Above, is a Joan Miro sculpture that stands outside the Fundacio Joan Miro in Barcelona. In later posts I will be writing about all that but my energy level is still a little under par, (great trip but bad sleeps), and I have my roughly 800 photos to organize, over 1000 postings for the last couple of weeks on my GoogleReader (not going to read all those), and a slightly neurotic post kennel Siberian to attend to. But today was an interesting day.
Yesterday, at Heathrow, I picked up a copy of Ben Elton‘s latest novel, Blind Faith. Below is the jacket copy, and it describes this book nicely. It is a smarter version of Idiocracy (which I thought, ironically, was made for a dumbed down audience). It has a good go at reality TV, FaceBook, blogging, The Secret and many more elements of current culture. Its a novelistic rant against modern mass culture, and both bitter and funny.
As Trafford Sewell struggles to work through the usual crowds of commuters, he is confronted by the intimidating figure of his Parish Confessor. Why has Trafford not been streaming his every moment of sexual intimacy onto the community website like everybody else? Does he think he’s different or special in some way? Better than his fellow man and woman? Does he have something to hide?Imagine a world where everyone knows everything about everybody. Where what a person ‘feels’ and ‘truly believes’ is protected under the law, while what is rational, even provable is condemned as heresy. A world where to question ignorance and intolerance is to commit a Crime against Faith. Ben Elton’s dark, savagely comic novel imagines a post-apocalyptic society where religious intolerance combines with a confessional sex obsessed, self-centric culture to create a world where nakedness is modesty, ignorance is wisdom and privacy is a dangerous perversion. It offers a chilling vision of what’s to come? Or something rather closer to what we call reality?
I mention the novel because it gets one thinking about how much nonsense is out there. And after attuning to Spain, and while thinking overall that it is a much saner culture than my own, the television viewing indicated that there were some curious parts of that culture that weren’t quite obvious from wandering around. Exhibit Number One:
This odd duck is an astrologer and one of the many various psychics encountered at any given time on Spanish television (in our room, out of the 20 or so stations, 3 had psychics, 2 had fulltime lottery shows, 1 switched to porn after supper and about 3 switched to porn after midnight, as well as more Walker Texas Ranger than anyone could wish for). Exhibit Number Two:
I do have more pictures but on to the point at hand. This and some very odd informercials led me to think that I was returning to normalcy on the reentry to Canada but today, trundling down to Zellers to pick up some dog bones and an extension cord, I was behind a woman in line who was buying a new type of toilet paper. There was some issue about a two for one deal and how to ring it through the register, so while waiting for a manager to call back, the till operator and the customer talked about the toilet paper. The operator said the paper looked good and the customer said that she had first used it in Hawaii and really loved it. And then the operator replied “and wasn’t it great that it had added vitamin E?” At first I thought they must be talking about a second item of some kind, a food product perhaps, but no, the packaging on the asswipe boldly proclaimed added aloe vera and vitamin E. To my mind, you would probably have to stuff the whole roll up the old sphinctre and leave it there for a fortnight to get any benefit accruing.
Reeling from this insanity, I staggered out to my car, and as I pulled out, on the radio, long time respected CBC host Shelagh Rogers was seriously discussing listeners’ letters and call-ins telling how dead loved ones had caused trees and flowers to bloom after their passage from this world.
(When I was on the way to the store, the same show was discussing a government health commission looking into reported (reported but not proven) high cancer rates in Fort Chipewyen. It was worried about the effects, should the commission not find evidence for the link with the oil sands that the local population were certain of. That in itself is not odd but it was stated quite bluntly that the locals had determined the cause, and if the science didn’t show it, or came up with another reason, the science was insufficient. They had decided what was real and the evidence was not going to get in the way of that. (A lot of this sort of thing in the Ben Elton novel as well). The thing about cancer is that it is both a very difficult causation to pin down and it is remarkably amenable to woowoo thinking (that is, making connections either without basis or without having the background to accurately determine the cause but not letting that stand in your way). Now, I am not saying that the oil sands aren’t a factor but there is every possibility of an alternative explanation or two, and some objective inquiry is necessary to determine the likely cause of the higher rate, and in fact, if there is a higher rate.) Added note: this was radio…the later report in the newspaper was much saner in all respects.
Its always been a little fuzzy out there but it may be getting worse. Kind of natural really. Most people are not that good at processing information, and now that there is so much more of it, the odds of doing a good job of that are decreasing, and the sheer mass of infocrap hurled at us every day along with the proven lower efficiency associated with multitasking, renders even good processors more vulnerable to lapses of judgment.