License they mean when they cry liberty

John Milton, courtesy Wikipedia

John Milton

It’s raining here in Dallas this morning, and pensive is my mood. I’m locked in thoughts ranging from my age to political assassinations to the future that awaits my children. The title of this post is a famous line from the 17th Century John Milton (Paradise Lost) poem, I Did but Prompt. It’s one of the most fascinating, pre-American statements, and it says a lot about human nature. “License they mean when they cry liberty” has been with me for decades, and it never fails to influence my thinking when I hear people spouting about that most important American word “liberty.”

Milton’s poem is about the uselessness of preaching the truth of freedom to a class of people who are, frankly, uninterested, because it will impact their place in life. “…all this waste of wealth,” he writes, “and loss of blood.” He refers to the Biblical wisdom of not “casting your pearls before swine,” an admonishment not to waste your time with people who refuse to listen, people whose own contempt for truth leads them astray.

And yet, as Milton suggests, these people are often loudly proclaiming their belief in liberty, often defending it with war and violence. Milton, however, sees through this and proclaims that what they’re really defending is “license,” a much different concept than that of liberty.

For who loves that (liberty),” he notes, “must first be wise and good.”

I think this is being played out before us today in nearly every corner of our culture. Nobody wants the truth inherent in liberty, because liberty requires responsibility. We want license, the “freedom” to do what we want at all times. Milton wisely notes that there’s a HUGE difference between the two, and I think we need to talk about this.

The First Amendment, for example, is a requisite cornerstone of liberty, because the courage to tell the truth must be protected. However, when it’s used to protect license, it’s polluted and turned on its head, and that’s a problem. I think the Founding Fathers knew that liberty demands sacrifice (Milton’s view), but we don’t hear much about that today. The emphasis on truth is the differentiator, which is why I am obligated to support everything about WikiLeaks and at the same time curse the political discourse of today, like that which played at least some role in the murderous atrocity in Tucson yesterday. The former seeks truth, but the latter seeks self gain.

License they mean when they cry liberty.

Our soul needs our attention

WoodstockI’m awash in emotion this Saturday morning. Weekends allow me the chance to drift, to let my mind wander the paths that it chooses instead of those I force upon it during the week. The Web is a great gift to mind wanderers, because its unstructured paths can (if you’ll let it) produce a sort of mind fuck serendipity that enables this wandering. I’m aware of a deep sense of soul this morning, and I want to write.

I began today with a YouTube video of an old Kurt Vonnegut speech to college graduates in Albion, Michigan. This came via Mediagazer, via kottke.org.

Vonnegut’s statements about how the arts grow your soul is what got me going. His view was that trying to make a living through the arts is the wrong way to view creativity — that it, instead, was the path to growing your soul, something about which he was extremely passionate. I profoundly believe this, and it’s a big part of what shapes my views of copyright and how badly we’ve mucked things up in that arena. The “copyright industry” sticks its bony fingers through the soul of creativity by turning it into a business. Shame on us.

As a writer, I believe that creative endeavors such as the arts should reward those who bring things to life from nothing, but I am strongly opposed to treating copyright as property law. Nobody owns creativity. It all comes from one source, and that belongs to everybody. I’ve written about this many times (here).

The soul. If you believe numerology, mine is an old one. Sometimes I think so; other times, I think it’s a child. I’m not sure when I first became aware of my soul, but I think it happened when I was very young. Soul awareness produces a kind of give-a-shit attitude about the usual trappings of life, and that’s always been my curse. The soul taps into the Lifestream of all things, because, as C.S. Lewis was fond of saying, “humans are like amphibians — living in two worlds at the same time.” The soul is where those two worlds meet and play in a never-ending here and now.

I call these two worlds life (small L) and Life (capital L). The only place they meet is in the here and now, and that reminds me of Blaise Pascal’s wonderful thought from The Penses:

Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future. We scarcely ever think of the present, and when we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future…So we never live, but we hope to live, and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.

Trust me: if you can find the here and now, you’ll never want to leave. Finding it, however, isn’t easy. Regret, shame and resentments bond us to yesterday, while fear and anxiety keep us in tomorrow.

My mind then took me to Woodstock, more specifically Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s song (video below) about the event and the particularly haunting line that “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.”

That is our quest, humankind’s ultimate quest, and it separates those more interested in Life than life. The baby boom generation seemed to grasp the capital L, which was a major threat to those who made a good living with small L life. I mean, who needs to get back to the garden, when this life produces a gardenesque living anyway?

