Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Putting the World Into Equation

It may be propaganda, but I have to post this because it's extraordinary. It's the soul of the web and the strength of the mind; the product of a modern will. They may be famous, but it's talent and skill that gives it credibility. Here they're all just voices, no more or less than Lessig (for example). He just wants to say something, and would otherwise have no particular means to do so.

Karl Rove tell us the web changes politics because it opens up new and quicker channels to source donations. But that idea just grows his incredible infamy, and leaves a taste of sickness in our mouths: because we know the real reason the web changes political. It gives us ways to talk about it; clearer and sharper and stronger than before. We start to break free from the horrible minimalism of television journalism, the constriction of complex concepts to misconstrued simplifications.

The web breeds rationality because, at the very least, we understand better why we make crazy decisions. We can take delight in contradiction. We can watch the video and say that general rhetoric and oration are the very cheapest of tools of the politician. But we can point to Lessig and say that the president is a symbol. The president says something about the people of America--and the people of America have something they want to say.

Lastly, we can listen and laugh, as they say on the TV, that "Obama inspires young people": and call that the dieing rasps from the self-strangled throat that for so long filtered meaning; that which we brought to life by our now forgotten need to convince ourselves of a limit to our reasoning.

And yet, this is all contradiction fundamentally, isn't it? Can Will.I.Am do any more than highlight the genericness of Obama's rhetoric? Are we not replacing a society that is complexity-deluded with one that is meaning-deluded? Is the web not full of the most words with the least information, a tide of amateurish thought? Who is Will.I.Am to put forward an opinion on politicians, anyway? Doesn't he say on his site that he isn't interested in politics, and doesn't he suggest he was dragged into supporting the Kerry campaign? Isn't he the perfect model of the web author who believes his opinion counts, and perhaps sees it's impact caused, but is least qualified to fill our hearts and minds? The danger of voice is the propensity to use it.

2 Responses:

Patrick said...

Scarlett Johansson, therefore: Vote Obama.

I dunno, but I definetly prefer him to Hillary.

It is very good public speaking.

DJ~ said...

Thanks for dropping by, Patrick.

I'm not trying to say it's wrong to like Obama. Not do I want to say that the ability to inspire is a trivial and unimportant skill...

I guess I'm just interested in some of the irrationalities through which the nation-wide social conscious makes decisions.

I've also always been a little fascinated, as I think many Australian are, with the idea of an executive branch of government, in general. I mean, what is a President for, anyway? Plenty of sensible nations get by just fine without one.

Should he or she be someone to represent the population -- a leader who shows us the moral path, to define what it is to be American? To be a kind of personification of the foreign policy of the nation; to "act" on the world stage, the way we think of "agents" and "actors" in political systems?

If that's the purpose of a president, then perhaps the fact he's caught Will.I.Am's, or anyone else's attention and imagination is a sign of success. Perhaps this is the idea of a president that most Americans would be most happy with. It's always felt like an American idiosyncrasy: the need to associate actions and intentions with individuals, rather than systems. Perhaps Obama appeals to that mindset.

Old questions, I guess, but questions that are always there, fiddling with curiosity.