Friday, 6 March 2015

"Jean, how are you relating to Mildred?"

Horizon magazine, Spring 1970.  Lots of good stuff in this one.

From the lead article, The Flight From Reason:

"In the past three or four years, embracing everything from A to Zen, a significant number of Americans have entered upon a headlong flight from reason, a mass retreat into mysticism, superstition, occultism, the unreality of drugs, irrationality, anti-rationality, and para-rationality in a myriad of forms, up to and including the installation in one of the White House offices of an "executive sandbox" in which Presidential aides could relax by reverting to mindless childhood play.  In the delicate human balance between sanity and madness, madness seems to be gaining the upper hand."

Examples cited are Woodstock, conceptual art (Impossible Art and Nihilworks in particular), astrology, witchcraft and something called "sensitivity training" (from which the title of this post is taken).

Note in the contents up there: "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler.  It's actually a follow-up to the article in which he coined the phrase, which was also published in Horizon, in 1965.  The gist is 'looks like I was right, and it's gonna get even worse':

"It has become clear that rising levels of novelty and diversity in the environment are compounding the intense adaptive difficulties inherent in the accelerative thrust.  In short we are creating an environment so filled with astonishments, twists, reversals, eruptions, mind-jangling crises and innovations as to test the limits of man's adaptive capability.  We are setting the stage for future shock on a vast scale.  In so doing we are threatening the future of rationality itself."

Sounds like recent talk of the effects of the web on our brains, dunnit?

(Ooh, and Kusama up there is THE Kusama - Yayoi Kusama.  Japan's most successful living artist, according to the BBC).

1 comment:

  1. "Accelerative thrust" c.f. the modish philosophy school known as accelerationism.

    the more one checks out discourse of recent decades, the more one realises that it's the same anxieties and alarmisms reiterated with slightly different inflections.

    So for instance just this week came across a chap whose 1991 book about the "saturated self" is making many of the same points about informational fatigue, paralysed by choice, new structures of flexibilised identity, etc that digiculture jeremiahs are making currently.

    but this 1991 chap whose name escapes me is himself reiterating points made by Toffler etc. which were probably being voiced in the Fifties too by your JB Priestley types.

    i think even Nicholas Carr author of the Shallow concedes that people were complaining only 50 years after Gutenberg that there were too books to read, feel overloaded