“Our New Technological Serfdom” – The End of Enlightenment

Posted: January 13, 2019 in Uncategorized

This was just shared by a philosopher in exile with whom I happened to be acquainted.

It is never easy to change one’s beliefs by an exercise of will alone. … I admit I am having trouble at present differentiating between the perennial fogeyism that could always be expected of people who make it to my age (I’m 46), and the identification of a true revolutionary shift in human history.

It has come to seem to me recently that this present moment must be to language something like what the Industrial Revolution was to textiles. A writer who works on the old system of production can spend days crafting a sentence, putting what feels like a worthy idea into language, only to find, once finished, that the internet has already produced countless sentences that are more or less just like it, even if these lack the same artisanal origin story that we imagine gives writing its soul. There is, it seems to me, no more place for writers and thinkers in our future than, since the nineteenth century, there has been for weavers.

This predicament is not confined to politics, and in fact engulfs all domains of human social existence. But it perhaps crystallizes most refractively in the case of politics, so we may as well start there.

  1. Parker Law says:

    I really liked the part where he talked about professional athletes and how their post-game interviews are, for the most part, extremely bland and predictable. I watch a lot of sports, and I can say that that is definitely true. They are expected to always say that they want to win, they did their best, and the outcome of the game cannot be traced back to a single mistake or great moment, but rather an entire game of good or bad play. While this is partially true, it makes interviews boring because you rarely get to hear what the coaches or players really think about the officiating, turning point, or outcome of the game. The players especially are expected to act very mechanically. They are often called “machines” if they are very athletically gifted, which fits perfectly with how they are supposed to act. I wish there were less “one word answer” interviews like Gregg Popovich tends to give, and more that end up like Allen Iverson’s famous “practice” interview where he tells a reporter his real thoughts on his absence from one of the team’s practice sessions.

    • Parker, I can’t find you on the roll. Are you still with us? Apparently.

      As for the article, I’m not much of a sports fan. But I listen to a lot of music and look at a lot of art. While I am deeply fascinated by both, I must admit that few things bore me as much as hearing musicians and artists discuss their work. This is perhaps a fixable problem, but perhaps not. If nothing else, it’s one we’ll address at some length this semester. While we may have to let athletes, musicians, and artists off the hook, I’m not inclined to let students off to hook. It’s the job of these other persons to make or do. Meanwhile, it is the job of students to comment. This does not negate that students should do as well. However, when one makes the choice to become a scholar, one takes up the responsibility of forming intelligent opinions and articulating them well. I hope to help students develop the courage and skill to do that throughout the semester.

    • OK. I just found you. Not sure why I missed you earlier. Welcome back(?).

  2. Jeffrey Soper says:

    Reading these replies, I don’t want to say Parker is wrong, but I don’t agree with him either. Recently players have been speaking up about issues within the leagues and are willing to be fined to speak there mines. Sports leagues at the end of the day are businesses and all the athletes are employed by their respective business. This allows leagues to fine their players, but it doesn’t let them control them. I watch NBA more than the other sports by a long shot and players speak out on issues that are more than just winning and losing. Russell Westbrook recently spoke out in a post game interview on crowds being racist against him and other players. Blake Griffin had an interview talking about how he felt about the Clipper organization after being traded by the team. There’s so much that happens behind the scenes we don’t know and never will know. Every athlete who has made it to the pros has a competitive “I want to win” drive and that comes out a lot. That’s expected to some degree as well, it’s their jobs to compete to win. However, there is more that goes on than just winning is good losing is bad. I think the most fascinating player/coach interviews are the ones that go over a teams game plan or when players show off their IQ for the game by being able to recount entire sections of the game by memory. Sean McVay of the Rams was able to recount the entire defense of an opposing team he played over ten years ago, and was able to name all 11 starters for the Bear’s defense memory and how many years they’ve been in the league as well as their strengths and weaknesses. To be able to compete at such a high level you have to know the game inside and out and when players get the chance to talk about this it shows a whole new side of the player. I think post game interviews allow players to be more than athletes and speak about their games , and sometimes about things in the world such as injustice and politics. Anyways, that was a whole lot of words just to say athletes are more than “shut up and dribble” people. They have thoughts just as important as anyone else and post game interviews allow them to speak out their thoughts.

    • I’ll hang back on this issue, because I have, other than my love of Serena Williams, less interest in sport than almost any person I know. But you guys should free free to debate these matters here. Just keep it civil and constructive. Thanks!

  3. Parker Law says:

    I agree that players have begun to speak out about issues like discrimination, and the NBA is generally the most vocal, but there is still a lot the players are unable to say regarding the actual gameplay. Just as an example, if James Harden had not made that crazy overtime 3-pointer the other night to beat the Warriors and the Rockets had lost, they could have gone back and blamed the loss on Kevin Durant’s “save” that led to Curry’s 3-pointer, but Durant was at least 3 steps out of bounds when he saved it and the refs didn’t call it. If anyone on the Rockets had spoken out against that or any other officiating miscues in their post game interviews, they would have probably gotten fined even though it was an egregious missed call. I got to sit courtside for a Jazz-Celtics game last season and what the Celtics players said on the bench and in the huddle about the refs and other players was much more critical and intense than what they said in their generic interviews. I definitely don’t think that the players should have to refrain so much from speaking out about in-game issues because criticism like that can be productive, but the league is too eager to issue fines (lance stephenson’s Air guitar and JR Smith’s Supreme tattoo were particularly unnecessary) and it limits players on what they can say to the media. I do appreciate their relaxation on other topics such as politics. I just wish they were able to talk about the games without being so censored is all.

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