My friend Dave Dark’s wonderful new book ‘The Sacredness of Questioning Everything’ hasn’t yet been given to President Obama by Hugo Chavez, at least as far as I know, but I’m sure that’s only because the Spanish translation hasn’t been published yet…You can, however, read an extract of it here, at Killing the Buddha – a site where Dave’s work has been crying out to be posted for years.
The extract begins like this:
“In a now famous piece in the New York Times (”Without a Doubt” October 17, 2004), Ron Suskind described a conversation with an unnamed aide within the executive branch of the federal government. The aide listened to Suskind’s questions and eventually observed that Suskind and his ilk were a part of “what we call the reality-based community.” The reality-based are those who still “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Suskind agreed to the label, perhaps presuming it to be a compliment, and the aide cut him off:
That’s not the way the world really works anymore…. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actor…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.
Is it such a surprise? Manufactured realities are the business of governments, transnational corporations, and other top buyers of advertising space. Advertising isn’t what they do with a small percentage of their budget, with whatever’s left over after they’ve provided excellent services and manufactured goods; advertising is primary vocation. As McLuhan taught, the mediums are the messages. We’re soaking in them, as it happens. Did we expect a memo?
Two hundred years or so before we heard reports of a magically reassuring place called the No Spin Zone, William Blake talked about “mind-forged manacles,” metal clasps forged by the mind and for the mind. He heard the clank of the manacles whenever human beings opened their mouths. It’s the sound of people letting other people do their thinking for them. It’s the dirty trick whereby we keep perception at a safe arm’s length, denying ourselves the ability to think carefully, and letting a talking head, a career politician, or an ideological authority do the work for us. As Simon and Garfunkel tell us, it’s the way we hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest.
News networks understand this. They have to sell the news, after all. And what is news? Whatever they can sell unto us as news. They anticipate what it is that most people will watch and, for better or worse, deliver the audiovisual goods. If we want to hear about Lindsey Lohan’s woes more than we want to know about genocide in Darfur, Lindsey Lohan’s daily life will be the news. To survive, the networks have to play to our “felt needs.” In this sense, we are the newsmakers—and the networks are just the sales force. They’ll give us whatever they think we want. It is all they can afford to give.”