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Asunto:[MESHIKO] Fwd: Digest for prorev@topica.com, issue 1029
Fecha:Jueves, 13 de Octubre, 2005  11:00:14 (-0700)
Autor:Sylvia Maria Valls <sylviamvalls @.....com>


BRILLANTE ENSAYO DE SAM SMITH EN EL PROGRESSIVE
REVIEW. ME GUSTARÍA VERLO EN ESPAÑOL PERO YO YA NO ME
DOY ABASTO... HABLA DE LA EVOLUCIÓN DE LA MÚSICA COMO
EJEMPLO DE LO QUE SUCEDE EN LA CULTURA EN GENERAL Y
DEL AGOTAMIENTO EVOLUTIVO DE LAS COMBINACIONES QUE
PERMITEN UN NUEVO COMIENZO, UN NUEVO PLANTEAMIENTO...
DADAS CIERTAS CONDICIONES. DESCRIBE MINUCIOSMENTE
TODOS LOS FACTORES QUE COLABORAN AL ACELERAMIENTO DE
LA VERTIGINOSA CAÍDA EN "LA BOCA DEL LOBO", NO SIN
DEJARNOS LA TAREA DE CONTRARRESTAR EL MAL EN LA MEDIDA
DE NUESTRAS POSIBILIDADES. SERENO, CLARO Y
ESPERANZADOR ANTE EL HOLOCAUSTO... MAMADOC  
--- prorev@... wrote:

> To: prorev@...
> From: prorev@...
> Subject: Digest for prorev@..., issue 1029
> Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 03:55:07 -0700
> 
> -- Topica Digest --
> 
> TO SUBSCRIBE 
> prorev-subscribe@...
> 
> TO UNSUBSCRIBE
> prorev-unsubscribe@...
> 
> 
> 	
> 	UNDERNEWS OCT 12 T
> 	By news@...
> 
>
------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> Date: Thu, 13 Oct 2005 03:22:37 +0000
> From: The Progressive Review <news@...>
> Subject: UNDERNEWS OCT 12 T
> 
> 
> 
> UNDERNEWS 
> OCT 12, 2005 
> FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
> EDITED BY SAM SMITH
> Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source
>  
> E-MAIL: mailto:news@...
> LATEST HEADLINES & INDEX: http://prorev.com
> UNDERNEWS: http://www.prorev.com/indexa.htm
> XML FEED: http://prorev.com/feed.xml
> SUBSCRIBE VIA TOPICA:
> mailto:prorev-subscribe@...
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> 1312 18th St. NW #502 Washington DC 20036
> 202-835-0770 Fax: 835-0779
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>
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
> NOTE
>
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
> 
> In lieu of today's edition of Undernews we're
> sending you this article 
> in which your editor addresses the modest topic of
> the collapse of 
> American culture.
> 
>
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
> 
> THE QUIET STORM
> 
> BLOWIN' IN THE WIND OF CULTURAL DECAY
> 
> Sam Smith
> 
> Thomas Jefferson saw it coming.  He warned, "From
> the conclusion of this 
> war we shall be going down hill. It will not then be
> necessary to resort 
> every moment to the people for support.  They will
> be forgotten, 
> therefore, and their rights disregarded.  They will
> forget themselves, 
> but in the sole faculty of making money, and will
> never think of uniting 
> to effect a due respect for their rights.  The
> shackles, therefore, 
> which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of
> this war, will 
> remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier,
> till our rights 
> shall revive or expire in a convulsion."
> 
> Among the conceits of our elite and media is the
> assumption that 
> America, in the form that they wish to imagine it,
> is immortal. Part of 
> this is the arrogance of the big, part comes from an
> admirable if naive 
> faith in progress, part of it is pathological
> delusion. For a host of 
> reasons, beginning with our own survival, it is long
> past time to permit 
> the question to be raised:  is America collapsing as
> a culture? 
> 
> It is easy to forget that history is strewn with the
> rubble of collapsed 
> civilizations, entropic remains of once sturdy
> cultures, societies we 
> now remember only thanks to a handful artifacts
> guarded in museums. 
> 
> Our own country was built on the wreckage of Indian
> culture. Guatemalans 
> use Timex watches rather than checking the Mayan
> Calendar. The European 
> Union is a covert chapter of  Empires Anonymous. And
> in the Peruvian 
> desert there are huge spirals in the earth and
> straight lines that 
> stretch for miles whose origins are totally
> forgotten.  
