Brave New World

Entertainment to mediocrity

Finally I could have a break from the hectic schedule at the beginning of 2012.

This afternoon I was on the train back home from work. I usually read with my Kindle the whole time on the train. But today I was a bit exhausted of focusing on every word in the line of Schopenhauer all the time since sometimes it could be quite distracting on the train with the noise from other people and the train itself. So I stopped reading and started to lose myself in the universe of musing. As I unconsciously gazed around, I quickly discovered something way more interesting and started to observe people’s behavior in the train. It was a one-hour-trip, and guess what most of people were doing nowadays in the train?

8 out of 10 people (of all ages) were busy bowing down to the extreme and staring at their tiny little phones as if that 3~4 inch screen of magic gadget has inexplicable magnetic field to drag their eyes closer, closer, and closer…

In fact, I recall when I was having lunch today with my colleagues they were exactly doing the same thing, leaving me alone eating my sandwich “ordinarily and in a fully committed manner”.

Whatever they stared at, it is absolutely irrelevant, forgettable, and worthless.

I am not here lamenting about the increasing distance among people nowadays and ranting on the abuse of virtual device for it. That’s just cliche. What I really thought sad was the fact that people nowadays were wholeheartedly swamped by the wasteful and absolutely unnecessary entertaining information all their spare time (esp the younger generation).

It’s simply amazing to see how fast the entertaining business self-magnifies in our civilization in the past few decades:

20 years ago the presence of TV, which was already considered the then greatest threat to the intellectual enlightenment of the society, only “compelled” people with enormous retarded pictorial information when they were at home. I suppose most people could still have their own time while away from home. 10 years ago there was the massive proliferation of internet, which overtook TV as the major source of entertainment in a blitz manner. The amount of wasteful and irrelevant tabloid gossips simply jumped more than tenfold of that from the TV. I guess humans must have sickly obsession for the garbage information intake. Since the era of internet more and more people have spent more and more time in front of their computers, even at work (everyday works with computers nowadays and everyone checks random stuff that you would forget one second after at work on the internet for nothing other than meaningless entertainment/time-killing?).

Nowadays, as the zeitgeist represents: the plague of smart phones all over the world (even in places like Africa). The ultimate objective of the entertaining business has finally achieved (next step is… the dream?). People are finally overwhelmed with unnecessary overloading information with their entertaining gadgets ALL THE TIME.  (The screen, however, does get smaller and smaller…)

Of course I believe everyone’s excuse for having a smart phone (excluding those hipsters!) is to use it as a productivity boost for our everyday life. I, myself, have a smart phone as well for this purpose. But how many really makes their life more productive with such device? And how many hours have you killed straight with your smart phone at the same time?

I really have to give credits to the development of the entertaining business. It abuses our vulnerable psychological flaws to the fullest. The entertaining technology, as I categorize it (TV, video game, internet, smartphone etc.), most of the time just serve the purpose to trap us with higher and higher level of addiction to the business itself without realizing it. This entangles us mortals forever in the wonderland of mediocrity. With dull, repetitious, and mechanic office work that most people spend most of their day time, we are already being retarded in our intelligent potentials. And this is not enough. With the ultimate entertaining technologies we are even stripped off the very last remaining moment of being ourselves. When could we ever have the time to rejoice the enrichment of solitude, reading, or even contemplation? Alas, but what we have been stripped off from this hypnosis are exactly what has prompted the advancement of our civilization all along.

People already lost the prudence for rational reasoning, logic. It is already getting increasingly difficult to educate the public of something that is a little bit beyond the immediate appearance of the objects. Social Media, Art, Music, Literature, Religion, and especially Politics, are appealing for those who knows the tricks of charlatans: psychology and signaling. Quoted from Schopenhauer, who still claimed at that time humans would respond to motives rather than causes (inorganic) and stimuli (plant and animal), the difference being humans use reasoning to use “will” to respond beyond the immediate intuitive response to the physical cognition (emotions being a high level of stimuli in such taxonomy). I dare to paraphrase this assertion to be more applicable for the brave new world: people are repressed with their reasoning capabilities submerging in the ocean of information solely for the purpose of entertainment. Hence human “will” merely degrades itself into a superficial reflection of immediate intuitive (like the interface nowadays: intuitive) and emotional response of the surface of the consequence, for we barely have the precious time and virtue for intellectual cognition now.

