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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

Tonight I did something I’ve never done before on social media, I lost it and went off on a rant. I’m so tired of the selective memory and selective outrage from everyone about everything.  And I’m afraid that is what the social engineers are hoping for in order to further divide and tear down our society.   I fear the damage is already done and we are on the edge of the collapse of American culture.

For years we have been pitted against one another, black on white on brown on red on yellow … male v female, old v young, haves v have-nots, Republicans v Democrats, Atheists v Christian, Muslim v Christian,   everyone v Christian.  Christian v Christian.  You name it, if you can put a label on it then they are against someone or someone is against them.  And we just sat back and let it happen. We as a people were more worried about our comfort, our ease or our entertainment, our statuses, our … mundane crap.  We let it happen to us.

Edward Bernays pegged it right in his book “Propaganda“:
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.

That’s hard to hear but one only need look at our society these days.   Social media has already been caught experimenting with the social media networks so it is not some conspiracy theory or theoretical fantasy. We have all fallen victim of our own personal biases and with the ubiquitous tool of social media we want to proselytize as many other to our way of thinking as we possibly can.  Of course each of us believe that we are in the right and that we are the open minded ones… therefore we cannot be wrong.

I feel it may be time to leave social media for an extended sabbatical.  I can see that I have been affected by the constant barrage of social network activism from both sides.

The war is upon us.

We have met the enemy

…and he is us.

 

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While recuperating I am trying to return to reading more and getting back to learning.
I am finding that reading is a discipline akin to working out. It requires a concerted effort to guide my mind back into “reading mode.” Much like returning to running after years of non-running where my body had forgotten “how to” run, I find my mind has grown fat and lazy.  It prefers the junk food found in social media rather than the solid nutrition found in literature, art, and story.  So then, my “exercise” regime is to ease my mind back into reading.
I find my mind is hungry for substance, for ideas, for things that will cause me to grow rather than waste away on the junk food found in our technological cornucopia of social media and instant infotainment.  I find myself wondering if I have waited too long to get back to learning?  Am I too old?  Is it too late?  No!
No.  It is a matter of discipline.  It will take work, and it will not be easy.  There are many distractions in this day of instant internet and entertainment access.  It was an epiphany to realize that I had allowed myself to become seduced by easy technology, to be ensnared by the entertainment at my fingertips in the device I now carry with me everywhere I go.  My mind has become addicted to soundbite, to bumper sticker snippets and click-bait headlines.  All fluff and no substance.
  I have therefore decided to impose some self discipline and require myself to read for at least one hour each day.   In practicing that today, my mind realized the shallowness  of what I have been consuming for far too long and it realized the emptiness of time wasted in cheap entertainment pursuits with which I have intoxicated myself. Cheap entertainment pursuits that require no thought have left my mind numb and in desperate need of more nourishing substance.  
I hope to incorporate more classical literature in my routine as well as my mind training progresses.  I just know that at this moment my mind is starving for something more that the mind numbing dribble that I’ve been feeding it for the past several years.  It’s not too late to begin again and learn.  It’s not too late to feed my mind and soul.

In the words of one of my favorite movies I offer this quote:
“…while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth.”
So, I begin… again.

On tap for now:

“On Writing Well”  William Zinsser
“Wabi Sabi for Writers”   Richard R Powell
“The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense”   Suzette Haden Elgin
“Finding your Perfect Work”    Paul and Sarah Edwards
“Pierre or, The Ambiguities”  Herman Melville
“Brain Power: practical ways to boost your memory, creativity and thinking capacity”   Laureli Blyth
“30 Steps to Becoming a Writer and Getting Published”   Scott Edelstein
“The Bible”   ESV study translation

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Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Death” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRabb6_Gr2Y

 

Marshall Mcluhan’s “The medium is the Message” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

 

Francis Schaeffer’s “How then should we live” part X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WOuYA5Esw

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Graham’s Magazine, March, 1846

Some Frenchman–possibly Montaigne–says: “People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.” It is this never thinking, unless when we sit down to write, which is the cause of so much indifferent composition. But perhaps there is something more involved in the Frenchman’s observation than meets the eye. It is certain that the mere act of inditing tends, in a great degree, to the logicalisation of thought. Whenever, on account of its vagueness, I am dissatisfied with a conception of the brain, I resort forthwith to the pen, for the purpose of obtaining, through its aid, the necessary form, consequence, and precision.

