05 Sep Quest For Quietude
Since the invention of the printing press, mass media has changed human consciousness and in the Information Age this evolution continues at an exponential rate of acceleration. This transformation is not invisible. Many are so plugged into mass media consciousness that “addiction” develops, complete with neuroses and withdrawal symptoms.
How has human consciousness changed as a result of mass media? Well, we know that television opens the subconscious mind like a dilated pupil, inducing a trance which dissolves the subjective experience of “I” and replaces it with a blending of consciousness with all others who are “tuned” in. Likewise, the internet takes this dissolution of subjectivity and creates an accessible notion of unity in which all knowledge is simultaneously present.
The concept of the individual, developed during the Renaissance and so beloved by the West is fading away.
In this book, McLuhan looks at all media, from print to electric light to radio and television, as mediums of communication which forever changed the way humans relate to one another and their environment. In his Playboy interview from 1969, McLuhan said, “ …all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment.” McLuhan makes it clear that attempting to judge the messages of mass media (television, internet) based upon literary categories of narrative analysis “offers no dues to the magic of these media or to their subliminal charge.” (p.27)
In short, McLuhan understood that the narrative content of mass media matters very little. Qualitative judgements based on morality and narrative content comes from the literary mindset of individualism and nationalism born from the Gutenberg printing press in the 16th century. The individual experience of reading a book to one’s self-created a unique subjectivity which television and the internet are eroding. The zeitgeist of mass communications is more akin to archaic theories of panpsychism and universal mind. The impact of the medium is on our thought processes and the way it changes our perceptions.
Now here’s where we encounter the dark waters. Upon human consciousness, mass media transposes virtual reality over sensual reality and it is easy to become lost in a bardo filled with the apparitions of salesmen and the hungry ghosts who follow them.
It plays out as the grand tragedy of literary subjectivity searching for identity in a place where no individual mind exists. Confusion is the leading side effect. Those who direct the programming of these mediums of communication take advantage of the confusion and fill these subliminally charged communions with embedded ideologies.(aka culture) It is not a conspiracy theory to note that only corporate interests are heavily represented and that those interests are malicious in that they seek to divide people and inculcate them with fear. Advertising is always about selling desire and self-doubt: that is all.
Though culture itself is a mass hallucination perpetrated through the language of the establishment, that realization does not excuse one from partaking in evolving consciousness. The reproductive power of the hallucination of Western culture is rooted in mass media, for it is only through imposing mass control through homogenized ideology that millions of people can be lost in the same fantasy. But all is not lost because the human spirit always lies in wait just beneath any nefarious confinement, poised for escape into freedom, creativity, and love. If one becomes lost in utter nihilism, then suddenly one is well suited to the role of the psychopomp who guides people from the land of illusory cultural programming to the shore of self-realization.
It has been my experience that meditation, art, energy healing, entheogenic substances and/or devoted contemplation all have the power to allow the user to shed their cultural branding but retain collective consciousness. (There are many versions of these pathways. Find out what means something to you or create something new!) Deep exploration of inner space allows people to free themselves from the imprisonment of hierarchy, and feel their potential once again as they are reborn as a sovereign being: pain is released, beauty is beheld, and art pours out.
One of the first skins that must be shed is any moral agenda which prevents a person from exploring their own consciousness. i.e. nonsensical drug laws, religious prohibitions etc… To put it simply, I love what the great writer and poet Maya Angelou said before she died on May 28th, 2014. She posted a final statement on Twitter in her usual poignant manner, saying “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” In conclusion: On the quest to know ourselves, let’s listen in the quietude of inner space, use media to commune with the collective on our own terms, and evolve!
<3 Aeolian Heart <3