But it’s an illusion. Small L life isn’t “real,” or perhaps I should say it doesn’t matter. What is the end of small L life anyway? As Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang, “Mother Earth will swallow you.” If you believe small L is all there is, then I feel sorry for you. On this issue, I side, again, with Blaise Pascal.

Ah, the soul? Nobody knows for sure, but I think the soul lives on somehow, some way, and perhaps that’s why Vonnegut’s words are so meaningful this morning. He advised everyone in that audience to go out, write a poem, show it to no one, and then tear it into pieces and scatter it. That simple act, he noted, would grow your soul, and, oh my, what that would do.

I think nations have souls in a way, too, and that ours is currently very sick. We’ve spent far too much energy at the feeding trough of mammon and not nearly enough time of late growing that soul. As Dylan wrote, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody,” and a day of reckoning awaits all of us. You want to know the solution for everything that ails America? Our soul is sick and needs attention. We need to create again and again and again.

So thanks for coming along on my journey this morning. Do yourself a favor and create something today. Perhaps if we all do that together, we’ll somehow find our way back to the garden.

And that would be pretty cool.

Knowledge in your hand

The Ugly DucklingAs is her nightly ritual, Karen was deep into a puzzle magazine as we sat in bed last night watching TV. “Who wrote ‘The Ugly Duckling?’” she asked. The answer eluded me, so I grabbed my smartphone from the nightstand, punched in “the ugly duckling” in Google, and the search result gave me “Hans Christian Andersen.” This took all of three minutes.

Not being the kind to ever take things for granted, I commented about the marvel that is technology. Knowledge at our fingertips is something the current generation will take for granted. It is the “Second Gutenberg Moment” of which I write. When Gutenberg had the audacity to print a Bible as his first book, it gutted the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and, combined with Wycliffe’s common language translation, scattered formerly protected knowledge across the land. The current Gutenberg moment is doing the same thing.

The knowledge of the world is already in the palm of your hand, and it will only get easier to access. The question is what will we do with it?

It’s thoughts like these that lead me to shudder at attempts to halt this in the name of selfish profit. We MUST keep the Net open for everybody. We MUST protect the horizontal connectivity that we’re enjoying today. We MUST advance a new economy based on that which is new, not that which is old, regardless of who or what it hurts, myself included.

We are in the most remarkable of times in human history, a time of incredible potential for humanity. Only we humans could muck it up, and I pray that we just leave it alone.

The culture war heats up

history is filled with culture warsWhen I first began writing this blog, I had just come out of a serious period of studying people and culture. I’m not sure if I have “eyes to see” or whether I’m nutty as a fruitcake, but the rising postmodern, post-colonial, post-Christian culture is very clear to me. This blog is called “The Pomo Blog” for a reason, and while some observers mistakenly think I’m into philosophical postmodernism, I’m really more a pragmatist who writes about culture and how it is changing. Just as the culture shifted after the invention of movable type from one that was faith-based to one planted in logic and reason, so now is our modern culture shifting to one that is vastly more participatory.

This, of course, troubles the status quo, which is firmly rooted in the modern culture it created and maintains, and one guy who is afraid more than most is Andrew Keen. His paranoid message makes for good copy, although it’s based more in fear than fact. In a recent panel discussion (he’s the natural counterpoint to the optimism of the Web) at the National Press Club, Keen pointed out that the Web is a threat to democracy. I’ve deconstructed Keen in the past and have no wish to do so again, because most of what he says is pretty obvious, although he speaks from the culture that is being disrupted. Here are a few thoughts from Keen as published by Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab:

The premise of democracy is not about the people deciding; it’s about finding educated, high-quality political figures who will make wise decisions about the community…

One of the mistakes we make about the Internet is that it’s technology. It isn’t; it’s ideology. The Internet was built by people who questioned authority. The Internet is bound up in a fundamental assault on the notion of expertise…

What I most fear about the Internet… is the way we take this technology, which has no center, is flattened, has done away with authority and expertise — we take this technology to prove the ideological, idealized theories of (Wikipedia’s) Jimmy Wales. The truth is, we need expertise, we need authority, we need to remind ourselves of the foundations of representative democracy…

The core question, in my mind, about democracy is whether the Internet culture, this highly democratized media where everyone becomes an author, where we do away with the old structures of power, where we undermine the 20th century meritocracy and we replace it with this 21st century — what I would call, perhaps mob rule, and what you could call democracy — whether that would actually lend itself to the production of a better-informed citizen.