> 
> Some sixty years ago, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber
> noted that elements 
> of a culture do die out, "dissolve away, disappear,
> and are replaced by 
> new ones. The elements of the content of such
> cultures may have 
> previously spread to other cultures and survive
> there. Or their place 
> may be taken at home by elements introduced from
> abroad. Or they may 
> survive, with or without modification, at home, in
> the different 
> configuration that gradually takes the place of the
> old one as a 
> successor culture."  Thus even if American democracy
> dies here; pieces 
> of it may survive somewhere else, or we may become
> the largest latino 
> culture in the world and, in any event, the Thais
> may keep the faith of 
> the Ipod alive regardless of what happens to us. 
> 
> Using ancient Egypt as an example, Kroeber says that
> there came a time 
> when Egyptians had clearly attained "the greatest
> military might, 
> expansion, wealth, excellence of art and development
> of thought. The 
> inherent patterns of their culture may be said to
> have been fully 
> realized or to have been saturated then. After that,
> with pattern 
> potentialities exhausted, there could be only 
> diminished or devitalized 
> repletion; unless the patterns can be reformulated
> in the direction of a 
> new set of values - which would be equivalent to
> recasting the 
> civilization into a new one or into a thoroughly new
> phase of one. This 
> latter did not happen in Egypt; so more and more
> sluggish mechanical 
> repetition within the realized but fully exhausted
> patterns became the 
> universal vogue."
> 
> Does this begin to sound a bit familiar? 
> 
> MUSIC AS A MARKER
> 
> Let's take the example of popular music, useful
> because music is a 
> creative discipline with a mathematical base, thus
> lending itself to 
> more objective analysis than some of  its artistic
> colleagues.  In fact, 
> you can write a succinct history of western music by
> simply outlining 
> the progression of chords used and their
> relationship with one another. 
> This is what Ward Cannel, a journalist, and Fred
> Marx, a classical 
> pianist, did in a remarkable guide, "How to Play
> Piano Despite Years of 
> Lessons."  
> 
> Displaying the basic chords  - separated by a common
> distance of notes 
> and placed  around a circle like guests at a large
> dinner table - you 
> can describe the rise of western music by simply
> checking off which of 
> these chords were being used by musicians at a
> particular time. Thus 
> with folk music, children's songs, early hymns and
> Bach's Minuet In G,  
> it was typical to use one chord and its neighbor on
> either side. 
> 
> In later classical harmony, composers moved from the
> base chord to 
> another, say, three or four seats away counter
> clockwise and then begin 
> a slow procession home stopping at the other chairs.
> Examples would 
> include Bach's Well Tempered Clavichord. It doesn't
> seem like much, but 
> in the history of music, it was a revolutionary
> change. 
> 
> Along the way, there were other variations such as
> starting at the 
> second or third chair and moving back towards home
> as in Honeysuckle 
> Rose. 
> 
> If you really wanted to be wild, you threw in a
> chord not on the way 
> home at all, but in the other direction. 
> 
> Then came a new stage and the game was played on the
> clockwise side of 
> the circle. Later a tune might work its way entirely
> around the circle. 
> Or if you want to be really hip, you could leap
> across the circle to the 
> other side. 
> 
> Similarly, the baker's dozen of notes in the western
> scale have been 
> rearranged over time in increasingly complex ways,
> starting with the 
> simple chords we associate with folk music and
> moving on to add the 7th, 
> flatted 9th, 13h and so forth. 
> 
> If you were to take every piece of music in America
> ever written and 
> categorize it by these standards - the number and
> placement of chords 
> and their complexity - you would find that musical
> opportunity has grown 
> with the rest of the republic. 
> 
> This didn't mean that you had to use all these
> opportunities to make 
> good music - bluegrass and the blues prove that -
> only that the 
> potential for musicians and composers were ever
> expanding, a sign of a 
> thriving culture. As Thelonius Monk put it, "I'm
> after new chords, new 
> ways of syncopating, new figures, new runs. How to
> use notes 
> differently. That's it. Just using notes
> differently."
> 
> Unfortunately, however, there are only so many
> chairs at the table and 
> there are only so many combinations of movement.
