Not Quite Luddite Light

NOTE: PLEASE SEE THE INTRODUCTORY NOTE ATTACHED TO THE PREVIOUS POST BEFORE READING THIS. THIS IS QUITE UNEDITED. The heavy stuff promised to Syl is boldfaced below. Point for select readers: Golo Mann — Thomas Mann’s son — rejoiced in Auden as a “striking and provocative” conversationalist, but his monologues were “one-sided, and any remark one might try to interject was brushed aside with a ‘Quite’”.

Not Quite Luddite Light
Dedicated to having contact which is not always telegraphic
by Oxman

“Americans are dumber about history than they are about geography. I should say their ignorance about history is more frightening than their lack of knowledge about geography. Because with geography there’s only the fact that someone doesn’t know where a particular place is, that kind of thing usually. With not knowing history there’s the added dimension of what comes into play when someone is living as if they know what’s come down in the past.”
— a twelve-year-old the author knows who has forgotten more about geography than most of his professor colleagues ever knew about the planet

“Medical errors have become the leading cause of death to Americans, exceeding heart disease and cancer with over 800,000 deaths attributed to error — or 2,191 deaths per day.”
— William Charney (in the September, 2012 issue of ZNet Magazine), touching upon an historic momentum which has been placed on the periphery of the American consciousness courtesy of the powers-that-be ["Medical errors" include mistakes made which expose patients to excessive amounts of deadly radiation.]

It’s well known that U.S. citizens don’t know history. Nothing much beyond what’s provided by mainstream sources in sound bites which are easily digestible on the run, easily understood to be quite off the mark with a little leisurely, open discussion… which no one on the run (which is virtually everyone) has time for these days. Especially not if the talk is going to threaten anyone’s Ground of Being, their habitual thinking. No, no heartbeats can be set aside for in-depth debate/exchanges about crucial issues which demand fresh consideration in solidarity.

To question high tech gadgetry because of health reasons is verboten today in the U.S. Whereas Europeans at least are having serious, ongoing discussions about the latest documentation which links cell phones, Wi-Fi and their first cousins to deadly radiation exposure, and — in many cases — taking action to reduce or eliminate such, there is virtually no acknowledgment hereabouts respecting those health considerations. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, in fact, makes it illegal to institute any litigation against a cell tower company, for example, centered on environmental (read health concerns) documentation. You can sue a company over aesthetic matters, like if you can prove your real estate investment is being compromised by a nearby tower which is ugly. But definitive documentation respecting health considerations means nothing in the courts of this country.

Habit and the powers-that-be (making a fortune on the public’s addiction) guarantee that our current exposure to high tech radiation will increase dramatically with each passing day from here on out, unless a fresh paradigm for taking action against such abominations is embraced soon. I can elaborate on that — offering a new model for action — upon request. However, for now, let’s just consider that going about our daily routine, allowing damaging forces in our environment to continue unabated is tantamount to visiting a dentist daily and taking incessant, unnecessary x-rays without that lead apron which is routinely placed on patients. Worse, as per the national plans for proliferation and ratcheting up of the intensity for each radiation source.

There are other dangers embedded in our unregulated embrace of high tech creations in various realms. Dangers every bit as horrid as the radiation biz. But on a very general note, I’ll conclude here with a quote from W.H. Auden… which addresses the thrust of what I’m talking about, a spirit which has nothing whatsoever to do with being a Luddite, a term which is totally misunderstood and misapplied by the vast majority of Americans (who are quite dumb about the black and white facts of history and have had their survival instincts arrested or atrophied).

“One cannot walk through a mass-production factory and not feel that one is in Hell,” Auden wrote in 1939. “No amount of Workers’ Control will alter that feeling.” Modern technology was weakening human powers of judgment, especially private judgments. The banal objects and lack of discrimination that characterized its accompanying consumerism were suppressants of the human power of choice, and hence advanced the abolition of conscience. In his article ‘How to be Masters of the Machine’, written for the socialist Daily Herald in 1933, Auden had warned that ‘the machine… tends to dictate that the particular desire it satisfies is like it, unique and ever active, and to suppress those for which it is not constructed, unless you, the owner, are quite certain exactly what you want it for, e.g. I want this wireless set to listen to the concert next Wednesday…. I do not want it to be turned on all day while I read.” Auden was crisp and didactic with his readers: “Find out what you want first of all, and then if a machine will help you, use it.” He was not being what people understand as a Luddite with these comments. Rather, he was pointing out that if we didn’t heed his advice mechanization would deprive people of everything that had defined humanity to itself as human.

Contact the author at Kirkpatrick Sales wrote a decent book on Luddites. See 83. shows how the role of school in society guarantees that our horrid momentum will continue, unless we take action from an unprecedented angle. For those who still believe that Technology is our Savior, I refuse to argue the point. Rather, I ask the reader to glance at Noam Chomsky’s delineation of how the Magna Carta became the Minor Carta, by scrolling down to where his article begins at; the piece is full of matters which beg for discussion whatever one’s attitude about technology might be.