How very commonly we hear it remarked that such and such thoughts are beyond the compass of words! I do not believe that any thought, properly so called, is out of the reach of language. I fancy, rather, that where difficulty in expression is experienced, there is, in the intellect which experiences it, a want either of deliberateness or of method. For my own part, I have never had a thought which I could not set down in words, with even more distinctness than that with which I conceived it:–as I have before observed, the thought is logicalised by the effort at (written) expression.

There is, however, a class of fancies, of exquisite delicacy, which are not thoughts, and to which, as yet, I have found it absolutely impossible to adapt language. I use the word fancies at random, and merely because I must use some word; but the idea commonly attached to the term is not even remotely applicable to the shadows of shadows in question. They seem to me rather psychal than intellectual. They arise in the soul (alas, how rarely!) only at its epochs of most intense tranquillity–when the bodily and mental health are in perfection–and at those mere points of time where the confines of the waking world blend with those of the world of dreams. I am aware of these “fancies” only when I am upon the very brink of sleep, with the consciousness that I am so. I have satisfied myself that this condition exists but for an inappreciable point of time–yet it is crowded with these “shadows of shadows”; and for absolute thought there is demanded time’s endurance.

These “fancies” have in them a pleasurable ecstasy, as far beyond the most pleasurable of the world of wakefulness, or of dreams, as the Heaven of the Northman theology is beyond its Hell. I regard the visions, even as they arise, with an awe which, in some measure moderates or tranquillises the ecstasy–I so regard them, through a conviction (which seems a portion of the ecstasy itself) that this ecstasy, in itself, is of a character supernal to the Human Nature–is a glimpse of the spirit’s outer world; and I arrive at this conclusion–if this term is at all applicable to instantaneous intuition–by a perception that the delight experienced has, as its element, but the absoluteness of novelty. I say the absoluteness- for in the fancies–let me now term them psychal impressions–there is really nothing even approximate in character to impressions ordinarily received. It is as if the five senses were supplanted by five myriad others alien to mortality.

Now, so entire is my faith in the power of words, that at times I have believed it possible to embody even the evanescence of fancies such as I have attempted to describe. In experiments with this end in view, I have proceeded so far as, first, to control (when the bodily and mental health are good), the existence of the condition:- that is to say, I can now (unless when ill), be sure that the condition will supervene, if I so wish it, at the point of time already described: of its supervention until lately I could never be certain even under the most favorable circumstances. I mean to say, merely, that now I can be sure, when all circumstances are favorable, of the supervention of the condition, and feel even the capacity of inducing or compelling it:–the favorable circumstances, however, are not the less rare–else had I compelled already the Heaven into the Earth.

I have proceeded so far, secondly, as to prevent the lapse from the Point of which I speak–the point of blending between wakefulness and sleep–as to prevent at will, I say, the lapse from this border–ground into the dominion of sleep. Not that I can continue the condition–not that I can render the point more than a point–but that I can startle myself from the point into wakefulness; and thus transfer the point itself into the realm of Memory–convey its impressions, or more properly their recollections, to a situation where (although still for a very brief period) I can survey them with the eye of analysis.

For these reasons–that is to say, because I have been enabled to accomplish thus much–I do not altogether despair of embodying in words at least enough of the fancies in question to convey to certain classes of intellect, a shadowy conception of their character.

In saying this I am not to be understood as supposing that the fancies or psychal impressions to which I allude are confined to my individual self–are not, in a word, common to all mankind–for on this point it is quite impossible that I should form an opinion–but nothing can be more certain than that even a partial record of the impressions would startle the universal intellect of mankind, by the supremeness of the novelty of the material employed, and of its consequent suggestions. In a word–should I ever write a paper on this topic, the world will be compelled to acknowledge that, at last, I have done an original thing.

From MARGINALIA, Edgar Allen Poe, 1844-49

http://books.eserver.org/fiction/poe/marginalia.html

In this passage we see Poe’s passion for words.  Words and their ability to capture the essence of the human condition as well as the human capacity to think and experence in the physical, emotional and psychal realms.  Yet as powerful as words are they are only representatives of the thing itself.  Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase that the “Medium is the Message,” showing the ability of the medium to influence the message.  In the case of the written word, it is but a visual representation of the idea of the thing itself.  That is the limitation we see Poe referring to in the final paragraph, “but nothing can be more certain than that even a partial record of the impressions would startle the universal intellect of mankind, by the supremeness of the novelty of the material employed, and of its consequent suggestions. In a word–should I ever write a paper on this topic, the world will be compelled to acknowledge that, at last, I have done an original thing.”   That is the great limitation of words, they only have the ability to convey the shadow of the “fancies” or the impressions… and not convey the “fancies” or the experience of the impression itself.  Such a medium would do all Mr. Poe states it would, startling the universal intellect of mankind…. it would be truly a remarkable “original” thing.