> Eventually you run out 
> of chairs for chords, variations on the order you
> play them, and their 
> complexity. You reach the point that Kroeber
> described: "With pattern 
> potentialities exhausted, there could be only
> diminished or devitalized 
> repletion. . . so more and more sluggish mechanical
> repetition within 
> the realized but fully exhausted patterns became the
> universal vogue."
> 
> Which is to say, much of the music of today. 
> 
> There is, to be sure, another major source of
> change: other cultures. 
> American folk music, for example, is a history of
> immigration translated 
> into notes. The blues, it has been suggested,
> originated in a blend of 
> the western and African scale. As early as Jelly
> Roll Morton,  jazz 
> musicians were borrowing from latin sounds with
> perhaps the most notable 
> recent folk example being the blending of Paul Simon
> and Ladysmith Black 
> Mambazo in 'Graceland.' 
> 
> This continues today but in a critically modified
> form: Jelly Roll  
> Morton and Paul Simon were inventive musicians
> seeking the best in 
> another culture; Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan are
> products of a huge 
> anglo  recording company looking for something new
> to exploit. 
> 
> I suspect the decay of American music may have begun
> with the disco drum 
> machine of 1970s, the beginning of percussion
> mechanicus to go along 
> with Erich Fromm's homo mechanicus. Both share a
> problem: they aren't 
> human. A live drummer is constantly listening to the
> other musicians, 
> finding new ways to back them up, discovering a
> groove by intent or 
> accident,  making a two bar point, or just showing
> off. If you were to 
> analyze the sound with lab equipment you might be
> amazed at how 
> irregular it actually is - the inevitable result of
> being human rather 
> than mechanical.
> 
> But that is part of the secret of real music. Much
> of the appeal of 
> jazz, for example, comes from listening to the
> alteration, manipulation 
> or distortion of the familiar. Thus a singer may
> hold a note longer than 
> expected or lend it excruciating pain when you were
> expecting nothing 
> more than a simple B flat. One writer described it
> as repetition just to 
> the point of boredom - at which something new and
> unexpected happens. 
> 
> As amplifiers replaced acoustic sound, there were
> other changes in 
> music. The recording companies began dumbing down
> music, reducing the 
> number of chords, replacing melody with repetitive
> phrases,  emphasizing 
> only the extreme end of the dynamic range, and in
> the end - with rap - 
> doing away with the need for music almost entirely. 
> 
> This is not to say that there was not merit within
> these forms - the 
> pain and rebellion of punk, the soul of rap - but
> rather that for the 
> most part the corporate monopolies had seized
> control of our ear drums 
> and locked them down in a few tiny cells. 
> 
> The result is telling. In 2002, ABC asked
> respondents for the top rock n 
> roll star of all time. Elvis Presley got 38%, no one
> else got more than 
> 5% and listed in the top ten were such golden oldies
> as Jimi Hendrix, 
> John Lennon, Mick  Jagger, Bruce Springseen, Paul
> McCartney and Eric 
> Clapton. Michael Jackson got 2%. 
> 
> A Zogby poll in 1999 asked for the best male singer
> of the century. 
> Again, only one name got more than ten percent:
> Frank Sinatra, with 
> Elvis Presley in second. Third place went to Garth
> Brooks, current but 
> in an highly traditional genre. The rest were:
> Luciano Pavarotti, Elton 
> John, Bing Crosby, George Strait, Nat King Cole,
> Perry Como, and Luther 
> Vandross. Three were dead, one an opera singer, one
> a country singer, 
> and Vandross an  R&B singer who had been around for
> years but found a 
> crossover audience in 1989. 
> 
> A similar poll of women singers was far more current
> but with the 
> leader, Barbra Streisand, getting only 14% of the
> vote. Celine Dion, 
> Whitney Houston, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Shania
> Twain, Ella 
> Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, and
> Lorretta Lynn all came in 
> under 10%. 
> 
> A more contemporary list, to be sure, but heavily
> tilted towards the 
> traditional sounds of black and country music and
> voices that, while 
> unique, could hardly be called inventive. 
> 
> Thus when you ask, what's been happening in American
> popular music over 
> the past 25 years, a reasonable answer is: not much.
> 
> 
> You find similarities in other arts. For example, a
> Modern Library 
> critics' listing of the 100 best English language
> novels of the 20th 
> century includes only one written after 1980:
> Ironweed by William 
> Kennedy, written in 1983. 
