Cyberpunk Review » The Unwillingness to Think for Ourselves

January 14, 2009

The Unwillingness to Think for Ourselves

Source: The Student Operated Press (SOP)

A little something to tweak your brain. One thing I like about cyberpunk is how it makes you think about how technology is taking over our lives, and what good or harm that does. Consider this little essay a subtle hint about the “harm” part.

Actually, it’s about the author’s preference of Faulkner over Hemingway; A rejection of media-for-the-masses in favor of more intellectual fare, and why this may have saved his brain from mutating into sheeple-think:

We didn`t know it then, but the age of instant gratification and horse-race criticism was aborning. From there on fiction would be adjudged by whether it was a page-turner or a beach read. The best-seller list would reflect not literary quality but marketing expertise.

So, how does this relate to cyberpunk? This op-ed piece seems to touch on two cyberpunk themes: Control over society, and access to information. You control the information, you control what the sheeple think, and therefore, you control the society. You REALLY think that all those national firewalls and “filters” going up is to combat porn and piracy?

What happens to a society that can’t think for itself?

Clarity and forward motion would become buzz words for an underlying unwillingness to embark on the adventure that Proust`s marvelous powers of observation posed, just as the Republican Southern Strategy of the 1960s was actually a buzz term for license to keep on hating and oppressing. It was assumed that Crane had tied a mass of knots that were not worth untying, whereas in fact he had pressed the language into service for a voyage, much like fitting a spaceship. The critics were licensing the public to dumb down. The marketers were supplanting the editors. Such a society was bound sooner or later to accept a George W. Bush or Dick Cheney as leaders, because it had given up its intellectual future without a whimper.

We have allowed taste-making apparatchiks to turn literature into a horse race in which someone has to win and someone has to lose, a fundamentally silly idea. The winners of course will be the worst books, the worst minds, and, it goes without saying, the most venal.

Still need a clue? Check this post called “SHEEPLE” things we LOVE because we can’t think for ourselves.

This is mass-media on your brain. Any Questions?

Cyberpunk, the cure for non-functional brains. Fortunately for us, cyberpunk has managed to stay out of the mass-media spotlight enough to not be co-opted into a propaganda brain-cell killer, though not from the lack of trying. Despite Time Magazine’s best efforts in 1993, cyberpunk survived the limelight and remained mostly underground. This kept the genre vital and interesting to inspire newer generations of CP fans and artists.

So next time you feel your brain-cells being anesthetized by mass-media, reach for a cyberpunk book, movie, or CD, and reboot your brain.

This post has been filed under Internet Find, Essays by Mr. Roboto.


January 14, 2009

Illogic said:

I’ve found a channel in YouTube with some videos you might find interesting:
Especially the one about television is quite enlightening.

tgchan said:

Nice read!

lol I am not watching TV for 2years already >:D since I have my own room with pc.

Justin D-Z said:

Media speed has an important effect on controlling brain contents as well. The faster the media moves, the less time it can spend on details. This lends itself to cursory analysis, sensationalism, sound bites and other things which gloss over the complexity of life. This can be useful for winning arguments and defeating arguments, but it generally empowers people who can’t or don’t want to tackle complexity (politicians being one archetype) to have a more prominent role than they would if challenged on a deeper level to be thorough and make sense.

KBlack said:

Cool picture there Roboto. Good article also.

Diligent Ape said:

Lewis Shiner might disagree with you in “cyberpunk has managed to stay out of the mass-media spotlight enough to not be co-opted into a propaganda brain-cell killer”.

Although a somewhat ‘old’ essay he states in “Inside the Movement: Past, Present, and Future” that back then was splitting up into two: cyberpunk and sci-fiberpunk. The latter of these proposes that “technology can fill [the] void”[1]. In other words, Lewis Shiner saw the sci-fiberpunk part as having a naïve position regarding the future.

In an Interview with William Gibson, Gibson says that he regards the cyberpunk term is “mainly a marketing strategy”[2].

But some 16 years have gone to pass since these things were said about the cyberpunk genre. I don’t think it is wrong to conclude that cyberpunk has again become a (somewhat) underground movement. This being said, cyberpunk still holds a central position within the sci-fi community. It will be interesting to see where modern cyberpunk TV-series such as “Fringe” will head.

I think the long and the short of what I’m getting at simply is that cyberpunk may yet be re-commodified. Cyberpunk has a relevance that very little sci-fi has. It is easier for a contemporary audience to relate to than, say, space opera, because it does not hold the same naïvity regarding technology as liberating and developing of the human species. These qualities may be lead to a re-popularization of the genre and there is a very real risk that what’s picked up by publishers and other outlets will be Cyberpunk neglecting its prominent suffix.

But there will always be hope, there will always be an underground producing counter-culture material.

1: Published in “Fiction 2000″ [1992]
2: Larry McCaffery “An Interview with William Gibson”, published in “Storming the Reality Studio” [1993]

January 15, 2009

enys said:

A very nice pic… can we get a sauce?

The cure for all ills related to neural degeneration is negative entropy.
The only known source of negative entropy is contained in the fictional world of Manmachine. Why? Because Manmachine is the only cyperpunk, science fiction comic written by a neuroscientist.
Okay, sorry for the attitude. I love these posts and this site.
Am serious about the negative entropy though.

January 22, 2009

0m1kr0n said:

Looks like they have all the flavors of kool-aid covered there.

Hmmm. Particularly worrisome is the introduction of data from “cognitive and affective neuroscience” to help guide advertising, entertainment, etc.

Fortunately, the quality of science in these fields is on average so astoundingly low, that many of the conclusions are invalid. However, one can expect more attempts at indirect mind control based on experiments that use eye tracking and fMRI data to ‘figure out’ the attention of the consumer.

January 29, 2009


You guys ought to read Heidegger’s A Question Concerning Technology.

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