Tuesday, February 20, 2007

one of the drawbacks of getting your ideas form television is that you have to get your ideas in small enough chunks to fit between commercial breaks. noam chomsky pointed this out in the film 'manufacturing consent'. any truly different idea, that completely overturns what you have come to believe, sounds like nonsense on a chat show (btw, although put forth this way, this doesnt entirely justify every time chomsky has sounded like nonsense to me). because any topic is generally built on a bunch of assumptions that everyone in the discussion agrees on, if you question those assumptions then the whole conversation breaks down, complicates in a way that wont fit between commercial spots, and the one questioning the assumptions generally looks like a freak - like he doesnt play well with others. im thinking of all this because this morning on my way to get a cup of coffee i was listening to the skepticsguide podcast. good episode by the way. interviews with matt stone and christopher hitchens. but they were talking about this article. The short version is parents arent using medicine on their childs brain tumor and instead are putting their faith in a 'psychic healer'. they brought up the fact that there exists, in 41 of the fifty states, laws that make parents exempt from child endangerment prosecution if the treatment of the child is based on religious beliefs. they said that these are laws that need to be looked at and discussed in the public sphere. now, the reason i was prompted to write this was that the next thought that came to me was, 'now is not the time to have this discussion'. this country does not seem capable of a reasonable discussion about any difficult or nuanced topic right now. i think this is beginning to change but the change is happening slowly. we are rolling the big wheel over into a more tolerant time. it is my hope. i cite the recent 'obama-mania' is an example of peoples desire for a return to reasonable dialogue. i think we are tired of cartoon representations of complicated topics and he represents that. it is a long road to the white house but he does seem to be doing well right now as a representation of things reasonably considered. in contrast, i am personally concerned that i have gotten emotionally caught up in my outrage alot lately. it has made me enjoy too much my righteous indignation. when i make simple and broad claims about 'how things really are...' or 'how so-and-so really is...' then i am in dangerous spiritual territory. or put another way, i am becoming less effective. being 'right' feels good. its easy. not being sure but putting forth your best considered solution is much more difficult. uncomfortable. but it is my belief that nothing, nothing is ever black and white. all is a shade of grey. when i begin to look for the nuance is when i begin to approximate the truth.

24 comments:

George D said...

Cool read. I remember reading in the news about a girl who got a blood transfusion but due to her "faith" shes a jehovas witness. and i guess they have a beef with blood transfusions so now her parents are suing, i mean it saved her life why the hell would you sue, religion is good for some people, but not for everyone, im not a member of any religious organization but i due have my faith and i believe the world would be better off with just faith instead of who's god is better. But im gettin a little preachy. I have a question of course. I recently blogged about the music scene today and my lack of interest, i want to hear your opinion on the music of today.

oh and will yur new music be in Canada? i know sometimes stuff doesn't come here.

Anonymous said...

Eric,
This may sound ridiculous but it is, in fact, true. I am cloistered in a recording studio 24/7 for months on end. I don't watch TV and don't read the paper. I have heard of Obama but know almost nothing about him and I desperately want someone better than Bush. In your opinion, what is good about Obama? In your view, what is happening right now in this country that quantifies Obama-mania?
I know there is plenty of info out there on the net. I'm not being lazy, I want to see this through your eyes.

Thanks, Jim

Anonymous said...

1-'MaybeLogic' by Robert Anton Wilson

2-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxNyaY07DMc

Curious what you may think/feel of the above...

Jason

juan from buenos aires said...

great topic. i always said that every once in a while you have to throw away all that you think that you are, and start to ask again. Not only to yourself butt the rest off the world to.
sorry for my english.

Chris (C. Brian) said...

EA,

May have already asked u this . . . have you devoured Shermer's Why People Believe Weird Things? (or some similar title)?

Your post got me thinking, as usual -- thinking about irrationality and illogic.

The refusal of the blood transfusion by a certain religious body is akin to Scientologists' rejection of psychiatric medications for illnesses such as schizophrenia (which, in their eyes, doesn't exist). Allegedly, vitamins and water are the panacea. Noxious teaching in my view.

Then, again, I do not know the history of psychiatry as well as Tom Cruise, M.D.!

To paraphrase Voltaire, "I don't agree, and I defend the right of the believer to hold the belief."