> 
> One list of the 100 most acclaimed films finds only
> nine post-1980.  The 
> American Film Institute's list includes only 13. 
> 
> One may quarrel with such lists, but a culture that
> is truly thriving 
> will tend, if anything, to overvalue its own
> contributions and downplay 
> those of the past. You may argue, for example,  with
> those who claimed 
> to come from 'the greatest generation,' but you
> can't argue that they 
> felt that way. Now, instead of bragging, we just
> order Butch Cassidy 
> from Neflix one more time. 
> 
> THE END OF GREATNESS
> 
> A vibrant culture will be spurred by what it
> considers greatness. This 
> doesn't mean that it necessarily is, but the mere
> presumption affects 
> how the society behaves. 
> 
> For example, Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote that
> "Whether or not you 
> agreed with them, university presidents used to be
> dignified figures on 
> the American scene. They often were distinguished
> scholars, capable of 
> bringing their own brand of independent thinking to
> bear on the 
> operation and reform of their institutions. Above
> all, they took 
> seriously the university's mission to seek and
> transmit the truth, and 
> thereby to strengthen the free society that made
> such inquiry possible. 
> 
> "But it has been a long time since Woodrow Wilson
> (at Princeton), Robert 
> Hutchins (at Chicago) or James Bryant Conant (at
> Harvard) set the tone 
> for American campuses. Over the past year, four
> university presidents 
> have been in the news - from Harvard; the University
> of California, 
> Santa Cruz; the University of Colorado; and the
> University of 
> California, Berkeley. In each case, the curtains
> have briefly parted, 
> allowing the public to glimpse the campus wizards
> working the levers 
> behind the scenes, and confirming that something has
> gone terribly wrong 
> at our best public and private universities." 
> 
> Of course, Woodrow Wilson spread segregation in the
> government and James 
> Conant may have done public education incalculable
> damage by setting it 
> on a course of gargantuan factory-like school
> districts, but that is not 
> the point.  The point is that they were icons of a
> society that thought 
> it knew where it was going and what it admired. 
> 
> Today, with Larry Summers at Harvard or Benjamin
> Ladner at American 
> University - such figures have largely been reduced
> to talk of their 
> fundraising skill or excessive expense accounts. 
> Few suggest that they 
> are people we should actually admire.  
> 
> Similarly, in the churches there is a stunning lack
> of models. This is 
> not merely the fault of the neo-Gantries who have
> taken over much of 
> American Christianity but of other Protestant sects
> that say not a 
> mumblin' word about  the theological hijacking of
> the right and who 
> offer little alternative in such areas as social
> justice and world 
> peace.  Judaism, which once helped carry the banner
> for social change, 
> has largely abandoned that field in favor of raising
> funds for Israel. 
> As for the Catholics, the best they can do is try to
> find ways to prove 
> that they're not a bunch of perverts. The best we
> can do is  applaud a 
> bishop from South Africa and a lama from Tibet.
> 
> The dearth of greatness is most painfully obvious
> perhaps in the 
> nation's capital, in its politics, think tanks and
> media.  To be sure, a 
> pantomime is performed, but everyone knows it is
> just for television. 
> Bush compares himself to Roosevelt, Koppel pretends
> he's Murrow, but 
> nobody's really fooled. The disappearance of
> greatness - whether rightly 
> or wrongly recognized as such - is common throughout
> American society - 
> from football coaches to moral leaders.  In the end
> we are left with Ben 
> Affleck and Oprah Winfrey. 
> 
> Part of the problem was identified as far back as
> the 1920s by Julien 
> Benda in his book, The Treason of the Intellectuals:
> "At the very top of 
> the scale of moral values [the intellectuals] place
> the possession of 
> concrete advantages, of material power and the means
> by which they are 
> procured; and they hold up to scorn the pursuit of
> truly spiritual 
> advantages, of non-practical or disinterested
> values."
> 
> Instead of being outsiders, critics and moral
> observers, the American 
> intelligentsia have become players accepting many of
> the values of the 
> system they should be scorning. 
> 
> Benda listed some of these values:
> 
> - "The extolling of courage at the expense of other
> virtues. . . 
> 
> - "The extolling of harshness and the scorn for
> human love -- pity, 
> charity, benevolence. . . 