The fear is palpable. Andrew Keen speaks on behalf of the modernist culture in the way the high priests in Rome spoke on behalf of the culture of its day when Gutenberg came along and had the temerity to publish a Bible without their blessing. The same kinds of doom and gloom messages followed, until the new culture was fully in place. So, like Clay Shirky, I think we should be looking at the decades that followed the printing press for clues as to what comes next for us, for surely the ideological Web is moving us into a whole new culture in the West. It wasn’t pretty then, and it won’t be pretty now, but here’s the thing that Keen and many, many fearful others don’t get. Modernism has failed. Utterly. Oh it has given us many fine inventions, but the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to widen; our economy is a zombie (as Umair Haque so brilliantly puts it); and crisis after crisis challenge logic’s ability to find any real “fixes. The mental state of the culture is in shambles, with the priesthood of mental health claiming disorder upon disorder and the pharmaceutical industry waiting to help. Take an honest look around, folks. Can you honestly state that things are just fine and that the culture is worth preserving?

Haque, meanwhile, has written a “betterness manifesto” that surely makes the modernists cringe, because, well, it’s so touchy-feely, the stuff logic and reason are completely incapable of grasping. Surely chaos is at the door. But is it really?

In OMMA Magazine this month, John Capone writes of a culture clash between Apple and Google, and I think he nails perfectly that Steve Jobs represents the top-down, command-and-control order of modernism while Google represents the participatory core of postmodernism. It’s a great read, but what he writes about Google interests me most:

The public face of the company is nearly socialistic. For instance, it’s almost impossible to tell from titles alone, except at all but the highest levels, what the internal hierarchy of the company is. Googlers beat the open source drum with a consistency that can be numbing. When asked for comment on the mobile strategies of the two companies a Google rep said only, “We believe that open is the only way for the Web to have the broadest impact for the most people. We’re technology optimists who trust that open benefits everyone, and we will fight to promote it every chance we get.”

I think Capone is speaking of the broader culture in describing what both Apple and Google represent, so I expect to see attacks on Google to accelerate as the status quo figures out that any company that encourages the revolution is not its friend. This is a culture war worth watching, which I’ll admit is hard to do when you’re smack dab in the middle of it.

Are we going to experience pain in the process. Yes, I think, and a lot. My feet are firmly planted on the side of the participatory culture, however, because I want a better future for my children and especially theirs.

The problematic part of modernism — better yet, colonialism — is that it requires an ignorant mass that can be manipulated for the gain of the élite. Where that ignorance is overcome, the top finds an unwilling bottom, and that’s why every institution of the modern culture is or will be shortly under attack from beneath.

It simply cannot end well for the status quo, regardless of the number of lawyers who speak on its behalf.

http://www.niemanlab.org/2010/05/andrew-keen-on-why-the-internet-is-ideology/

Of volcanos, earthquakes and Life

Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption by Baldvin Hansson via Flickr and TechCrunchSomewhere deep in the human psyche is the ability to care, and whether it’s for oneself, one’s work or others, this spark has driven people to achieve and achieve greatly. A big part of the process is determining what went wrong when things go wrong, and some people are better at this than others. God bless the fault-finders.

Engineers are great fault-finders, for example. We’d have never made it to the moon without them, but their fault-finding is deeply ingrained in scientific study of things we know or learn through experimentation. I say “things we know,” for what drives experimentation is a curiosity about things we know. What happens when I do this to that? Why did that happen?

My friend Jeff Jarvis barely escaped from a European business trip this week by catching one of the last flights out of Germany. He’s laid it all out in a wonderful blog entry, in which he uses the term “zen” to describe the events of his escape from the dust cloud of Eyjafjallajökull. The circumstances that led to his catching that flight are remarkable, and when we humans encounter the remarkable, we’re often left grasping for meaning. “Zen” was Jeff’s way of describing the remarkable. After all, when volcanic dust is the enemy, who you gonna call?

In the same human psyche that produces achievement lives the “idea” of God, regardless of how that is represented. Despite all of our scientific efforts, most of us still conclude that Life is bigger than we are. The problem comes in our response to that, and this is where I find confusion in abundance. Human beings want to understand everything about this “thing” that we don’t understand, and that’s a doorway for the corrupting influence of religion.