Your post shows a lot of humility. I agree that a civil "marketplace of ideas" a la JS Mill may not be able to take place right now. Let's hope for that impending, benign revolution.

Anonymous said...

Eric,
Your thoughts regarding television as an ineffective vehicle for inclusive discussion are interesting. Any show (whether talk, sitcom or drama) is an extension of its sponsors or advertisements. And, as you note, advertisers want things "to fit." But, quite often, the commercials themselves are the most revealing structures in terms of how and what we think about ourselves, our culture, and our ideologies. Advertising is perhaps the most manipulative form of media and does not care that the public understands this. It, as Niklas Luhmann observes, "plays with an open hand." Commercials, within a very short time frame, offer us reasons (often very inept, silly, and inane) to buy their products. And we do it. The problem perhaps lies in the lack of discussion regarding why we "do it." In other words, we understand advertisers seek to manipulate, but we don't know how they are so successful in determining our actions. Of course the same could be said about shows themselves, except that I don't think we typically consider them manipulative--we don't necessarily understand them as "sellers"; that's what the commercials are for.

Ryan.

cavalfilter said...

interesting topic. i also like what juan from buenos aires said - succinct.

yes, who could imagine a more polarizing and less reflective leader, and one less interested in dialogue than our current president? it would be nice if obama, or clinton ('let the conversation begin'), or any of the other candidates who is elected president sets an example for more reasonable discussion.

like you say, reflexively making an assertion is easier that thinking out a position and maybe being wrong. but it is an easy habit to slip into, it seems, the older we get, maybe because of one's increasing responsibilty? or maybe because of the awareness of the randomness of things and how much we don't know? or maybe we simply get tired? what's weird is, if you just put in that extra effort to think through something, or accomplish something, you feel that much more satisfied afterward. but the inertia is too much to overcome much of the time ....

on a lighter note, thanks for the music tips fom a couple of posts ago. is it sad that i haven't even heard of 'quirk'? maybe i have heard some but didn't know that is what it is called. i am hoping.

i am just finishing a book by david sedaris entitled 'naked'. maybe you have read it? i think you might like it.

stan

matt volpe said...

Eric,

I wholeheartedly agree that nothing in life is black and white. I am also half ashamed to say that I make my living working in TV, as a promo writer producer for the Sci Fi Channel. I pretty much abhor most of TV and the media. It's an ironic work life I have. I'd personally rather make a living playing bass for the rest of my life. Too many people are too influenced by all the crap that's on TV and I think it makes for a shallow society and only fuels people to be more melodramatic and even insecure. I guess that's a bit harsh... it really depends on how secure and grounded the person is who is watching TV that determines whether or not they will be affected in a negative way like that. Now that I think about it, what I'm writing here doesn't have much to do with your post. I'm getting a little soap boxy, sorry about that! I just wanted to say hi ultimately! Quick question unrelated: Do you prefer playing chords on the bass as opposed to just notes? I'm trying to expand my knowledge and learn more about chords on the 4 string and was just curious as to if you have a preference. I believe you have and still do lot of octaves and chordal stylings in your lines, which I also believe is part of the reason your lines are so memorable and beautiful. Talk soon amigo, Matt

-ea. said...

george d- the music scene today. hmm. that is one long post. i will blog about it, as you asked for, but that is a topic that will definitely require some focused thought, the perfect amount of caffeine, and a visit from the muse.

yes my music should be available in canada. an announcement about all that has been going on in terms of the solo cd will be forthcoming shortly.

-ea. said...

jim- barack obama is a really cool theoretical candidate for prez. i say theoretical because he has not yet had to really dirty his hands in the dirty business of a presidential campaign. that said, he is a smart reasonable and seemingly wise man with some public charisma. so the 'obama-mania' part is that people are responding to him, loudly and happily, because of all those attributes while he remains young and green enough not to have any real political record; either good or bad. that is the short answer as i see it. good luck in the studio. i hope you happen upon some great ideas.

-ea. said...

jason- 1 wilson seems like a real character (which i always appreciate). i loved his website.

2- good of the military to have given us this 'practitioner' of remote sensing. i would imagine if there were anything to this, the military would still be doing it. to the best of my knowledge they aint. a good source for info about this sort of stuff is the james randi foundation. he is an old magician who is now dedicated to debunking all the folk who fool people into lots of things. http://www.randi.org/

i grew up loving a show in the seventies called 'in search of...'. it filled my young world with really fantastic things. none of which were true, of course. but it left me with a real love for all this kind of stuff.