> 
> - "The teaching which says that when a will is
> successful that fact 
> alone gives it a moral value, whereas the will which
> fails is for that 
> reason alone deserving of contempt." 
> 
> In my last book, Why Bother?, I wrote:
> 
> [Older Americans] remember the victories and their
> celebrations; they 
> remember Norman Rockwell men standing motionless for
> the national anthem 
> in baseball stadiums with fedoras held over their
> hearts;  a government 
> that did more than regulate or arrest you;
> politicians who were revered; 
> newscasters who were trusted; and music that dripped
> syrup over our 
> spirits and made them sweet and sticky. They
> remember when there was a 
> right and wrong and who and what belonged with each,
> whether it was true 
> or not. They remember a time when those in power
> lied and were actually 
> able to fool us.  They remember what a real myth was
> like even when it 
> was false, cruel, deceptive, and the property of
> only a few. 
> 
> Now, despite the improved economic and social status
> of women and 
> minorities, despite decades of economic progress,
> despite Velcro, SUVs, 
> MTV, NASA, DVD, cell phones, and the Internet you
> can't raise a majority 
> that is proud of this country. We neither enjoy our
> myths nor our 
> reality. We hate our politicians, ignore our moral
> voices, and distrust 
> our media. We have destroyed natural habitats,
> created the nation's 
> first downwardly mobile generation, stagnated their
> parent's income, and 
> removed the jobs of each to distant lands. We have
> created rapacious 
> oligopolies of defense and medicine, frittered away
> public revenues and 
> watched indifferently as, around the world, the
> homeless and the 
> miserable pile up. Our leaders and the media speak
> less and less of 
> freedom, democracy, justice, or of their own land.
> Perhaps most telling, 
> we are no longer able to react, but only to gawk.
> 
> Too be sure, many of the symbols of America remain,
> but they have become 
> crude -- desperately or only commercially imitative
> of something that 
> has faded. We still stand for the Star Spangled
> Banner, but we no longer 
> know what to do while on our feet. We still
> subscribe to the morning 
> paper but it reads like stale beer. And some of us
> even still vote, but 
> expect ever less in return. Where once we failed to
> practice our 
> principles, now we no longer even profess to honor
> them. 
> 
> INDICATORS
> 
> If this seems like a somewhat backwards approach to
> naming the real 
> villains, it is intended to be. Our politicians, bad
> as many of them 
> are, in the end are mainly symptoms of our
> disintegration. A strong 
> country would not have  fallen for as flagrant a
> fraud as Ronald Reagan 
> or George Bush, nor ones as cleverly corrupt as the
> Clintons. 
> 
> It is fair to say, however, that much of our decline
> began with the 
> Reagan administration and, without exception, has
> continued since. The 
> evidence for this is strewn across the landscape,
> but here are just 25 
> things that have  gotten worse in the past 25 years:
> 
> 
> 1. Real income of Americans
> 2. Decline in wealth of the bottom 40%
> 3. Number of older families with pensions
> 4. Foreign debt as a percent of GDP
> 5. Personal bankruptcies
> 6. Housing foreclosures
> 7. Annual personal savings rate of families
> 8. Corruption in politics
> 9. Number of people in prison
> 10. Drug induced deaths despite drug war
> 11. Civil liberties lost as result of drug war and
> war on terror
> 12. Pensions that include health care benefits
> 13. Number of families without health insurance
> 14. Numbers of corporations controlling most of the
> media
> 15. Public trust in major media
> 16. Time children spend playing
> 17. Divorce rate
> 18. Increase in wealth of wealthiest senators
> 19. Decline in voting participation
> 20. Number  of registered lobbyists on Capitol Hill
> 21. Wages of recent male high school grads
> 22. Wages of bottom ten percent of workers
> 23. Ratio of executive to worker pay
> 24. Decline in real value of minimum wage
> 25. Harassment of young people for minor offenses
> 
> It is particularly telling that in the past thirty
> years, America has 
> passed more laws than it did in its first two
> centuries, a sign of a 
> country that has lost its way and trying desperately
> to compensate by 
> making the results of its failures illegal.
> 
> CAUSES OF DECAY
> 
> There are innumerable contributing factors for what
> has happened to 
> America, but here are a few that might escape
> notice:
> 
> ABUSE OF MYTHOLOGY  - America has always been a high
> myth country. Only 
> 13% believe that God was not involved in the
> evolution of human life. 
