Benjamin Bratton‘s talk on TEDx, New perspectives: What’s Wrong with TED Talks? (transcript here: We need to talk about TED) is very good. Not, to my mind perfect, but then what is. He really nails it with his description of TED as “middlebrow megachurch infotainment” and I feel his warnings about ‘placebo politics’ are important. Being, as the title of this blog suggests, a very neutral person (I really am, I avoid confrontation at all costs, mostly because I’m very, very bad at it), I don’t think it was helpful to generalize about conservatives having a media that brackets reality and assume that they are not among the TED viewership demographic – having lived around conservatives I have heard the exact same statements from them about liberals and the ‘liberal media’, which I suppose brackets reality for them, and conservative-identified people do occasionally watch TED talks and not just to bitch about them. But I’m not really that bothered, this was a fantastic talk. Also, if I’m being totally honest I agree about conservative media channels. And I don’t really see liberalism (or conservatism) in their current and most practiced forms as much more than sports teams to cheer for. Obviously with differences, but they’re mainly bullshit differences to the extent that what you mostly get is a load of armchair pundits braying noisily.
Also, the left/right dichotomy is very, very dumb. More specifically, the importance we attach to it is. It ascribes significance to history and culture which I don’t think matches up to a big picture.
I am a prime example of someone who doesn’t quite act in accordance with what I feel is the highest sense of duty. I am conscious of it. The effort required to live well is sometimes more than I feel I have. I am also aware that this is a feedback loop, and have pushed through the inertia enough times to know, even if it’s just a memory, that energy comes when you need it as you choose to take action, and there’s nothing quite as exhausting as lethargy. A day spent watching youtube is easy, but naturally about as rewarding as spending a day watching youtube. I.e., not very.
It being the new year it is a culturally accepted time to make resolutions to change (I guess for the better, maybe some people decide to change for the worse, or in some ironic way or other). I’m extremely crap at this. I tend to rationalize my actions according to a worldview which I have cultivated (parallel to my understanding of the philosophies of Lovecraft, Ligotti, Danielewski – that life is not really important or much of anything in the biggest picture, and that the more we explore and discover, the closer we come to realizing how unimportant we are), and this tends to be an excuse to be a little bit lazy. But not as fun as being lazy. Sort of defeated.
That said, I feel there is a glimmer of hope. In a way it’s annoying, as I’d love for there to be an excuse to lead a wretched life as a victim of an uncaring universe. It’s poetic. But irritatingly enough there are people I admire, love, care about, and feel a strong sense of duty towards. There are principles of stewardship. There are stupid ideas that I would rather not see go unchecked. I have a daughter whom I love and want to provide for. I have a rather amazing wife who knows me and knows how I think and isn’t phased, for which she should receive top marks.
So I guess I have a resolution, which is to work harder, and persevere despite feeling like I should stop and take a nap or browse whatever aggregate website has the best pointless infotainment.