-ea. said...

juan- yes. i couldnt agree more. in addition, i think you need to also throw away all the things other people think you are as well. my life would be so much less full if i only tried things that were things that 'someone like me would do'.

wife is calling. im off to get some lunch.

-ea. said...

chris c. brian- yes i think you did mention shermers book. ive looked into it. it is on my eventual book list. ive fount though that i am mostly superficially interested in all the skepticism stuff. i like my podcast and the occasional website visit but that is about as deep as i need to go. at least for now.

funny. i too have been paraphrasing the same voltaire quote for many years. now that you mention it, thats probably long enough to warrant getting the actual quote.

-ea. said...

ryan - so true. i am never more horrified by what my tv is telling me than when i see the ads while im watching hockey or boxing. 'dont you just hate your wife. me too. buy bud light.' its so fucked. i often tell my wife that i feel like the tv is shrieking at me again. i try never to watch it in real time because of all that. i will use a tivo pause button as i try to tip toe around all that shit.

-ea. said...

stan- yes. pushing through the inertia. that is the very definition of the struggle as i get older in many regards. in this particular case, if i push through the inertia then i get to a better understanding of people. at least it seems i do. the less time i spend calling people names and the time i spend trying to understand why they feel the way they do the better i am in many ways. i am really so much more enriched by understanding people i disagree with than i am by listening to those who reflect what i already think. this administration has been killing this spirit in me. its a real struggle.

oh, and dont worry, quirk was just a turn of phrase. its not a genre you dont know. i see how you could think that. its just a word ive often heard to describe the things in this world that i respond to. hope to see you next month.

-ea. said...

matt- i wouldnt feel bad about working in tv. it is an interesting medium and i dont personally believe it is inherently evil. i was speaking specifically to the idea that its no place for a deep experience of radical ideas.

bass chords. yes. i love them. although i think you have to be careful with them because they really change the musical landscape of a song. if i am building a song from the bass up then i tend to do more chords. but when i am playing bass to a guitar/drum/sample idea, or on other peoples music, i find them harder to fit in wihtout it being too obtrusive- making the low end seem sort of misshapen.

matt volpe said...

Eric,

Thanks! I see what you mean, and I agree very much that TV is more entertainment than a source for a deep experience. There are exceptions of course, or with learning shows or great docu's that may air on the history channel or HBO, i.e. Regarding commercials though, it's funny because a lot of TV commercial networks (including the one I work at) are at the cusp of a huge battle with TIVO and DVR's. Reason being that by people using DVR's they usually always end up skipping through the commercials and ad's to get to the next segment of the show they are watching. This in turn hurts the advertisers because their products are not being watched. Then advertisers pull out and don't want to buy air time on a TV network that is heavily DVR'd. This hurts the network. Also, DVR's don't encourage live viewing, which then effects ratings. People figure they'll watch something when they want to watch it. I personally agree with the idealogy of DVR or TIVO. I feel my network and every network that has a problem, should learn to embrace this new wave of TV viewing, and somehow find a way to co-exist. Over half the commercials on TV are crap and non important to people's lives I feel (except my JAWS promo, hee hee. There's no way a TV Network is going to stop anyone from using a TIVO, plain and simple, in my opinion. You mentioned in your response to Ryan that you use TIVO. That's what sparked me to blab about the above. Sorry to go on and on...

Good point about chordal playing...I guess used in the right situation it proves more beneficial. I personally love droning, that I do all over the place when I'm writing something of my own. Thanks again and talk soon, Matt

Anonymous said...

Eric- Thanks for the concern...I can't get help for this addiction, as I have no idea where to begin..I detoxed for 2 days, then I needed the percocets just to function normally again.It is very hard, the current friends I have have not travelled down this dark road before(at least to my knowledge) and the ones that have I have no idea how to contact for advice...Helplines piss me off, as other end of phone usually is somebody who has not been there before and is looking to get off of work quickly...Any help for me since you have been there before would be appreciated...devastru@aol.com

thanks...By the way, This PBR stuff is incredible, I am on week #2 of heavy listening...

S

keith said...

