John Boehner and I share a problem: we don’t fit our own demographic anymore. The Pope told him to get out, or maybe it was more like setting him free in a way that served certain political interests. They say that the Repubs who are intractable have tried to get rid of him for a long time. No wonder he pulls a cry face. I wish him well. I think the Pope simply realized how miserable he was.
As a result of the resignation, they say it’s more possible that the government won't shut down again and this time not even pay out Social Security. (I noted that my bank seems to be bracing for that possibility.) For me and a lot of other people around here, that would be a catastrophe, but for those who are already prosperous and thinking like the retro-Texans they really are, it will be considered a deserved punishment for people who refuse to admit what deadbeats they are: sick, homebound, useless old people. What good are they? They’re not OUR families. Get rid of all outliers: they’re inefficient.
Along with other “cost saving measures” as the CEO’s say, I personally have ended my posts at Medium.com, a platform for writers that is based in San Francisco. Actually, I was just reposting what I’d already written for this blog (prairiemary.blogspot.com) but once in a while I’d do something a little more “edgy” and put it on Medium.
The first truth from my point of view is that since it’s a “young” startup, it still had strange features that didn’t quite work. The more serious problem was cultural: the focus was on the technicalities of the code. Code was what they wrote, not narrative print. The majority of them are coming from other cultures so that their dominant shared mode in this country is the tech world that accepts all code languages and, inevitably, code values. They are the values of the factory: reliable, uncomplaining, productive, cheerful, round-the-clock.
I asked to be removed in early evening last night. In spite of getting a message saying that I should not try to interact with them except 9 to 5, M to F, Pacific time, a techie responded at 1:30AM, evidently working from home on his own schedule. He did not say he WOULD remove me, but only that he COULD. I think he was afraid to make a decision until he consulted with his masters. His only caveat was that I would lose all the writing I’d posted. Right. That’s why I print out anything I value, which is not necessarily very much.
The writers themselves are grouped by organizing into “domains” and by the practices of the techies, who supply the “tags” that “will let more people find you.” Aside from dumb automated tags (every time I write about Indians they tag it “vacation” or “travel”) there are all sorts of other gizmos: the usual hearts, thumbs, and comments, but also provision for long responses (except that I can never figure out where they going to be put -- in my writing path or the other person’s writing) and for high-lighting the parts they like or differ from. (One of mine really hit the spot with one reader -- he high-lighted the whole darn thing! But no comments. Was it objection or endorsement?)
There’s a little two-step at the point of completion: do you want it to be seen by only your friends (which is a dangerous idea in a world where everybody always sees everything eventually -- something politicians are slow to realize) or by the general public? The second step is what rights you reserve, which indulges the fantasy that you can do such a thing, since everyone pirates everything. But it does offer Creative Commons as a choice, which I think is a good idea, if ineffective.
After that, if your post is re-blogged or admired by someone, a little reminder goes out to the email of that someone’s “friends” who are really commenters and up-thumbers. The idea that is encouraged is like-grouped-with-like, a school of fish, “groupers.” That is, mer-persons resembling shepherd dogs who want to gather and sort everything. (“Let’s get this party organized!”)
“We” want to be predictable. No surprises. We do not want to be rebuked; we are faultless. And we are entitled, because we are techies and computers are no mystery to us -- therefore we understand the universe. At least a gaming type universe with algorithms, Sim City. We don’t do rural -- too messy. Only peasants there. It’s all very Seventh Grade, when adolescence begins, maybe because entering puberty is quite like entering a strange country with an uncertain culture. Or coming from one, namely Suburbia.
The content is a different story. Now anything goes -- “we’re not kids anymore” (But they still sounds like kids to me) so we can talk about our suicide attempts, our failures at gauging sexual hookups, and a lot of menacing mood pieces about emo weather. What a great time for those people right now! Everyone on pills, standing in the rain, staring at the window of the Beloved One.
There seems to be a fantasy that this platform is like an MFA class, basically Seinfeld. That people will help each other develop by correcting their grammar and composition structure. A few take this seriously, the same ones who write long letters of advice for their younger siblings. "You must double-space," said one. "Post a more cheerful photo," advised another. One man in England who was organizing a “domain” invited me to join. He admitted that I would probably be the one providing help, not the receiver. I declined. I’ve done that for years. No more.
The writers pursue the topics popular in magazines, but I do not see the loose and energetic prose of the zines. Mixing it up with Manhattan Slid-Yiddish words, Black ghetto inventions of metaphor, Brit rhyming slang, captured sub-Spanish dialect, words truncated to type with thumbs, and -- hey, don’t the Chinese do slang? No no no. Proper English.
I joined Medium and Aeon (briefly) at about the same time and it was soon obvious how different they are. Medium was for ambitious writers who valued conformity and didn’t quite have a grasp on the humanities. Aeon was for snobs who could produce vids, but specifically for the ones who wanted to preserve what they took to be basic premises: that there is a God, so it only remains to define Him; that such a thing as genius exists and ought to be given privilege; that deep science (once it’s translated into a charming video) is a proper subject for educated people. (I agree with that last one.)
Earlier in my life -- I’m surprised to realize as long ago as twenty years (1995??!!) -- my denomination changed out from under me -- though it’s explicitly based on the inclusion of everyone. Partly it was undone by political correctness, which assumes that if you use the right words no one will notice that you secretly despise some category of humans, and partly it was the assumption of entitlement on the part of the younger people: that there was no need for them to take a turn at the boring stuff (setting up chairs) and they were overqualified for things like making the budget sensible. Luckily Blacks are taking up the slack. They know where the power is.
But the more universal and penetrating problem has been that traditional assumptions about the nature of the real world have dispersed. Nothing is solid now. A human being is a flowing, transforming set of processes. A planet has a mind of its own and can simply wipe us out. If electricity (power) stopped existing tomorrow, all our fancy extensions of communication, travel and commerce would be dead. We couldn't buy a cup of coffee or pump a gallon of gas.
And maybe most importantly, human beings “in the aggregate” have a kind of group mind that responds like a whole school of fish or flock of birds that can turn inside out, swerve sharply, or simply drop out of the sky. Gone. No reason we can think of. What we do now might have some impact, but we’ve already had a big part in making this world intractable.