My definition of religion is very broad and includes any organized form of that higher power concept. In my view, for example, environmentalism is every bit a religion as any other philosophy, the key being the open or closely-held worship of a power greater than oneself. By worship, I don’t mean standing in a crowd waving hands either; it’s much more about how you live your life, and if some greater good grabs your being, then chances are you’re participating in a religion. The key, of course, is that it must be organized.

Science is a form of religion, although its members would certainly disagree. I think, however, it takes considerable faith to believe that squirrels “evolved” wings to get from branch to branch in trees. The evidence is theory, and that’s religion in my book.

Many social movements are religions, or they function as religions do. If it provides meaning for the unexplainable, then I think it’s fair to say that the zeal associated with that is religious in nature. You are free to disagree.

In following up his adventure, Jeff engaged in a wonderful conversation via Twitter (still ongoing via #ashtag) with anybody who was interested, and he included this Tweet:

Tweet about the ice cap from Jeff Jarvis

The article in reference is a piece by Dr. Andrew Hooper of Delft University published in the TimesOnline. The headline reads: “Why the Icelandic volcano eruption could herald more disruption.”

The fault-finders mind says, “There must be a cause,” and the expert of the TimesOnline offers up global warming. Here’s Dr. Hooper:

At the end of the last ice age, the rate of eruption in Iceland was some 30 times higher than historic rates. This is because the reduction in the ice load reduced the pressure in the mantle, leading to decompression melting there. Since the late 19th Century the ice caps in Iceland have been shrinking yet further, due to changing climate. This will lead to additional magma generation, so we should expect more frequent and/or more voluminous eruptions in the future.

Gosh, that sounds just so darned plausible, right? The statement assumes much, including that we humans are the ultimate architect of the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. Of course, blaming the consequences of disasters on human selfishness isn’t reserved for the environmentalists; it’s been around for a long, long time. It’s that evil in human beings that the religions of the Bible have used for centuries to control members and, by extension, culture.

Disasters, it seems, make for strange bedfellows.

The New Testament refers to natural disasters as signs of the apocalypse, and this has spawned subcultures galore. There are lots of warnings out there today coming from the right, who blame everyone but themselves for the earthquake in Haiti. According to the USGS, we’ve had quakes of greater than 6.0 on the Richter scale in Spain, China and New Guinea in just the last week alone. Oh my! The USGS reports we’re within normal range for a year, but that doesn’t stop those who use natural disasters to profit themselves or their cause from saying otherwise.

Still, I look at all of this after 63 years on the planet and sense that something just isn’t right. I’m no prophet, but I certainly believe — as religions of both the left and right are preaching — that we’re somehow paying for our deeds, and I have a certain thought stream that doesn’t bode well for the future. I just think there’s a darkness on the horizon that most of us refuse to see.

Is our planet trying to tell us something? To warn us? Something inside me resonates with that thought. Of course, maybe we’ll all have some great awakening and realize that we’ve just got to treat each other better and, in so doing, treat our precious planet better, too. Hallelujah, we’ll all will live happily ever after!

Religion provided an internal cultural governor for us that is long gone now, a check on our behavior. If you truly believe you’ll go to hell for cursing, for example, then you won’t curse. You know the drill. It makes for good citizens, but Sunday morning gettogethers don’t produce any better human beings than an environmental rally in Seattle, and I wish we could all see that. The Bible says God’s judgement (I prefer the consequences of our behavior before a Life that provides all) begins at His own house, but that is not a message that brings the worshippers in. Now I’m preaching, and I didn’t want to do that.

Let me close by saying that those who know me know I’ve fought big demons in my life, although I’m nobody unique in that regard. Where I have found peace — and this became real after Allie’s death — is with a profound understanding that I am a spiritual being on a human journey, not the other way around. What that means is that my behavior today doesn’t contribute whatsoever to my being more spiritual tomorrow. I can’t be more spiritual than I am; it’s impossible, because I am fully spiritual to begin with. The challenge is to become more human, and I find that easier than pursuing the other.

We are like amphibians, C.S. Lewis wrote, capable of living in two worlds. In the one, I am perfect. In the other, I can only pursue the goal of getting better. I have replaced the internal governor of religion with one that is less susceptible to mischief and manipulation, because my future isn’t determined by my behavior today. If I believe in heaven, then I should live as if I’m in heaven today, because the abstract nature of heaven and hell are alive and well in the streets that we walk each day. Heaven and hell aren’t so much places you “go” to, therefore, as where you exist in the here and now.

