On Consumption

Heads down at a fixed distance from each portable screen, sequestered in the local coffee shops, increasingly protective (almost fanatically) of their machines, their exalted devices, led by false notions of innovation and progress, tolerating no interruption, no distractions—They don’t mind being tethered.

*          *          *

“It is tedious to say again, that, through modern science and technology, our material horizons have been broadened, our physical burdens lessened. A badly worn phrase, and it is yet another to point up these gains as having not seriously affected the greater struggle…the quest for peace of mind and happiness, the search for security.” (Terry Southern, “The Night the Bird Blew for Dr. Warner”)

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Our touchstones should not be pebbles.

*          *          *

“For the artist it is not enough that he communicate with others who are expert in his own art. Their fellowship, their understanding, and their appreciation may encourage him; but that is not the end of his work, nor its nature. The artist depends on a common sensibility and culture, on a common meaning of symbols, on a community of experience and common ways of describing and interpreting it. He need not write for everyone or paint or play for everyone. But his audience must be man; it must be man, and not a specialized set of experts among his fellows. Today that is very difficult. Often the artist has an aching sense of great loneliness, for the community to which he address himself is largely not there; the traditions and the culture, the symbols and the history, the myths and the common experience, which it is his function to illuminate, to harmonize, and to portray, have been dissolved in a changing world.” (J. Robert Oppenheimer, “Prospects in the Arts and Sciences”)

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