Deadly. Holy. Rough. Immediate.

Baron Von Swieten: Mozart, music is not the issue here.  No one doubts your talent.  It is your ju

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  1. All life is a stage, so this article is taken with favorable reflection and applied. I would not mind taking a survey prepared roughly & immediately: that is, with enough options to express what I might like about Andrew Yang’s ideas/approach without putting me in his box, a survey that does not impose the choice limits that the big election narratives do, as so well-described on this website.

  2. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thanks, Anatoly!

    I think the issue you may be running into based on your questions here is that you want to use the one (major!) dimension of our dialogue this idea seeks to organize as a universal categorization scheme. It isn’t. I don’t think you can make intent or good and evil to the theatres. Plenty of deadly theatre is accidental and lots of people perform holy theatre thinking to communicate some underlying good (even when they ain’t).

    I think we should generally prefer non-deadly theatre. I also think that the underlying goodness or badness of the response we seek to evoke through our use of meme is not perfectly correlated to, if not wholly independent of, the nature of how we perform. When I say I think it is important to recognize deadly theatre, it is not because I think it is some proxy or canary in the coal mine for “Bad Ideas” but because it is a destructive memetic communicative tendency independent of its underlying moral content (and to a much lesser degree, because I think that it is more likely than other forms to be associated with bad underlying moral content).

    I disagree with this contention, or at least how I understand it, with some fervor. While I recognize you did not say exactly this, it is very popular these days to state something like, “Media, internet and social media aren’t changing us, they’re just revealing what we’ve always been!” I don’t agree with that at all. That’s the contention I’m going to be pushing back on - that is, I think social media has absolutely and permanently changed how our culture processes, produces, consumes and spreads memetic content as opposed to non-memetic (or less memetically loaded, if we’re going to be pedantic about whether the former can even exist) information.

    If your contention is distinct from that characterization, I’ll be interested in discussing what you are saying a bit more after I’ve fleshed out my argument in favor of deadly theatre as its own problem worthy of a very high level of attention, which I haven’t yet done (in the original piece, or here). That also means I won’t really be making or arguing those contentions at length on the forum right now.

  3. Another way to consider these contentions is through the lens of depth, in the sense that social media et al. are shallowing out our culture/humanity.

    There is depth of tradition (chuch versus Lifetime Fitness ™ versus swiping habits), depth of craftsmanship (carpentry versus ikea), depth of expertise (study/practice/work versus Google Search), depth of sacrifice (service versus service ™), and even depth of emotion (I love you vs. love ya!), etc.

    Alternatively, with the likes of GPT and Dall-e challenging humanity on its own turf by replicating our Kanneman System 1, perhaps depth can be simply defined as Kanneman System 2.

    I’m finding it an interesting exercise to map depth onto the DHRI theater framework. At first, it appeared to me that depth may be found in approximately equal parts across deadly and holy. But on further reflection, since the ratio of Holy to Deadly is quite low even under the best circumstances, most depth is, and always was, in the service of Deadly (perhaps with the exception of work… my intuition tells me that honest work should somehow be elevated to holy, even if it’s the most plebeian variety).

    But what makes depth so very special and critical is when it is in the service of the Holy. Without depth, there is no Holy. Without Holy, we lose the best of humanity’s achievements. We lose Mozart, Einstein, Brook, etc. So, quite a bit is at stake.

    Whereas Deadly depth can be replaced/reinforced by systems (institutions, technologies, ecosystems, narrative machines) as we see happening in today’s markets, Holy can be a product of human depth and human depth only.

    That is not to say that now we find ourselves in a “it’s All Deadly All the Time” situation. I think that’s missing the reality by a mile. Arguably, there’s more non-deadly theater today than ever — but it’s relegated to the shallow side of the pool — to the rough(populism) and immediate(social media).

    I would say that the shallowing out of culture is a 100-year trend, just now going parabolic. But the supercharger of “social media” is not just extremifying the shallowness, it is also expanding its universe. Here, I would make a further bifurcation, noting that while the shallowing is certainly lamentable, the expansion is interesting and complex, and may yet have some wonderful and terrible emergent qualities.

    Another thought: With so much flux in tech, culture, humanity - a new theater may emerge. Maybe something like a Network Theater.

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