It's funny you blog about this. A guy came into my store the other day and had a rant about how TV will never beret women the way it does men. He is going through a divorce and got slightly short-sided.

Going back to the bass chords in the earlier reply:

In "LA Song" in the intro, are you arrpegiating chords there or is that guitar? Also, on the songs that are on acoustic on that album, did you or Dave play those?

And, if it's not to much, how often do you compose or right a song up on the bass and hwo do you go about that - sketchs, jams, etc...

thanks
keith

ellis said...

In the way that things are in the US now, it's hard not to get involved in politics/social-issues emotionally. I wouldn't consider that a bad thing though. That's how we are in America. And yes, things will outrage you... especially when your opinions seem ignored by the "majority". You simply have to persevere and know that your ideas will grow with others who have similar ideas. I see Obama having an impact at the moment. BUT... he needs a quality debate with a representative of "old ideas" and Obama must show himself as the stronger person. Only then will he truely be the 'next coming of Christ' like so many media outlets have been treating him.

It's funny to me... Obama today reminds me of how they fed us McCain in 1999; A ray of sun among thunder clouds. And where is he now...?

kindness = wealth said...

Not long ago mom and I were discussing how people mimic TV.

I said, “Ma, it is not just the content we are mimicking. We are also copying the way we speak to one another. Setting up one liners, influencing humor style, sarcasm, setting moral standards, establishing idioms, all that stuff.”

“Oh Michael. That’s crazy. We do not.”

“Not absolutely, though we do. People often function at sort of a sitcom pace with sitcom-like interactions.”

Mother doesn’t buy it. “Michael Lee, that is just not true. When I was growing up all I ever watched was I Love Lucy and…(Mom stops cold) Oh my god! Michael I think you’re right!”

BTW:
A high five goes out to Eric for the following bit of writing.

“in contrast, i am personally concerned that i have gotten emotionally caught up in my outrage alot lately. it has made me enjoy too much my righteous indignation. when i make simple and broad claims about 'how things really are...' or 'how so-and-so really is...' then i am in dangerous spiritual territory. or put another way, i am becoming less effective. being 'right' feels good. its easy. not being sure but putting forth your best considered solution is much more difficult. uncomfortable. but it is my belief that nothing, nothing is ever black and white. all is a shade of grey. when i begin to look for the nuance is when i begin to approximate the truth.”

Well said Eric. In future posts, I would be interested to learn more about your reading and writing habits. Especially your relationship with reading. Are you into reading strategies? Do you keep track of the books you’ve read? What genre of books and authors seem to be the most visisted?

Any plans on writing a book? You defintely have the courage, depth of character and sense of humanity to write great works. It is apparent in your posts.

It would be nice to hear about and/or discuss books that you are currently reading. Maybe you can pick a book you would like to discuss with your blog guests. Set a date to discuss the book so that we can read it as well. Another way to interact out here in the blogosphere.

With respect and kindness,
Mike

Ryan Parr said...

Hey E-
THANKS--
The pho cafe was a great call, lights are a bit bright but the food was speaking my language, now its back to cold NY.
cheerio-
ryan

Anonymous said...

Eric,
Thanks for the response.
I cetainly understand the kind of disgust that commercials(especially ones that blatantly target) can evoke. I wonder, though, if in simply turning away we sometimes give way to the elusiveness of TV's remarkable appeal. Media are all-encompasing sounds and images that are part of our lives through most of our lives. Even in choosing to tune out we are actively involved with the presence of media--we expect with no surprise that at the touch of a button the media will return its stream of images. Thus, we are bathed in media regardless of what we like or dislike about it. I think all media (TV, print, billboard ads, radio, etc.) speak to us simply because they offer the experience of, as Todd Gitlin notes, "being with the media." There are experiences we undergo in living out our lives with media and I think it is within this realm that our attraction/obsession dwells. Thus, I would offer that media always offer room for rather deep discussion, no matter the medium; even the 1 hour TV talk show that really says "nothing" is saying quite a lot.

--Ryan.

Anonymous said...

where is Yasmin Spira anyway? -

nice work - you have something to say, or at least your willing to speak your mind -

and yes it's ridiculous - period, but please refrain from the critique of commercial television -

we're all guilty of the desensatization brought about by the generic mcmansionization of our alpha and theta waves, to tune in? to tune out? or to tune off?

best to get back to lion mountain.