So here sit I, attempting to use words as the means to convey who or what I am, think and experience, to an empty page.  In the attempt it dawns on me how our culture is influenced by our history and our shared experiences as well as the individual experiences others have shared with us.  Poe influences those who read him, such as Alan Parsons who conceptualized some of Poe’s works in music, thereby creating a new experience for our culture.  The experience is described with words but again we are limited to to a description and not the experience itself.   It is very frustrating to be given the richness of words (an advantage we have over mere animals) and yet be limited by that advantage to mere ablility to provide a commentary of the “fancies” and the experiences… and not the thing itself. 

So… Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Why I fled Facebook

On April 27, 2010 I declared my Independence from Facebook.  I have broken ranks from the masses and ran for the exit, though I fear it may have been in vain and I fully expect to hear, ‘Relax, we are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!’  [1] 

“Why” seems to be the question Inquiring Minds want to know.  Why bail out on such a good thing.  To answer that I have to confess that I am not wired like other people, and I may be a little too, Fox Mulder-ish.  Where others see Facebook as innocuous and something good, pointing to the old friends and classmates that it allows one to reconnect with, I see it as more insidious where way too much information is being collected and the collected information is being used to mold an experience.  That is social engineering and a type behavioral modification.  When the machine dictates what you see then it can influence how you think.  In my mind that is dangerous.

Why did I choose April 27th?  This was a day of convergence turned divergence for me.  I had already been toying with the idea of leaving FB for a number of personal reasons but then there were two articles, a change to FB that confirmed one of the articles and one posting in particular that convinced me it was time to go. 

From one of the articles (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/27/tom-helou-internet-cybersecurity-al-qaeda-password-google/ ) there is a heads up regarding corporate security and privacy issues.  In part it says, “As the global recession drags on, sensitive information only becomes more valuable – and more vulnerable. Former employees, upset over a recent layoff in these hard economic times, have insider information that can be used to access company networks and obtain corporate data. Depending on how big their axe to grind is, now it’s all too easy for the disgruntled former staffers to plaster sensitive intelligence all over the cyber-world.”[2]   Now the phrase that pays in this article is “more valuable and more vulnerable.”  Anywhere there is the lure or temptation for making $$$ there is the possibility for corporate hanky-panky and industrial espionage.  This article also talks about last month’s attack on Google where their source code was hacked. Again the article points out, “Consumer records can be left uncovered in the process of a breach, and the virtual identities of millions are left for the taking. In 2008 alone, 285 million consumer records – or nearly one per American – were compromised.”[3]  So the problem is both real and imminent.  I realize that is true of all sites that gather personal information on its users.  So why do I worry about FB so?

Glad you asked.  Now as most of you know I am a conservative and I never in my wildest dreams ever, never thought that I would be on the same side of an issue with Sen. Chuck Schumer… but here I am.  Today, the 28th I ran across this article and find I am in league with the Senator and others as, “Senators ask Facebook to alter feature that shares info.”    The lead  for this story begins, “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s latest vision of making the social-networking giant more visible on the Internet may resonate with marketers, but not all of its 400 million members are sure.”  What that means is FB, in order to make more money for themselves, and create a personalized internet experience for you, will now be, ”involved intermingling your life as a Facebook user with other activities around the Internet.”[4]  In other words they are going to make your information available to other websites that you visit so that when you visit these other sites you get a page that has been customized to your personality based on your FB information . 

Now Facebook has already been doing this.  You know all those ads on the right hand side of the page?  They all have the like button with the thumbs-up in the lower left and the “x” in the upper right.  If you like the ad and give it a thumbs up you  will see more of the same type and category of ads.  If you click on the “x” then you see less of those.  I remember when they started using that information to customize the in house ads that we saw.  In a way I am thankful for the machine’s use of that information because I remember how ugly it was when the ad would pop up for unwanted hair removal  accompanied by the gal with the Sasquatch pits. I probably should have ran screaming from FB back then… but I stayed.  FB has now evolved to the point that it leads instead of following.  It is now powerful enough to dictate what it will do and how it will do it.  This is seen as a boon to the movers and the shakers and all the marketing types.  Cha-Ching!  I see this as social engineering, corporate manipulation and behavorial modification that is beyond my ability to control.  To my way of thinking this level of manipulation is dangerous and borders on brainwashing.   Of course we have been under such attacks since the first marketing ad that was ever put on a shingle and hung outside a business.  It has now taken on the sophistication of fine art and we just fall in line and get in step.

