Wherever you go, you find information. Of course, I do recognize that we are, after all, living in the ‘information age’, but I still can’t help but wonder where all this ‘information’ came from? Who discovered it? How did it begin to spread? Who continues to disseminate it and for what reason? I mean, today we are obviously all full it, so I think these are important considerations.
At some point in history, someone must have come along and said, “Hey there! You! Yes, you! I have some information for you.” Perhaps it was God or a visiting extraterrestrial tourist. Perhaps it was a squirrel. I have no clue. And that my friends is the point of today’s post: I have no clue. Yet, there is one thing I know for certain: there is simply too much information out there!
It’s all too easy to be a man or woman of conviction; all that is required is ignorance or education. Experts, texperts, academics and ‘Teds’ all claim to ‘know a thing or two’ about ‘this or that and everything in between’. They have no problem at all expounding on their authority in all matters. Why, even the authorities have something to say, albeit in a very authoritarian manner.
What got me pondering the nature of all this information was a print advertisement that caught my eye. The title boomed “Important Information!” and then what followed was a lot of fine print. Of course, the main body of the ad wasn’t ‘important’ at all, or even relevant to me. Nevertheless, the bold claim itself was rattling enough for me to stop and take note. I kicked myself on the way home for being so gullible.
It occurs to me that as a society, we have become like pigeons in a park. All activity ceases the moment a few crumbs of bread are thrown to the ground. We frantically flock to the source en masse, paying no mind to whom it was that actually threw these tiny morsels, or even they’re very nature. Observe how before trampling over each other, pigeons rarely question whether what was thrown, be they crumbs or possibly cigarette butts. In fact, they never even pause to consider if the thrower might harbor a hidden agenda or be up to no good.
At least once a week, I hear myself telling others to ‘consider the source’ or to remember that ‘editorials are not news’. Very often, my objections are dismissed as cynicism. In fact, though I may not even suggest one, I often hear “Oh, that’s just you opinion!”, especially when my concerns counters the speaker’s self-interest.
With this in mind, I find it hard to accept that our society comes downs to the ideas “do what’s best for you” and “accept everything you are told”. Entire political parties use this logic as their platform! Ironically, fascists rarely bother with the details of our existence. In other words, politically and personally speaking, they don’t give two shits about us and our needs.
Witness the government shut down in the USA. What’s pathetic is not so much the smug self-serving attitudes of all the ‘powers that be’ involved, but the fact that they are arguing over who is to blame. No one really wants to fix the problem, because doing so would mean conceding one’s pride … and risking having green eggs and ham on one’s face. So instead, the American public is faced with an information war, as the wheels of some government agencies grind to a halt.
The toll of this American tragedy certainly takes a human toll, and not just that you can’t receive satellite tweets from NASA or that national parks are closed; real workers are being furloughed and going unpaid for an uncertain period of time. Meanwhile, the politicians, especially one side of congress, just don’t care. (Cue sound effect: an elephant snorts in the distance)
A salient feature of dadaism was that it questioned the authenticity of the ‘art’ of the day, as well as the underlying socially mutant ‘logic of the times’. Doing so was a blatant sign of championing non-conformity in a social climate where conformity was all the rage. Today, there is still a great lesson to be learned from the dadaists, other than the obvious giving of the finger to the establishment: never be afraid to question authority. In fact, I would also say, never be afraid to question any information that is disseminated in the mainstream media.
The amount of ‘spin’ that is interwoven into the fabric of our society is mind-boggling. What’s even more outrageous is the large percentage of lackeys who are so willing to lap it up in order to justify their own lack of identity and self-worth. I’m not surprised, however, since such ‘zombified sheeple’ were conditioned to do just that. It’s fear you see which paralyzes and hypnotizes.
Evidence? Note that ‘caution’ and ‘warning’ signs are everywhere. Note that we are fed a steady diet of messages to consume all manners of products, goods and thought patterns … and that if we don’t comply we are threatened that we will become less than socially relevant. These messages’ prevalence in our lives is enough to drive a carefree soul paranoid.
For the newly turned paranoid, the fear-mongers also offer refuge in their ideological prisons. Admission costs only ones ability to think freely and for oneself. Never has peace of mind come so easily for the feeble-minded! All the information you need to turn your mind to mush is right there and ripe for the picking at your convenience thanks to mass media marketing. Tune into the right (and approved) frequency and you’ll never have to think for yourself again!
Yes, it’s true that opinions are like assholes; everyone has got one … and while some might be sexier than others, all assholes are created equal.
Relatedly, perhaps information, like opinions and assholes, should not be suppressed. Instead, it is our reactions to them that might require reconsideration. We need to learn or either tune out or qualify the information we receive and start thinking for ourselves. We need to stop accepting the status quo as the gold-standard of existence. We need to send a clear message to the power and fear mongers that our minds are more useful than toilet paper.
Moreover, it goes without saying that in truly open and free societies, in which our personal and ideological differences are embraced, anyone with an opinion should enjoy not only the confidence to express it, but also the thick skin to withstand verbal assault when it obvious that he or she is full of shit; a determination that only comes if we use our brains for something more than an exercise in ‘follow the leader’.
The ‘Occupy’ movement has always served as a good analogy for more than just a necessary attack on Wall Street culture. It’s a reminder to us to wake up and take control of our lives and to challenge the authority of the overlords of our sensibilities and culture who use ‘information overload’ to drown out our own thoughts.
Creating a counter-culture through peaceful means requires contentious objectors, like the dadaists or even the hippies, to stand up and mock the establishment, and even themselves, for a higher purpose … or as artist Hans Arp put it, “to destroy the hoaxes of reason and to discover an unreasoned order.”
On the mission of dadaists, Tristan Tzara suggested “Let everyone proclaim that we have a great work of destruction and negativity to accomplish. Sweep and clean. The cleansing of the fellow will take place after a period of total madness and aggression, the mark of a world left for too long in the hands of bandits who are tearing apart and destroying the centuries”.
Some might call this idiocy, while others will claim it to be freedom. Obviously, only free thinking libertines will know for sure. Not sure where you stand? Occupy your mind and find out for yourself.
The Fine Print: This was my 100th blog post on The Wooly Yarn. Celebrate accordingly.
‘Why Not’ Reading Links
- DADA Companion
- Dada – A hundred years of Counter Culture
- Politicians Are Not Dadaists (they just act like they are)
“Manifest Destiny” by Moraine – Help support independent artists!