In this endless ouroboros, we do not grow wiser nor our civilization advances much further other than in the entertaining business. Immediately it reminds me of Neil Postman and his famous claim: “Amusing Ourselves to Death“…

Most people just never get it.

Emotionalism > Rationalism

In my previous post about the information wasteland, I have made it clear that signalling is the most important character that attracts people’s attention. The medium of current information technology, which is the fragmented information overload itself, craves for drama and people who create drama. No gimmick, no fame. I for one have always followed this rule in my 6 years membership of the Toastmasters International, a public club that aims to improve participants’ public speaking and presentation skills. During my time with the Toastmasters International, one thing I would always do is to speak in a dramatic tone with wide range of body language and eye contacts. Over the time I have found out that no matter how irrelevant and non-sense my speech was about, people would always pay attention to me and recognize my performance even months after. They most likely couldn’t recall what I was talking about, but always remember some catchphrases I blurred and those laughs I brought to them with my sense of humor (dramatic performance). So in the end of the day, I easily got famous and favored by the crowd. Whenever I stand in front of the stage, people would pay extra attention to me with the expression to get ready for some nice entertainment once more.

Those gimmicks, as far as I can see, are not some novel invention of mine. It existed since the mankind learned how to communicate with each other even way before the maturity of our linguistic skills. It is natural that people dig the emotional signals and resonates with them. I am not saying it is a bad thing. We are driven to a decision by our emotions subconsciously, and that is a fact. Nonetheless, we have another intrinsic character that could help us for the decision-making independent of emotions: the ability to reason. Rationality is a discernible trait especially among high intelligent people, who are the real driving force for technological breakthrough and the societal governance. The widespread of printing press in the medieval era injected a strong boost for the growth of rational thinking among the populace all through Europe, with the help of books, a perfect medium detached with all forms of emotion in favor of emotionless logic thinking. That was truly an era of enlightenment. Both life science and social science experienced a rapid leap forward: universal education, modern democracy, industrial revolution, modern economics etc. Rational thinking for the first time supplanted emotions as the cornerstone of our decision-making principles.

When Neil Postman was talking about such things in his enlightening book “Amusing ourselves to death”, he overlooked one critical point, a point that could well explain the “proliferation of the show business via new information technology”. That is: we naturally prefer visual representation, emotional signalling over detached rational thinking and objective contextualization. Plenty of theories why we behave in this way (I have written an article to explain our visual representation), which I won’t probe further here. The point is the blossom of printing press era was the only meteor-alike exception in the long path of our human civilization history. It is not natural for most people to stick to some static objective paragraphs as our ultimate guidance. Once the technology advanced to a stage where we could develop a better information medium, we would just simply dash to that one almost instantaneously. Over 500 years of printing press dominance and its glory were easily overwritten by the introduction of mass media in less than 100 years.

Thanks to television, personal computer, internet, google, youtube, we have quickly reverted back to the most primitive stage of philosophy: emotionalism. Beg to differ? Turn on your television and see one image that isn’t intended to hypnotize you with emotional resonance: news coverage, advertising, TV opera etc. Even the most sacred and serious domain of human civilization, politics and religion, are no longer sacred and serious. “Democracy” is merely a fig leaf for the popularity contest based on emotional barometer – polls (Some are “bad” because they are “bad”, others “good” because they are “good”). Everyone is all of sudden a specialized theologist that see religion either as a superstitious gimmick or the supernatural power (Even the Islamic theology is a joke nowadays thanks to the rise of Jihad martyrs). Thanks to the dominance of some smart minority in this show business, minority in all social domains are now portrayed as simply the victims of the majority, regardless of what happens. Hence, minorities are always right and should be protected and worshiped as the blessed ones (we are not). This perfectly fits our emotional demand. Whenever a man defies a massive order. The first reaction from the public is always sympathy, followed by consequential supports. It doesn’t matter what and why the man was doing it. The theory part, the pseudo-rational thinking part, is largely marginalized and simplified with a few lines of a so-called expert on the TV or a pissed-off protester showing off his V-for-victory sign. We’d amplify the emotion and strongly abide the hunch, thanks to the information era. There are countless examples here, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, JFK, Che Guevara, Greenpeace, Arab Spring etc. … This is also the case of Ai Weiwei, an edgy post-modern artist in our home country that deems “politically active and heretic”. When people flock to pity him with great compassion against the old-evil CCP, few could calm their over-heated brain and contemplate: “what on earth is this fella doing for?” To me he tries to act like a hero but without any solid ideas or concrete dogmas. His “arts” are vulgar and explicit, and his “politic views” are immature and ambiguous.