Then there was the app that sent me over the edge.  FB is full of all these “Fun” questionaires.  This is where FB seems to take on a darker air.  Take a look at the questions.  They are very generic it seems but if you look at those questions you see a profile developing.  The FBI could not do any better at gleaning information in a full on interview as people give up willingly in these questionnaires.  Now let’s go all hypothetical shall we.  Person “A” fills out several of these funzie questionnaires.  Putting all of their personal info on them: age, gender, likes, dislikes, wants, desires, traits they admire in others, types of people they like… you know the spiel.   Along comes person “B”, a friend of a friend.  Now “B” is a creeper, a stalker type.  They read about “A” and since “B” is well versed in manipulation they soon strike up a conversation with “A” and using all the information that was freely and willingly supplied by “A”, “B” soon gets into the confidence of “A” and from there the games begin.  Maybe “A” becomes a missing person not long thereafter?  Who knows… that is a hypothetical postulation but the information that is so freely shared with others is real and is forever in memory in cache somewhere. 

Now look at your info tab on your profile page.  What can we learn about you?  Lets see: age, gender, education, likes, hobbies, music, movies, relationships, books you read, email, websites, your political and religious affiliations.  This is the info that FB is opening up to other sites you visit so that they can “customize” your experience.  Maybe it’s just me but I remember that Michael Crichton techno-western Yule Brenner played in, Westworld  “Boy have we got a vacation for you… where nothing can go wrong!” [5]

I am at a transition point in my life right now and it seemed a good time to escape the assylum.  Arkham was getting crowded and I needed to work on other endevors, including this blog.  I am on the mend physically, and mentally and emotionally I have excised some demons from my past that have haunted me for years.  It is time to start some reconstruction amidst all the deconstruction that I have been doing here lately regarding my worldview.  I also have to devote more time to preparing myself to go back to work.  So here at this cross-road I choose to take the road less traveled.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost[6]

I may yet return but not right now.


[1] http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/eagles/hotelcalifornia.html

[2] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/04/27/tom-helou-internet-cybersecurity-al-qaeda-password-google/

[3] Ibid

[4] How to Take Control of Facebook Privacy, http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/27/control-facebook-privacy/

[5] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070909/combined

[6] http://poemhunter.com/best-poems/robert-frost/the-road-not-taken/

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 I Think About These Things…  (a bit dated but I still think about it)

The Mayan Long Count Calendar ends December 21, 2012.  Why is this significant?  I decided to research this event and found the following:

Is there something significant we should know about the Winter Solstice date of December 21, 2012?

Yes. On this day a rare astronomical and Mayan mythical event occurs. In astronomic terms, the Sun conjuncts the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic. The Milky Way, as most of us know, extends in a general north-south direction in the night sky. The plane of the ecliptic is the track the Sun, Moon, planets and stars appear to travel in the sky, from east to west. It intersects the Milky Way at a 60 degree angle near the constellation Sagittarius.

The cosmic cross formed by the intersecting Milky Way and plane of the ecliptic was called the Sacred Tree by the Maya. The trunk of the tree, the Axis Mundi, is the Milky Way, and the main branch intersecting the tree is the plane of the ecliptic. Mythically, at sunrise on December 21, 2012, the Sun – our Father – rises to conjoin the center of the Sacred Tree, the World Tree, the Tree of Life..

This rare astronomical event, foretold in the Mayan creation story of the Hero Twins, and calculated empirically by them, will happen for many of us in our lifetime. The Sun has not conjoined the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic since some 25,800 years ago, long before the Mayans arrived on the scene and long before their predecessors the Olmecs arrived. What does this mean?

Due to a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes, caused by the Earth’s wobble that lasts almost 26,000 years, the apparent location of the Winter Solstice sunrise has been ever so slowly moving toward the Galactic Center. Precession may be understood by watching a spinning top. Over many revolutions the top will rise and dip on its axis, not unlike how the Earth does over an extremely long period of time. One complete rise and dip constitutes the cycle of precession.

