Friday, August 5, 2011

because I am recommending Middlemarch

Woo boy. JLW and I have had this discussion frequently. He accuses me of relying on professional critiques way too much. And then I come right back at him by saying he does the same thing. He won’t watch a movie I recommend until he has read a plot synopsis and several ‘credible’ reviews.

But he has a point. The internet with all its information can also taint us, making it more difficult to ‘reach an unbiased and wholly personal verdict’ about books, movies, music, art, etc. It’s the BIG VOICE and I am as guilty as anyone in sometimes listening to it way too much. All the more reason to develop powers of reasoning and mature thinking skills. If we don’t then the BIG VOICE can really diminish us. By making us trust our own judgment and preferences less we become unsure of our own opinions. The BIG VOICE then becomes our voice. Not good.

This then:

There’s an essential freedom in being alone with one’s thoughts, oblivious to and unpolluted by anyone else’s. Diminish that aloneness and we start to doubt our own perspective. Do I really think Blue Bottle coffee is that great? Or Blazing Saddles that funny? Do I really not like that pizza place because it isn’t authentic New York-style? Sure, it’s entirely possible to arrive at one’s own opinion amidst a cacophony of others. But it’s also possible to bend, unknowingly and imperceptibly, toward a position not naturally our own.

Life demands assessment. Indeed, it’s often improved by hearing from the Roger Eberts of the world (or whoever the equivalent is in the Review Your Purchases genre). But we have to watch how much outside assessment we let in. There’s something heartbreaking about surrendering to strangers the delicate moment of giving order to the world. In those instances when we bring our cognitive reasoning to bear on our surroundings, when we aim our singularly human powers of evaluation at a piece of art or a fellow person, it’s a fundamental expression of the self. There are wonderfully democratic and empowering things about an Internet full of anonymous voices. But when those opinions replace our own blundering around for truth, we’re in trouble. Too much charting becomes an unnecessary handrail, too many floodlights along the dark path. I give that only two out of five stars.

Whole article here:

1 comment:

lacy lee said...

This reminds me somehow of the Orson Scott Card short story "Unaccompanied Sonata" about this musically talented boy who was kept locked up in a house so he wouldn't be tainted by other composers. It ends with "The Man" hunting him down and cutting off his fingers so he'll never play again. Do you know what I'm talking about?? It's stuck with me over a decade.

Anyway, the article makes a good point. More blundering, please.