Back to where I started in this article, the wisdom of intelligence has been downplayed in favor of emotional heroism today. All abstract thoughts are pushed back in the bottom of the library, a place that people barely visit. All leftism, rightism, communism, and even environmentalism, are merely a form of simple pictorial representation of different emotions nowadays, at least in the mainstream. True intelligentsia, the last remaining fraction of the printing press era (leftovers), are all labelled “reactionary” and squeezed in the margin of the society where nobody really cares. As long as the modern mass media sticks to the concept of the show business, there will never be a sober day for all of us. It’s not that we got retarded (we probably are thanks to the infusion of dumb people in the social welfare era), it is just we got hypnotized in this Brave New World – the prophesy of Huxley.

More poor and stupid

Yes, that’s right. I am sure you have read the news: the world population is going to reach 7 billion this month.

 

A round of applause everyone! Our messed up mortal realm just couldn’t keep getting any worse than continuously absorbing more in-bred, low IQ, and mostly impoverished  babies in an accelerating manner. Why do I say so? Because most of the new babies are born in places where those three criteria greatly intertwine with each other? Without the generous humanitarianism from the western leftists, the populations in those regions would never break the Malthusian line. I, for one always think every people and every country deserve the things that they belong to. For example, the consequence of giving endless oil money to the Arabs was one of those major blames for the nuclear explosion-alike population burst in the Middle East. Look at what a skyrocketing population full of excessive babies have done to that region at the moment.

In most of the regions which result in the rapid world population growth, the local society simply could not handle the unprecedented population explosion. The polity, the social structure, the mind-set, even the IQ are not even remotely ready for such drastic change yet. With the western intervention, mother nature is no longer a determinant in restraining these local populations. Two things will and are already happening: 1. even larger waves of illegal immigration from the third world to the West, and 2. more social chaos that would not only severely affect those third world societies but also ones in the West. Remember the change of French history textbook?

Rational leftists might blame me for being ignoring the importance of those young population in world’s economy (endless cheap labor) and even offsetting the ageing issues of developed countries. Here is what I would say: remember 200 years ago when we started to use machines instead of intensive labors in the factory? Cheap labor would only function this far. Besides, we will never run out of cheap labor. The point is they would be even less cheap labor jobs for those newly born ones in the slums and townships in the future. I wouldn’t call that a benefit at all. Absorbing those young population in the developed countries? That’s a total fallacy. Not to even mention the level of adverse cultural and social impact of their arrival would impose on the local advanced but deteriorating civilizations, I just stress on one point: productivity. The productivity of 100 new-born inbred babies from the slum in the future will not be even nearly as high as one kid with high IQ and born in an well-educated family and well-organized society. Remember why Israel a few days ago wanted to swap 1000 Arab prisoners for just one Jew kid? Simple, one Jewish kid outperforms 1000 Arabs; and that is just one of the million pieces of inconvenient fact hard to sallow for the egalitarians and emotionalists.

Muslims, Blacks, and probably a bit Indians … They will make the biggest part of the new generation, in their own homeland and yours in the future. statistically speaking this is a very disheartening trend. Doubling from the lower and lower birth rate from the smart and well-educated population, there will relatively even more poor and stupid in the future. When we have the whole assembly line controlled by only two Master Degree kids and thousand robotics and computers, we surely need lots of them.

IQ by Country

This reminds me of public’s attitude towards climate change: there’s mitigation measures and adaptation measures. When there’s really no promising adaptation measures, nobody takes a serious look into the mitigation idea. Cold truth as it is, we have to face it some way or another.

O the Brave New World!

O the brave new world!

That was John the Savage’s exclamation when he was about to be brought to London from the Savage Land in Aldous Huxley’s brilliant novel “Brave New World“. A lot of people think Huxley was mocking the industrialization process, especially the introduction of assembly line at the time in his book. Maybe he was. But I could also feel that his obsession with the bizarre biological future-land he created in his novel. I was particularly fascinated with the conversation between the world controller and John the Savage in the end. There’s no absolute right-or-wrong judgement as far as I could see, but more of different options and consequences. To me he was rather struggling in between those human civilization’s classic paradoxes all through his book. This is reflected in his novel at three levels.