The Mayans noticed the relative slippage of the positions of stars in the night sky over long periods of observation, indicative of precession, and foretold this great coming attraction. By using an invention called the Long Count, the Mayans fast-forwarded to anchor December 21, 2012 as the end of their Great Cycle and then counted backwards to decide where the calendar would begin. Thus the Great Cycle we are currently in began on August 11, 3114 B.C. But there’s more.

The Great Cycle, lasting 1,872,000 days and equivalent to 5,125.36 years, is but one fifth of the Great Cycle, known scientifically as the Great Year or the Platonic Year – the length of the precession of the equinoxes. To use a metaphor from the modern industrial world, on Winter Solstice A.D. 2012 it is as if the Giant Odometer of Humanity on Earth hits 100,000 miles and all the cycles big and small turn over to begin anew. The present world age will end and a new world age will begin.

Over a year’s time the Sun transits through the twelve houses of the zodiac. Many of us know this by what “Sun sign” is associated with our birthday. Upping the scale to the Platonic Year – the 26,000 year long cycle – we are shifting, astrologically, from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. The Mayan calendar does not really “end” in 2012, but rather, all the cycles turn over and start again, vibrating to a new era. It is as if humanity and the Earth will graduate in the eyes of the Father Sun and Grandmother Milky Way.[1] 

Ok, but it’s only 2008.  What is happening closer to today?  Let’s see, by law all analog broadcast television has to be digital by February 17, 2009.  “On February 17, 2009 all full-power broadcast television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting on analog airwaves and begin broadcasting only in digital. Digital broadcasting will allow stations to offer improved picture and sound quality and additional channels“.[2] 

The countdown has begun.  I wonder why February 17th was chosen?  Maybe it has to do with Michael Jordan and Paris Hilton’s birthdays?  Or Geronimo died on this date in 1909?  The odds on favorite has to be,  Pope Pious the XII declaring Saint Clare of Assisi the patron saint of television on that date in 1958?[3]   

Many have questioned why conversion to digital is necessary.  According to www.dtv.gov congress decided dtv is necessary.  (strike one: if congress thinks it’s a good thing  hold on to your wallets.)   The DTV booklet on their site declares such a move is necessary to free up limited bandwidth for public emergency services usage (or so the argument goes) and that is a good thing but they attached a glaring rider… and new wireless services, such as wireless broadband.” [4] 

 So who benefits?  I am not naïve enough to believe the government is doing this on my behalf, for my benefit. Why is Congress so Gung-Ho about the public viewing DTV and HD programming?  That is another thing that has bugged me for years… why do they call it programming?  And what do they mean by programming?

In an Image driven culture DTV and High Def will once again draw everyone’s attention back to focus on the altar of the entertainment gods.  They were tired of their worshippers multi-tasking and wanted undivided attention .  So will DTV make programming (however you define programming) easier?

 part 2

So, what is the magic behind all this forced conversion?  I was a radio technician in the Marine Corps and I understand a little about signaling so I’ll see if I can keep this very simple.  The exact wording on this change concerns “full” power stations specifically for the February 17, 2009 change over.  What this means is the full power “analog” station uses what they call the entire envelope for a given frequency.  It takes tremendous power to drive such a signal so it is less efficient and more costly to provide.  What the FCC is doing is telling the “full power stations that they need to broadcast digitally on only a portion of the frequency band.  The full band of any given frequency has an upper portion (upper sideband) and a lower portion (lower sideband).  The current analog signal uses both the upper and the lower portions, pushing the entire width to deliver the signal.  What will now happen is the stations will use only a portion of that signal (usually lower) to deliver the signal.  It will take less power to deliver the signal and it will “free up” the rest of the frequency for other uses.  In turn it will allow the government to auction twice a$ many license$ for the $ame amount of frequencie$.   (cha-ching!)

So why won’t your TV work if the station stays on it’s current frequency when it cuts over?  Because your receiver will not be getting the entire signal it requires in order to process the picture and audio after the change over.   This will require you to either buy a set top converter (cha-ching) or a new television (cha-ching, cha-ching).

I still wonder if there is some connection between a enhanced visual image and programming?  If normal analog signal programming produced the couch potato… what will HD programming produce?  If DTV will allow multicasting on the same frequency can HD imbed subliminal images and programming that will only be able to be detected in the subconscious?  I’m not trying to be an X-files Mulder-ite here but I think about these things.

