have slept better in the past three weeks than I have in the last ten years, and that I have slept more in the past 72 hours than I have over any weekend at all in about the same amount of time.
It scares me a little - what will I become without my madness? Stay tuned.
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