Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Let the Radicalism Begin

I know what many of you are thinking: that I’ve been too moderate, often too kind — that my blog entries have sometimes been too long, perhaps too thoughtful. Well, that ends today.

Oh, I’m not saying there won’t be the occasional longish essay, but it’s a fast-moving world, and perhaps I can accomplish more with quickly spat-out observations — like snippets of punk lyrics, if you will — several times a day. I’ll try that, anyway (though I’ll dedicate this transitional longish entry to the late Mary Lou Forbes of the Washington Times, who so often helped my co-workers with op-eds done the traditional way).

With tonight (and perhaps you) seeing both a massive Tea Party rally in Times Square against government spending (which is where I think the bulk of our ire and activism has to be focused at this juncture in history, regardless of prior philosophical allegiances and emphases) at 6:30pm — and shortly thereafter at 8pm our Debate at Lolita Bar on the related question “Is America Economically Doomed?” — today is a perfect breakpoint for this necessary stylistic transition.

(It’s not clear I’m unfairly skewing the debate crowd in a “doomed” direction by encouraging Tea Party types to join us, since reminding people about the Tea Party may also draw such people away from our debate toward Times Square, where they may well be trapped for hours, given all the security and barricades that are likely, leaving only Obama supporters to attend the debate.)

If I’ll be spouting more frequent opinions, it’s only fair I encourage more frequent comments — and that I promise not to dismiss or combat every reader comment I disagree with. None of this, by the way, means that I’ve ceased to share Daniel Radosh’s fears — which I’m glad plenty of smart people I know feel — about where this all may be headed, namely Twitter-sized bites being the default communications mode. I worry in particular that no one will ever again change his mind on any important philosophical topics if we are effectively reading essays that could fit on pieces of confetti instead of detailed analyses.

And what will the Twitter generation in turn fear as this process accelerates still more in the future? A coming age of one-word conversations? Telepathically-transmitted emoticons without language at all, as my ironically-named media studies professor friend Read Schuchardt sometimes fears? How much choppier can discourse get? Is philosophy over? Is linear thought?

In any case, recognizing where things are trending, I’m going to try to get slightly ahead of the process while retaining some of the virtues of the past, instead of being completely sidelined. Engagement over sclerosis — even while remaining, to put it mildly, a late-adapter in so many ways. As I’ve noted before, I have no cell phone, no TV reception, no social networking sites memberships or history of Meet-Ups use, no Twitter account, no Netflix account, and nothing at home faster than a dial-up Net connection, and for now at least things will stay that way (entries that post during East Coast work hours will almost invariably have been written earlier to appear during the day, I should note, so perhaps sooner or later you’ll see an obsolete prediction, but then we’ll all have a fun “Dewey Beats Truman” moment).

If all this works well enough, the stylistically-altered blog may replace many previously hinted-at plans including the long-delayed book (the planned title of which, the slogan atop this blog, may seem increasingly ironic if the times demand a more radical, mutated philosophy to go with the changing times), but we’ll just see how it goes. I’m not ruling anything out. I just want to keep things fluid and flexible — like the future itself. You can chat with me about it the old-fashioned way tonight at Lolita Bar, of course.


Marc said...

“A coming age of one-word conversations?”


Sean Dougherty said...

I’m looking forward to seeing how you make this work.

Ken Silber said...

Some consider an island of sanity in a sea of madness. I never thought of it that way, though.

Todd Seavey said...

It is that, but I’m also shifting to an approach based on the immortal words of the villain Zoltar on the cartoon _Battle of the Planets_: “I am a lone oasis in a desert of fools!”