Friday, December 09, 2011

a spectre haunts the creative imagination part 2

We've talked about Beaudrillard here before, the brittleness of systems.

'Systems are inherently brittle and retain authority only as long as we treat them as having authority', he said. 'But once you lose the fear of systems, or conventions, the status quo, they lose the hold they have over you.'

In other words existing models do not represent reality; they are simply our constructs.

Not surprising when we understand how our unconscious brain observes, soaks up what's going on around and gives cues to the rational brain, fills in the gaps and tells us what we think.

Hence the notion that we don't think, nearly as much as we think, we think.

The vast majority of what we think is thinking, is actually stories made up by the non-conscious part of the mind.

And of course, the stories we believe most are the ones we tell ourselves.

But that's ok. This is where ideas come from. Great ideas.

Someone sent me this article from The New York Times, in which academic Neal Gabler laments the dearth of 'big ideas' in contemporary culture.

He has some points but spoils it with some fairly standard Luddite internet-bashing schlock.

'Social networking sites are the primary form of communication among young people, and they are supplanting print, which is where ideas have typically gestated'.

This is plainly incorrect, as demonstrated one of the most interesting and powerful ideas emerging in recent times being the notion of the Gutenberg Parenthesesis.

In which digital/social/mobile culture - in a way - is a return to an uncontained, non-linearity that was core to human societies in the ages before industrialization, mass production and, in particular, the invention, by Gutenberg, of the printing press.

Gabler's fear is a 'post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them.'

I'm more optimistic than that.

'Marx pointed out the relationship between the means of production and our social and political systems.
Freud taught us to explore our minds as a way of understanding our emotions and behaviors.
Einstein rewrote physics.
More recently, McLuhan theorized about the nature of modern communication and its effect on modern life.
These ideas enabled us to get our minds around our existence and attempt to answer the big, daunting questions of our lives.'

However, I do concurr with the notion that 'there is a vast difference between profit-making inventions and intellectually challenging thoughts'.

As there is a difference between creativity and simply wacky or gimmicky ideas.
The difference is in the value they create rather than the value they extract.

So the social media experts who point at Farmville's multi million turnover as the great success story are missing the point.

On that note, there is clearly something awry with a culture that- in all seriousness- produces things like this without the slightest hint of irony.

For dummies, you say?

'Farmville for Dummies' found via @umairh

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