TSOL: Are we information obese?

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TSOL: Are we information obese?

Post by RJN » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:10 am

http://theschooloflife.typepad.com/the_ ... ction.html
The need to diet, which we know so well in relation to food, and which runs so contrary to our natural impulse, is something we now have to relearn in relation to knowledge, people and ideas. We require periods of fast in the life of our minds no less than in that of our bodies.
"Food for thought."

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Re: TSOL: Are we information obese?

Post by Orca » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:21 am

On the one hand I can see what he's getting at. It's easy to fly through your days without really slowing down and living in the moment.

On the other, I don't think that decreasing our intake of information is the problem. When most people are "anxiously reaching for a machine," often they are looking for distraction from the stresses in life in the form of social networks, sports scores and entertainment; it is unlikely they are looking up some interesting new word, historical event, or new technology.

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Re: TSOL: Are we information obese?

Post by owlice » Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:07 pm

Yeah, I kind of get what I think he might be after, though disagree with much of what he says.

For example, this hit me: "We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture"

Really? He hasn't seen the programming for most major symphony orchestras then, has he, at least in the US?! When I'm buying tickets, I deliberately look for concerts which have new works -- or even works composed in the last 40 years -- and have to wade through a flotilla of Mozart symphonies to find them. The public can't be challenged by new works they never hear, and they can't hear them if they aren't programmed.

"We leave an auditorium vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film's values."

I either need to go to the movies more often or go with Alain; the last movie I saw was "A Serious Man," and I don't recall wanting to reconsider my life in light of that film's values. I was entertained, though, which is what I was expecting.

"our experience is well on the way to dissolution – just like so much of what once impressed us and which we then came to discard"

But not everything that initially impressed us bears up under later experiences, and some things that didn't initially impress us may grow in our estimation. We learn as we go along; experiences get put into context, and the context of our lives changes as we live. Some experiences are profound; some which seemed to be at the time they occurred lose their profundity. The ones that are profound, that impress us deeply, stay (which is why we say they impressed us deeply :-) ). Surely each of us can recall moments in our lives, though they may have occurred a long time ago, that still inspire us, or bring us to tears, or make us clutch our chests in anguish, or make us smile, and which guide us in some small or large way.

"The painstaking craftsmanship behind a pre-Gutenberg Bible was evidence of a society that could not afford to make room for an unlimited range of works but also welcomed restriction as the basis for a proper engagement with a set of ideas."

How does he know they "welcomed restriction"? They didn't really have a choice! I might love to have 10,000 CDs but am restricted by space and money so don't! (I wouldn't really love to have 10,000 CDs, but I know plenty of people who would but can't because of the space/money restrictions, and even some who do, plus tens of thousands more.)

"in the process don't allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds"

Yet when I am so distressed and cannot listen to music, as I was after 9/11, I find my way back to it because "a work of culture" has assumed a weight in my mind, can coax me back because of the weight it's assumed. And after that one work has broken the draught, usually after repeated listenings, another coaxes me along a little further because it, too, has "assumed a weight" in my mind. For others, distress leads them to music or to other cultural works which have assumed a weight in their minds.

I'd say I have to ponder this, but that would make Alain's article a distraction, wouldn't it? Enough thinking for one day -- laundry calls! :mrgreen:
A closed mouth gathers no foot.