Sunday, May 25, 2008

Brooks: Potter > Caulfield && Obama == Caspian

This blog entry is by guest blogger Seth Galbraith.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/23/opinion/23brooks.html?_r=1&em&ex=1211688000&en=01ff46e1aad3c12d&ei=5087_&oref=slogin

Brooks' "Alpha Geek" stereotype is similar to Paul Kagame's (technology-based) "champion" reputation.

As for myself, not speaking for Brooks, I would go as far as to argue that the alpha geek ethos can be traced to early experimenters with modern publishing technology including the likes of Darwin, Twain, Marx, Tolstoy, Dickens, etc. But a fundamentalist primitivist backlash grew as a reaction to the age of steam, iron bridges, semaphores and telegraphs. This conflict can be seen embodied in literature like Frankenstein and Dracula. Physical manifestations of the backlash included efforts to preserve slavery in North America, wipe out stubborn indigenous populations who were able to survive largely by mobility and trade rather than being tied to the land, and spread colonialism into central africa and asia (i.e. disperse the landed gentry ethos to ensure its survival in an age of increasing technology). I will go as far as to implicate this struggle for the dominance of meat over mind as a major cause of all wars in the last 150 years from the American Civil War to the African World War.

The false dichotomy of "popular healthy jocks vs. socially and physically inferior nerds" promoted by psychologists ("science falsely so called") in the mid 20th century is perhaps a direct result of the climax of WWII in which meat seemed to make a final triumph over mind, with a great blood sacrifice conquering the evil axis "masterminds" (actually meat worshippers themselves) and mind being thoroughly co-opted by meat in the production of the ultimate meat-lovers weapon: the Bomb. But this resurgence of the meat was/is futile. The progress of mind can be slowed, and even temporarily reversed, but in an age of information technology mind cannot be stopped for long without also annihilating the meat.

2 comments:

LanceMiller said...

While the Brooks op-ed was a polite affirmation of geek validity, your commentary goes much deeper into
a rift in modernity.

For the last year I've been a quandary. Knowing I am against the right wing's old-time favorites of oppressive racism, Protestant traditionalism, and lame-minded version of patriotism. But going constantly for what is typically right-wing language on some issues. Your geeks vs slave-owning-colonialist-aristocrats tale of modern history creates a PERFECT opposition system in which I can hang my hat.

Here in the Northwest my college left-wing experience put me in a bind of choosing either 1) ludditism, mysticism, and naive-fundamentalist humanism bundled into one horrendous orthodoxy or 2) carte blanche right wing fascism.

I came up with political platform I call Bourgeoisie Technologist ( http://bourgeoisie-technologist.blogspot.com/ ) , and your dichotomy of tension between mind and meat helps it along by creating a historical narrative.

The Serpent Lord said...

Because ultimately the distinction between mind and meat is subtle (like the distinction between software and hardware) effete intellectuals and mystery-mongers may imagine themselves champions of mind while trying to separate mind from action, decapitating creativity. "Faith without works is dead."

Creativity, openness to change and physical action are not just accidental qualities of mind-driven politics, but essential components. (Much more important than any particular position or methodology of mind.)