Is Life tapping us on the shoulder with events like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? Possibly. Why? Because all of Life does what it is supposed to do except humankind. We alone can say “no,” and that’s why we find ourselves in such a jam on so many levels today. Look around. Are we causing the polar ice cap to melt? Did we cause the collapse of our financial institutions? Do we continue to prop up what Umair Haque calls our “zombie economy?” Is the gap between the haves and have-nots widening, and which side of that do you think Life wants to defend? What’s happened to self respect in the age of anything goes? Why is sexual addiction suddenly so rampant? There are so many “disorders” today that one wonders what represents “order.”

The questions aren’t as important as our response. What will we do about it? I’m not sure, but I think it has something to do with that human capacity to care. Can we shift it just a bit from ourselves to others?

Finally, is Life capable of guiding you around these things if you’re sensitive? Is Jeff’s zen moment an affirmation that he’s “listening?” I think absolutely, but here’s the catch. Time and chance occur to everyone, or as we said in the 60s, “shit happens.” Life isn’t fair, because It doesn’t have to be fair. Life is hard, but it’s hard for everybody. There are no truly “privileged” people, because we all are.

<a href=“http://www.flickr.com/photos/baldvinh/sets/72157623876808932/”><img border=“0” align=“right” hspace=“right” src=“http://www.thepomoblog.com/images/volcano.jpg” alt=“Eyjafjallajökull volcano eruption by Baldvin Hansson via Flickr and TechCrunch”></a>Somewhere deep in the human psyche is the ability to care, and whether it’s for oneself, one’s work or others, this spark has driven people to achieve and achieve greatly. A big part of the process is determining what went wrong when things go wrong, and some people are better at this than others. God bless the fault-finders.

Engineers are great fault-finders, for example. We’d have never made it to the moon without them, but their fault-finding is deeply ingrained in scientific study of things we know or learn through experimentation. I say “things we know,” for what drives experimentation is a curiousity about things we know. What happens when I do this to that? Why did that happen?

My friend Jeff Jarvis barely escaped from a European business trip this week by catching one of the last flights out of Germany. He’s laid it all out in <a href=“http://www.buzzmachine.com/2010/04/16/ashes-and-zen-my-volcanic-story/”>a wonderful blog entry</a>, in which he uses the term “zen” to describe the events of his escape from the dust cloud of Eyjafjallajökull. The circumstances that led to his catching that flight are remarkable, and when we humans encounter the remarkable, we’re often left grasping for meaning. “Zen” was Jeff’s way of describing the remarkable. After all, when volcanic dust is the enemy, who you gonna call?

In the same human psyche that produces achievement lives the “idea” of God, regardless of how that is represented. Despite all of our scientific efforts, most of us still conclude that Life is bigger than we are. The problem comes in our response to that, and this is where I find confusion in abundance. Human beings want to understand everything about this “thing” that we don’t understand, and that’s a doorway for the corrupting influence of religion.

My definition of religion is very broad and includes any organized form of that higher power concept. In my view, for example, environmentalism is every bit a religion as any other philosophy, the key being the open or closely-held worship of a power greater than oneself. By worship, I don’t mean standing in a crowd waving hands either; it’s much more about how you live your life, and if some greater good grabs your being, then you are participating in a religion. The key, of course, is that it must be organized.

Many social movements are religions, or they function as religions do. If it provides meaning for the unexplainable, then I think it’s fair to say that the zeal associated with that is religious in nature. You are free to disagree.

In following up his adventure, Jeff engaged in a wonderful conversation via Twitter (still ongoing via <a href=“http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23ashtag”>#ashtag</a>) with anybody who was interested, and he included this Tweet:

<img border=“0” src=“http://www.thepomoblog.com/images/icecaptweet.jpg” alt=“Tweet about the ice cap from Jeff Jarvis”>

The <a href=“http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7101084.ece”>article in reference</a> is a piece by Dr. Andrew Hooper of Delft University published in the TimesOnline. The headline reads: “Why the Icelandic volcano eruption could herald more disruption.”