The first level is mostly reflected on the description of those personal figures in the book such as Bernard, Professor, Lenina, and John. The clashes among those different personalities with different world views and backgrounds reveal the most obvious, and the most affectionally, contradiction presented in the book. The conflict of rationalism and emotionalism in terms of individual cognition and values is reflected in almost every sentence they said and every word they used in the conversation with each other. What should we use to guide our life, the logic but robotic rationality or the impulsive but flaring emotion?

The second level of contradictory clash takes place on the higher society level, as it is expressed in the the roles of Barnard and Professor in the centrally-planned, well-organized and smoothly-functional collective society that is intolerant of any individualistic emancipation from slogan reciting. But at the same time the novel also admits that personal enlightenment from things other than those hypnosis, though beautiful, is extremely dangerous and damaging to the functionality of the society as a whole. The riot of epsilons and gammas in the hospital, the rampage near the old lighthouse… Is the stability of the social order bigger than the consciousness of the individual being, or is an individual mind deserving or capable of the freedom of will?

The third level sublimates the discussion all the way up to human civilization. The whole idea of the Brave New World, from the beginning to the end, presents a highly developed and static utopia that focuses on the stability and routine over any changes. Social values are extremely steered at the pursuit of happiness, with the deprivation of old moral bondage on human sexuality and the institutionalization of intoxication as a solution to any potential individual discontent. Moreover, the basic traditional social unit, family, and the biological process that naturally create the bond of a family, is overrun by the human decanting process. It is an extreme civilization that goes beyond absolute stasis and successfully attains it while fully satisfying almost everyone in the society with hypnosis, from the highest alphas to the worker bees-alike epsilons (except for a few smart alphas who are too smart to be satisfied, but they are sent to the islands anyway). The ultimate question here is: should we ever pursue such static civilization that prosper for eternity or long for an unpredictable risky expedition that constantly involves imperfection and the pain caused from those imperfections?

John the Savage chose the pain and disdain the Brave New World, for he thought suffering is a inevitable process of life. The world controller bows to the prosperity and stability of the civilization, and chose to govern the Brave New World not with passion but rationality which he deems ruthless but necessary. Imagine a world with absolute social order, everyone is programmed to do his/her position to the fullest and at the same time enjoy with their life to the fullest, with full exploration of sexuality, boundless soma meditation, and the extermination of pain, hatred, and dissatisfaction. Sure there won’t be any Shakespeare to read, but they reach full satisfaction in those hypnotized slogans.

In the beginning of the novel Huxley described how people eventually chose to build the new world: years of global warfare, instability of hypocritical social order, constant dismay of the people from unfulfilled desire… What a great resemblance to the current old world! Except for another global warfare, we pretty much fulfill every other criterion for initiating the Brave New World as described in the book. Modern civilization in the over half a century has been nibbled by the leftism’s dominion and crumbling in front of the ill polity and dysfunctional social dynamic (from Norway shooting spree to London raiding and looting, with more disheartening news to come), not to mention that the global economic system at the verge of debacle… I see too many unfulfillable souls everywhere, too many sadism and masochism, and too many vulnerable lies and despicable excuses. This is a world that embraces emotion over rationality, individualism over collectivism, and constant changes over tradition and stability, marching towards another extreme point. Human culture is indeed in a nutshell. The abuse of slogan “freedom, equity, and rights” has brought mankind nothing but self-destruction in this world. Think of the Brave New World, you wouldn’t feel much different about freedom, equality, and rights. Under the similar hypnosis procedure, people are just programmed to repeat different slogans that sustain their life and strengthen their faith, the only difference being those slogans bringing static stability and eternal happiness and putting the word pain out of the new dictionary instead…

Perhaps in my bone I am an incurable hedonist, but who doesn’t want to be happy? I was destined neither in some isolated jungles that people could be stupid enough to remain their inner peace, nor in the tiny group of fortune who are able to live above the mediocre trap like those big bankers or family with their own coat of arms, not even in a mindset of the average Joe that could have some slavish faith in some miraculous bubbles. This is not my world, nor yours. If I want to choose something to blindly believe in, I’d rather go for the Brave New World.

O the Brace New World! where there is the soma treatment or the solidarity service, where everyone belongs to everyone else. Take this savage also to the brave new world please!

Read the book, and enjoy a slice of mental masturbation.