So what will 2012 bring?  Will it bring the next phase of human evolution?  When this once in 26 thousand years event takes place and the long count calendar is “reset,” will we find we are evolving to a higher plane of existence?  If it is so then it scares me to think that the next evolution of man will be built on the foundation of our current condition.   What will be the necessary agency that drives the change?  What overwhelming need will ignite the spark for change?  Will it be: Biological? Psychological?  Spiritual?  I don’t know since I don’t watch enough Oprah.  But next year I can see it in HD.  I digress.

Order cannot come from disorder, if there is no absolute standard where we can anchor ourselves morally we cannot hope for something better to arise from that which is already broken.  Without a standard there is no difference between “is” and “ought” and each one is left to practice what works for them.  Wait, we are already there aren’t we? 

It’s 2008, the Mayan long count calendar ends in 2012.  Charlie Manson will be eligible for parole in 2012.

I think about these things


 

[1] http://www.planetpapp.com/br21december2012/

[2] http://www.dtv.gov/

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_17  1958

[4] http://www.dtv.gov/DTV_booklet.pdf pg 5.

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My latest read was a real departure for me. This one was another one of those chance encounters one finds when they frequent the local thrift store. I was perusing titles when my eye stopped on this one. It was one of those automatic things that happen when you are scanning rapidly and the brain screams, “Stop! Back-up.” Not exactly because it is such a treasure but I had heard of this book for years and it was the author’s name what really jumped out at me. The Book is “Hollywood Babylon” by Kenneth Anger, 1974.
For those who don’t realize who and what I am talking about let me do a little synopsis. Kenneth Anger is an avant-garde producer of occult films. Possibly known best for “Lucifer Rising” a visually symbolic piece of cinematography that pays homage to paganism and Alistair Crowley. (The Mr. Crowley Ozzy Osbourne sang about.) Kenneth Anger was teaming with Jimmy Paige for the soundtrack for this one but it seems they had a row about what-was-what and Anger pitched the Paige work and, instead, had Bobby Beausoleil (of Manson Family fame) compose the score for the soundtrack (from prison as I have read somewhere recently but have’nt verified yet). On a personal note I find it interesting how connected the Manson family was in the music world. Charlie’s music has received much airplay by groups such as Gun-n-Roses and Marilyn Manson, and there are may blogs that still ‘worship‘ Charlie and play his albums [that were produced while Manson was associated with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys]

Anyway, Kenneth Anger, a former child star in Hollywood compiled a tell-all, who’s-who with his gab fest “Hollywood Babylon.” If you ever wanted to look at the seamier side of Tinsel Town, and see it from the beginning this is the book. If you think that Sin City on the West Coast is bad today then take another look. Look where it came from and what philosophies it was built upon. Mr. Anger gives a grimy portrayal of what went on behind the glitz and the glam.

To be sure, there are those who bring up issues with the book, namely some attributations regarding photos and some date specific events as well as whether it was from the Letter “H” or the 13th letter “D” from which a starlet plunged to her final demise using the Landmark sign “HOLLYWOODLAND” as her jumping off point. Detail can be hashed out and nuanced but the gist of the tale is a major commentary on American Culture especially since this industry has become the predominant influence on current American Culture. Marshall McLuhan told us in the 60’s that the Medium is the Message. Btw. I was listening to Ravi Zacharias’ “Mind Games in a World of images,” today and he quoted (I believe it was Dostoevsky) on the evolution of art, “First Art imitates life…Then Life imitates Art… Finally, art becomes the purpose for life.” In these pages from Anger we see the human cost of fame and fortune in Hollywood. Page after page of nihilism bearing fruit as the elites come to the end of themselves and have no reason for continuing.

I seem to have begun a study on media and culture by accident here recently. I began with a study of Neil Postman’s, Amusing ourselves to death, along with McLuhan’s the Medium is the Massage (a compilation of effects), and his Understanding Media. I realize that I am a product of the media of my culture and now I am trying to understand how deeply such exposure has affected me. In reading Anger’s book I found myself wanting to take a shower knowing that this art form we call movies, the big screen has for years been putting out a message that reflects the worldviews of those we read about in Hollywood Babylon. In spite of, or maybe because of, the voyeuristic nature of the book I felt I needed a bath after finishing it. Some of the stories are hardcore in their explicitness and others are a read-between-the-line codification of what Anger is trying to convey.

This book is not for the immature or the youngsters but is interesting prattle from a first source.

 

 

 
 

 

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