> One poll found that 61% believed that Genesis is
> literally true, sixty 
> percent believe in Noah's ark, and a third believe
> in ghosts. Americans 
> believe that over half the people in the world speak
> English (actually 
> it's closer to 20%). Ironically, Americans'
> mythological inclinations 
> often have more in common with the currently hated
> Muslims than with 
> many Europeans. 
> 
> Such myths are not novel developments, so why is it
> that we find them 
> mattering so much these days? One answer is that
> while the general 
> populace chooses what to believe, they are heavily
> influenced by their 
> leaders as to what these beliefs mean. Thus, while
> ethnic prejudice is a 
> widespread human trait, it takes a Hitler or
> southern white politicians 
> to give it an actively vicious role. In both cases,
> the argument blamed 
> society's problems on a minority, pandering to myths
> and twisting them 
> into a new and virulent form.  
> 
> Similarly today, we find the Republican Party
> pandering to religious 
> myths, but also manipulating them to its own
> perverted advantage to 
> blame groups like gays or women who have freed
> themselves from 
> traditional roles.  We have always had
> fundamentalist Christians in this 
> country; what is different is that they once voted
> the Democratic 
> ticket. Today their myths have been rhetorically
> twisted against their 
> own interests -  including their substantial
> economic, educational, and 
> environmental problems - and turned towards 
> irrelevant targets that 
> deflect the blame from those truly responsible. In a
> similar way, Hitler 
> used Jews initially as a cause of Germany's economic
> problems, but in 
> the end had them actually taking jobs from Germans
> by forced labor in 
> concentration camps. In a similar way, poor southern
> whites were kept in 
> their place by being convinced it was all the
> blacks' fault, which 
> helped to keep down the wages of both groups. 
> 
> Such cynical behavior can come to no good end.  And
> in the process, the 
> culture that accepts such a redefinition of its own
> myths becomes a 
> prisoner of the myth twisters, causing it to turn  -
> as in the present 
> case -  not to Christ but to a Karl Rove or George
> Bush for an 
> understanding of what faith means.  While plenty of
> cultures have 
> thrived on mythological faith,  it is impossible to
> do so when faith 
> becomes a massive fraud. 
> 
> TELEVISION - Television is attacked by both left and
> right for its 
> values, but its deepest threat to American culture
> actually comes from 
> its omnipresence. As Marshall McLuhan put it  to
> Wired magazine: "The 
> real message of media today is ubiquity. It is no
> longer something we 
> do, but something we are part of. It confronts us as
> if from the outside 
> with all the sensory experience of the history of
> humanity. "
> 
> The semiotician Marshall Blonsky called it a
> semiosphere, "a dense 
> atmosphere of signs triumphantly permeating all
> social, political and 
> imaginative life and, arguably, constituting our
> desiring selves as 
> such." 
> 
> Television makes all values its prisoner, whether
> the guard is Bill 
> O'Reilly or Charlie Rose; and so ultimately, and
> inevitably, whatever 
> culture is watching it loses to the tube. 
> 
> Television has had another bad effect. Before it
> came along, a good 
> politician was typically someone with high social
> intelligence, someone 
> who knew how to react to human beings and human
> situations. TV has 
> largely eliminated that need, favoring (and
> encouraging) a form of high 
> functioning autism in which political rhetoric
> becomes a continuous 
> feedback loop often unrelated to the situation in
> which the politician 
> is placed or the issues being raised. Thus,
> television has become the 
> means by which leaders have escaped their own
> culture, and their culture 
> has lost contact with them. 
> 
> THE CORPORATIZATION OF  CULTURE - Increasingly, the
> language and values 
> of our culture is that of corporations, something
> that became 
> fashionable in the Reagan administration  and has
> been cursing us ever 
> since.  It is so rampant that even the band
> Metallica pondered whether 
> it should have a mission statement. 
> 
> Among the values of this corporate culture is the
> elevation of managers 
> and salespersons to iconic status. Fifty years ago
> this would have been 
> considered a joke, but today it is widely accepted.
> Inherent in this 
> bizarre value system is the inference that those who
> make or create 
> things are less important than those who manage or
> sell them. In other 
> words, as a matter of government, economic, and
> intellectual policy, the 
> content of our culture is no longer as important as
> how well it can be 
> marketed. Any culture with such priorities does not
> have a long life 
> expectancy.  
