The Necessity of Hot Celebrity Gossip

If you have a few hundred bucks, you too can buy a gen-u-ine mind-reading device (Mindreading Headsets Will Change Your Brain).  Such things raise a few philosophical questions, certainly, but the one exercising me at the moment is slightly left field:  what sort of creatures are we, we who invent something so remarkable and…use it to Twitter and play Pong?  Examples might be multiplied.  We create a vast global communications network which puts countless lifetimes of learning a mere series of keystrokes away and, well, the sorts of things we search for are perhaps less than edifying.   (At the moment, it looks like ’Hot Celebrity Gossip’ dominates the searches.  We are preoccupied with a injured baseball player, a talk show host  and the recent activities of a woman who has posed for Playboy.  See Google Trends if you must.)

I wonder if the childishness, the playfulness, the fundamentally goofy nature of humanity is somehow required for the achievements we’ve managed.  Could we have the magic headset without the baseball players?  Would we have the internet without pornography and talk shows?  We are ridiculous and generally base, and the planet should almost certainly start over with insects, but before we sweep what’s most embarrassing about us under the carpet it might be worth wondering if it all goes along with, somehow enables, those parts of human nature which make us most proud.

  1. michael reidy

    James:
    Is there a deep question somewhere to be found on the surface or is this a category error? The whole thing interacting is an aspect of hive consciousness but it is still related to the race mind of the Yankee. The Hero: Michael Savage. Who he? I will go to my grave without knowing this and I promise not to pursue the matter. Distracted from distraction by distraction. You make yourself into the person that doesn’t see any of this by getting a pair of those headphones and listening to philosophy podcasts. Berners-Lee did not establish the basis of the internet for the benefit of world wide wankers. But it was the killer application. Similarly Caxton and his moveable type. Was Bell thinking of premium numbers?

    With children growing up now who are neurally trained by interacting with games and high speed internet, how will they not have ADD?

  2. Well, we are driven to innovate out of the desire to satisfy our desires. So in a sense, yeah, we need hot celebrity gossip and pong to develop these wonderful things like the internet. sure they have practical uses, and indeed we do utilize them for the “worthy” uses.

    Case in point, the internet…. its growth was driven partly by porn and sex. Even before the internet, some of the most downloaded things through dial in BBS was porn.

    So maybe the more correct attitude is to stand back in awe and wonderment that we are so creative and generous because we take things that were meant for amusement, and turn them into powerful tools to help mankind.

  3. Whenever I think about Mill’s distinction between base and higher pleasures, I do wonder something along similar lines. Maybe you need the capacity to enjoy backrubs before you get to like Bach. Maybe, as a species, a little ridiculousness is a necessary concomitant of excellence. It would have annoyed Mill, which is as good a reason as any for thinking it’s true.

  4. Diversions, diversions « tangents and digressions - pingback on May 5, 2009 at 10:11 am
  5. An answer to your question in two parts:

    1. Read Within the Context of no Context. The grid of one vs the grid of 200 (now 300!) million.

    2. Watch Cronenbergs “Existenz.”

    That ought to cover it. Short short answer: the mainframe that processes our terminal identities invariably produces a composite projection of our bestial natures.

  6. Cannot use Bach as a backrub because I cannot play him well enough, but I can have one with Beethoven and some of the Chopin I can manage.This might blur Mills distinction. But this isnt like the backrub of porn,or sex, its more open and multifaceted. This may support Mill. Porn’s end point is the orgasm, and the sleep of desire, trying to play and interpret music is more self demanding and more self creative ; though that might sound snobbish and elitist and more Mill like. I have however had to work for quite some years to get the music back rub – slight Mill here, but without a depth of feeling I cannot play at all. Mill thought music would come to an end as a concatenation of notes, but that is sound ,not music.
    It doesn’t take a lot of effort to enjoy porn, but it takes a lot of effort to shake its demands off. The quick fix is what we culturally more and more pursue and demand. I find big brother boring – is there something wrong with me? I do like watching the program Sexecetra which I find amusing and sometimes arousing, but I dont need that to play the piano, but I do need some sort of sensory and emotional satisfaction to want to play.

  7. My guess is that they are connected. Our curiosity leads us to wonder about the stars (“how does the universe work” and the gutter (“so, just how naked was Miss California in those photos?”).

    Our playfulness seems connected to our imagination and our ability to let our minds wander about. These qualities seem to contribute both to creating technology and using it to distribute porn (the law of porn and technology states that any technology that can be used to distribute porn will be used to distribute porn).

    As a practical point, all the tech, science and academic stuff needs money. To get that, we need to have stuff that the masses will buy. Since the masses like the stuff you mention (compare sales of philosophy with sales of porn), much of the “elevated” stuff has to be re purposed for the other stuff.

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