Monday, June 18, 2007
Reason, now less feasible than ever
An excerpt from the Amazon.com review of Al Gore's new book The Assault on Reason: "In an account that balances theoretical discussion of the foundations of democracy with a lacerating critique of the Bush administration, Gore argues that the marketplace of reasoned debate our country was founded on is being endangered by a variety of allied forces: the use of fear and the misuse of faith, the distractions of our entertainment culture, and the concentrations of power in the national media and the executive branch."
Thanks to Pigs and Battleships' del.icio.us bookmarks, I found a terrific column by Eric Boehlert that brilliantly bristles at the way the mainstream media is proving Al Gore's book's premise. A quote from the piece:
"But such is life for Al Gore when dealing with the Beltway press, where his vociferous critics cannot be bothered with the simplest fact-checking task, while oblivious media outlets such as the Post print up the errors.
Of course the thick irony here is that Gore's book laments the state of our crumbling national dialogue, yet it's the press that often deliberately dumbs down and interrupts our 'conversation of democracy.'"
In his revised take (and related comments section) on The Prestige, the smoke and mirrors story of two magicians doomed to compete to the death, reviewer Mike D'Angelo analyzes a quote from that movie's final moments:
"Since making this post, I've also realized why the closing monologue ends with the words it does: 'Now you're looking for the secret...but you won't find it, because you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.' The first time, I assumed those words alluded to some plot twist I wasn't getting. In fact, they are deeply, grandly metaphorical—the culmination of what I now recognize is the film's exploration of the battle between materialism and spirituality."
That monologue excerpt is worth rereading:
"Now you're looking for the secret...but you won't find it, because you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled."
As Americans (sweeping generalization alert, but if the broom fits...), we don't want to work it out. We want to be fooled. We don't want to know what it truly costs to fuel our SUVs and get our Wal-Mart dollar deals. The point MD'A makes about the battle between materialism and spirituality applies ever so well to the current dilemma the world faces, too. Hello, Iraq.
The twisted genius of the Bush Administration is that it knows we want to be fooled and that has been the secret of its sleight of hand "successes," lo, these many years. Colin Powell with a glass vial is political crack. A Tony Snow job pats us on our heads and sends us off to bed. An Alberto Gonzales "I do not recall" coats, soothes, relieves.
"The American lifestyle is not negotiable," famously said Bush the Senior.
Apparently, our national naivete is not negotiable either.
Comfortably numb. Voluntarily dumb. Forrest Gump 2008.