>  
> FAILED COMMUNITIES AND FORGOTTEN STORIES -  A
> functioning culture is 
> full of communities and stories. But the dominant
> corporate values of 
> our culture are opposed to both. As Wendell Barry
> told the National 
> Trust for Historic Preservation, "Where we are is a
> world dominated by a 
> global economy that places no value whatsoever on
> community or community 
> coherence. In this economy, whose business is to set
> in contention 
> things that belong together, you can no nothing more
> divisive than to 
> assert the claims of community. This puts you
> immediately at odds with 
> powerful people to whom the claims of community mean
> nothing, who ignore 
> the issues of locality, who recognize no neighbors
> and are loyal to no 
> place."
> 
> When developers announced plans for a
> neo-traditional "village" named 
> Frijoles near Santa Fe some years ago, Olivia Tsosie
> wrote in 
> Designer/Builder magazine about the difference
> between a true village 
> and the proposed project: "A village is an
> autonomous social unit, with 
> a reason for existing where it is. . . What is a
> suburb? A dependent 
> social unit with no internal reason for its
> existence. . . Frijoles 
> lacks work, resources, kinship, political or
> religious independence, and 
> cohesion. . .  A village is a not-for-profit,
> organic, open-ended, 
> human-scale social event, which becomes visible in
> its buildings and 
> pathways."
> 
> Try telling that to either your city's planning
> office or the World 
> Trade Organization or even MSNBC. 
> 
> A functioning culture also needs coherent stories.
> The struggle for 
> civil rights, for example, gained new heart and
> substance when the black 
> power movement began telling more stories and
> demanding that they be 
> heard.  But our own culture, as Studs Terkel says,
> has become one of 
> "forgotten stories." We have developed what he calls
> "national 
> Alzheimer's disease."
> 
> LIFE AFTER DEATH 
> 
> Dismal as all this may sound, we need look no
> further than the European 
> Union to realize that while cultures may collapse,
> the life of those in 
> them goes on, absent some more brutal cause such as
> war, disease or 
> genocide. 
> Besides, as Kroeber noted, "Even before they have
> come mainly loose 
> pieces or skeleton, another and younger civilization
> is usually ready to 
> step into their place; or, if there is non such in
> the vicinity, a new 
> civilization may slowly integrate out of the debris
> of its indigenous 
> predecessor." 
> 
> The truly scary possibility - and remember Kroeber
> was writing long 
> before the rise of television or economic
> globalization - is that a 
> "single, essentially uniform, world-wide
> civilization" supplants all the 
> ones of the past: "What then, when the exhausted,
> repetitive stage is 
> reached, and there is no new rival culture to take
> over responsibility 
> and opportunity and start fresh with new values. . .
> ?"
> 
> What is tragic about the disintegration of American
> culture is the 
> promise it held, the freedoms it created, the hope
> it sustained. The 
> single common thread behind the forces that led to
> its collapse was 
> greed: national greed, economic greed, lust for a
> greater audience and 
> so forth. As Jefferson predicted, "They will forget
> themselves, but in 
> the sole faculty of making money, and will never
> think of uniting to 
> effect a due respect for their rights."
> 
> On the other hand, the scattered remnants are still
> there - certainly 
> larger in scale, say, than the early American
> colonies that adopted the 
> Constitution yet still lost in the miasma of the
> paranoid, 
> prevaricating, gluttonous parody of America the
> larger culture has 
> become.  Those who would preserve the better America
> and recreate it 
> from its damaged remains are not naive fools; they
> are the new founding 
> fathers and mothers of a time and place still to
> come. Nor are they 
> fantasizing. Any place, any community, any gathering
> can become what 
> Hakim Bey called a temporary autonomous zone, an
> oasis of freedom, 
> decency and hope, in which a new culture can take
> sprout. Name it, enjoy 
> it, use it. It's the best we have at the moment.  
> 
> As for the rest of America, it is long past time to
> drop the pretense. 
> As I was walking through one of our frightened
> airports I heard the real 
> motto of our land repeated over and over: "Caution,
> the moving walkway 
> is about to end."  It's true. We're on our own now. 
> 
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> 
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>
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> End of prorev@... digest, issue 1029
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