Friday, May 24, 2013

Re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re: re:

"It's amazing to me that no one much talks about ... the fact that whatever our founders and framers thought of as a literate, informed citizenry can no longer exist, at least not without a whole new modern degree of subcontracting and dependence packed into what we mean by 'informed.' Hence, by the way, the seduction of partisan dogma. You can drown in dogmatism now, too―radio, Internet, cable, commercial and scholarly print―but this kind of drowning is much like sweet release. Whether hard right or new left or whatever, the seduction and mentality are the same. You don't have to feel confused or inundated or ignorant. You don't even have to think, for you already Know, and whatever you choose to learn confirms what you know. This dogmatic lockstep is not the kind of inevitable dependence I'm talking about―or rather it's only the most extreme and frightened form of that dependence.

"Part of our emergency is that it's so tempting to do this sort of thing now, to retreat to narrow arrogance, pre-formed positions, rigid filters, the 'moral clarity' of the immature. The alternative is dealing with massive, high-entropy amounts of info and ambiguity and conflict and flux; it's continually discovering new areas of personal ignorance and delusion.

"It may possibly be that acuity and taste in choosing which Deciders one submits to is now the real measure of informed adulthood." ―DFW

1 comment:

Tyler said...

This is a somewhat scrambled excerpt from Wallace's intro to The Best American Essays of 2007. The line beginning with "Hence" is a footnote in his piece, the last line in my post comes before the other two in his original, and a lot of writing between the three excerpts has been removed.

Wallace follows the final line in my post with: "Since I was raised with more traditional, Enlightenment-era criteria, this possibility strikes me as consumerist and scary ... to which the counterargument would be, again, that the alternatives are literally abysmal."