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November 25, 2005

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I should be careful not to descend into fusty elitism.

People seek the social currency that won't make them outcasts. The currency itself is the smaller part of the problem. It reinforces and entraps, but it is possible to escape it. Indeed, there is an inherent desire to do so. People get a feeling of real pleasure when they manage to shrug off otiose formulas for a while. No one likes to feel obliged to listen to or mouth ingratiatory banalities. That does not come naturally. It is dangerously depressing.

What is blameworthy is awareness without taking steps.

You have an open tag in the body of your post.

What is blameworthy is awareness without taking steps.

Necessary, but can be tougher than it looks. Where do you draw the line ? Where do one's steps lead to ? Where do one's steps stop ?

Yes, I agree.

I can draw a line, and it's a useful exercise in good company, sometimes leading to a standard that's "good enough" for most circumstances, but I have found it much more useful to attempt to become a producer of social currency, rather than a consumer. And if there is to be popular schlock, if there must be popular schlock, I want to put the production of it in the hands of the people who will be using it at the water cooler. I think that would boost a movement towards creative efforts, rather than the dulling effect of the lazy and formulaic.

Currently, the producers are isolated. They live in a bubble, with peers who have an interest in keeping social currency to schlock, and the schlock to the lowest common denominator. They have locked down control. Rather than try a frontal assault, I think it would be wise to make them less relevant; one cannot expect to convince Bill O'Reilly and Britney Spears that they are wretched and their oeuvre disgusting. One can make something better.

Hell, yes, Mr. Scruggs! We can produce our own schlock and shinola. In so many middle class homes you still find a piano, but no one plays it, other than a child once in awhile who may be taking lessons. We have given over the arts to those who are experts at it. They get to create every day, and we get to listen, watch, dance, or hum along. But what we hum is "intellectual property of Wealth Bondage." Building ferment from so many talented people, stirring it up, and becoming one another's audience, as we find our own "chops," that for me the greatest blessing of blogging. It is like an ongoing, free, writer's workshop, with each reading the other's work, and all of learning each other's riffs. The end result has a depth to it, a "street cred," an informality, an ease, typos and all, that you don't get in the worked over, edited, smoothed out, inoffensive work of the experts and stars. What been selected out in the bigger world is precisely what would destroy it, the stuff that is always tossed into the nearest Dumpster with a rejection slip reading, "Interesting in its own way, Mr. Scruggs, but I don't think our audience is quite ready for this. Best of luck in your future efforts."

Mr. Scruggs writes in the great tradition of Harlan “The Glass Teat” Ellison and Robert “Bowling Alone” Putnam. Once upon a time when I was teaching, I spent several weeks working on media literacy skills with my students. Because we were analyzing what was being presented on television, radio, magazines, and other media, I thought it was important for us to be armed with critical thinking skills and be savvy about communications concepts like framing, voice, etc. The experience was transformative for many of us—we never watched television or read a magazine the same way again. I think many of us naturally reduced our television intake as a result. (When I do watch television, I spend half the time yelling at the screen.)
Blogs have their own beguilements and we need to guard against these too.

Yes, Wealth Bondage is like Circe's Garden; the many enter, turn into happy pigs, and few return, so potent are its delights.

Blogs have their own beguilements and we need to guard against these too.

Please elaborate. I use what critical thinking I may possess with all forms of communications media .. to the best of my knowledge.

The only thing I believe is clearly different about blogs is that they may be, depending upon the individual, a less passive form of involvement with information of all sorts, be it invective, doggerel, satire, analysis, opinion, fact or fiction.

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