Are we designed to know as much every day as we do? By which I mean - is the knowing of multiple things all at once good for mankind’s thriving?Francis Christian’s Essays is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I really needed this today, thank you Dr. Christian. I've seen a big change in my personality the past few years when I have never consumed more news or information - especially bad news.
Today, I broke away from anxious, information consuming and played a beautiful collection of worship hymns and songs. And now, I'm heading out to a local car show/festival to see many people out and about, enjoying each other and life. I will print this piece today and keep it handy as I endeavour to renew my mind and break away from toxic to my joie de vivre dark media gluttony.
I've never been a news reader, watcher or listener. Occasionally, T.V./radio news would be in the background, at the airport, etc., and I would get so annoyed. I always wondered how anyone could bear listening to them as they were so obviously false. Like nails on the chalkboard.
I also like when Jesus said " Do not be anxious for tomorrow. Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the days own troubles be sufficient unto the day". What stunning words. Amen.
Thank you Dr. Christian for always sharing your thoughts and wisdom. I haven’t trusted mainstream news for a long time but 3.5 years ago I stopped watching even small pieces of it.
Beautifully articulated, Francis, and you appear to be describing what Daniel Boorstin called “pseudo-events,” which he says overcomplicate experience (as opposed to propaganda, which oversimplifies it).
In his 1962 book, “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America,” he writes:
“These pseudo-events which flood our consciousness must be distinguished from propaganda. The two do have some characteristics in common. But our peculiar problems come from the fact that pseudo-events are in some respects the opposite of the propaganda which rules totalitarian countries. Propaganda—as prescribed, say, by Hitler in Mein Kampf—is information intentionally biased. Its effect depends primarily on its emotional appeal. While a pseudo-event is an ambiguous truth, propaganda is an appealing falsehood. Pseudo-events thrive on our honest desire to be informed, to have ‘all the facts,’ and even to have more facts than there really are. But propaganda feeds on our willingness to be inflamed. Pseudo-events appeal to our duty to be educated, propaganda appeals to our desire to be aroused. While propaganda substitutes opinion for facts, pseudo-events are synthetic facts which move people indirectly, by providing the ‘factual’ basis on which they are supposed to make up their minds. Propaganda moves them directly by explicitly making judgments for them.
“In a totalitarian society, where people are flooded by purposeful lies, the real facts are of course misrepresented, but the representation itself is not ambiguous. The propaganda lie is asserted as if it were true. Its object is to lead people to believe that the truth is simpler, more intelligible, than it really is. ‘Now the purpose of propaganda,’ Hitler explained, ‘is not continually to produce interesting changes for a few blasé little masters, but to convince; that means, to convince the masses. The masses, however, with their inertia, always need a certain time before they are ready even to notice a thing, and they will lend their memories only to the thousandfold repetition of the most simple ideas.’ But in our society, pseudo-events make simple facts seem more subtle, more ambiguous, and more speculative than they really are. Propaganda oversimplifies experience, pseudo-events overcomplicate it.”
I was told my great-grandmother in Poland used to say that without newspapers, there would be no war. That was before she herself was murdered in WW2.
I can't help but think that one of the more sinister purposes of ubiquitous "News" is the severance of information from agency, and that this severance ultimately becomes a population scale paralysis. First, we are convinced and indeed trained to think that information, in and of itself, equals awareness ( or insight or discernment) and that the more information we "consume" the more aware we become - which is supposed to be a good thing. After all, who wants to be ignorant and inadequately informed?
At some point the barrage becomes white noise, a pyroclastic flow of "information", utterly inimical to sense-making. Could it be that there is an intentional Big -"A" Agenda to subvert and destroy the making of meaning? After all, we are meaning-makers. We attempt to "make sense" of the world and what happens in it. Could this Agenda be contributing to the mass confusion, bewilderment and existential vertigo we are seeing all around us?
"Pigs fly to the moon on regular schedules to pick up fresh cheese for earthlings, Experts say..."
“It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. And only yesterday […] it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it."
On another somewhat tangential note : has anyone noticed or written about the way in which our mediated perception environment has become generously sprinkled with militarized languaging?
As I look back over my shoulder at the last three years of reality inversion (subversion?) I can't help but think of terms like "truth-bomb", "bombshell", "explosive" revelations or testimonies of various sorts, "rollouts" of not just "jabs" but various and sundry new-normal "realities" that we are supposed to numbly and unquestionably accept.
Years ago, I read Jacques Ellul's seminal tome "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes", published in French in 1962, and later translated into English. I find it astounding that he had such insights long before the cybernetic medusa and the 500 channel universe penetrated our collective cognitive cabinets (aka brainpans!).
Here is an exemplary quote from the book that we would all do well to reflect upon:
Thank you so much; I need to ponder this.
Thank you for this lovely essay- we do need to be reminded of Jesus words in this world gone crazy- only in him do we find the rest our souls so need.
Yes, thank you for sharing all this . Reminds me of 2 Timothy 3:7 and the declarative statement of Proverbs 1:7. The distractions, traps, vices, choices of this world are so many. Matthew 11:28-30 and John 8:31&32