The fault-finders mind says, “There must be a cause,” and the “experts” contacted by the TimesOnline offer up global warming. Here’s Dr. Hooper:

<blockquote>At the end of the last ice age, the rate of eruption in Iceland was some 30 times higher than historic rates. This is because the reduction in the ice load reduced the pressure in the mantle, leading to decompression melting there. Since the late 19th Century the ice caps in Iceland have been shrinking yet further, due to changing climate. This will lead to additional magma generation, so we should expect more frequent and/or more voluminous eruptions in the future.</blockquote>

Gosh, that sounds just so darned plausible, right? Of course, blaming the consequences of disasters on human greed isn’t reserved for the environmentalists; it’s been around for a long, long time. It’s that evil in human beings that the religions of the Bible have used for centuries to control members and, by extension, culture.

The New Testament refers to natural disasters as signs of the apocalypse, and this has spawned subcultures galore. There are lots of warnings out there today coming from the right, who blame everyone but themselves for the earthquake in Haiti. <a href=“http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/quakes_all.php”>According to the USGS</a>, we’ve had quakes of greater than 6.0 on the Richter scale in Spain, China and New Guinea in just the last week alone. The USGS reports we’re within normal range for a year, but that doesn’t stop those who use natural disasters to profit themselves or their cause.

Still, I look at all of this and sense that something just isn’t right. I’m no prophet, but I certainly believe &mdash; as religions of both the left and right are preaching &mdash; that we’re somehow paying for our deeds, and I have a certain thought stream that doesn’t bode well for the future. Is our planet trying to tell us something? To warn us? Of course, maybe we’ll all have some great awakening and realize that we’ve just got to treat each other better and, in so doing, treat our precious planet better, too. All will live happily ever after.

Religion provided an internal cultural governor for us that is long gone now, a check on our behavior. If you truly believe you’ll go to hell for cursing, then you won’t curse. You know the drill. But Sunday morning gettogethers don’t produce any better human beings than an environmental rally in Seattle, and I wish we could see that. The Bible says God’s judgement (I prefer the consequences of our behavior before a Life that provides all) begins as His own house, but that is not a message that brings the worshippers in. Now I’m preaching, and I didn’t want to do that.

Let me close by saying that those who know me know I’ve fought big demons in my life, although I’m nobody unique in that regard. Where I have found peace &mdash; and this became real after Allie’s death &mdash; is a profound understanding that I am a spiritual being on a human journey, not the other way around. What that means is that my behavior today doesn’t contribute whatsoever to my being more spiritual. I can’t be more spiritual than I am; it’s impossible, because I am fully spiritual to begin with. The challenge is to become more human, and I find that easier than pursuing the other. We are like amphibians, C.S. Lewis wrote, capable of living in two worlds. In the one, I am perfect. In the other, I can only pursue the goal of getting better. I have replaced the internal governor of religion with one that is less susceptible to mischief and manipulation, because my future isn’t determined by my behavior today. If I believe in heaven, then I should live as if I’m in heaven today, because the abstract nature of heaven and hell are alive and well in the streets that we walk each day.

Is Life tapping us on the shoulder with events like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes? Possibly. Why? Because all of Life does what it is supposed to do except humankind. We alone can say “no,” and that’s why we find ourselves in such a jam on so many levels today. Look around. Are we causing the polar ice cap to melt? Did we cause the collapse of our financial institutions? Do we continue to prop up what Umair Haque calls our “zombie economy?” Is the gap between the haves and have-nots widening, and which side of that do you think Life wants to defend? What’s happened to self respect in the age of anything goes? Why is sexual addiction suddenly so rampant? There are so many “disorders” today that one wonders what represents “order?”

The questions aren’t as important as our response. What will we do about it?

Finally, is Life capable of guiding you around these things if you’re sensitive? Is Jeff’s zen moment an affirmation that he’s “listening?” I think absolutely, but here’s the catch. Time and chance occurs to everyone, or as we said in the 60s, “shit happens.” Life is hard, but it’s hard for everybody. There are no truly privileged people. We all are.

Chasing “The” Truth

Here is the latest in my ongoing series of essays, Local Media in a Postmodern World.

Chasing “The” Truth

As thousands of practitioners, theorists and academicians seek to reinvent journalism in today’s hyperconnected world, a central tenet of the trade must be honestly examined. Journalists seek the truth, we’re told, but what is “truth,” and has this quest really gotten us anywhere?  Are facts truth, and if so, whose facts?  The spinning of facts is the skill of that pseudo-journalist, the public relations specialist, but is the practicing journalist really capable of separating such chaff from the factual wheat? Do the tenets of balance and fairness apply to “the” truth, or do they suggest something more elusive? These are the questions we must ask, if we are to reinvent professional journalism in the age of personal media.

Next up, my 2010 predictions.