Wednesday, June 24, 2009

how Steven Johnson's seminal book saved my life...

Twice in my life have I done a double-take at a book or magaize for sale. The first time Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity and the 2nd time was Friday at a Publix check out when I saw the Time magazine cover I Tweeted about here. (Seeing Time's cover didn't bowl me over at first site, this isn't a continuation of my long awaited conclusion to the @MarkJoyner bowlbetterology saga, not yet...)

I was skeptical. Who is Steven B. Johnson, the persuasionist, asking me to buy Time. Steven, pardon me, the first thing that went through my mind was a Ben Harper song...

Cosmography begins... "THE DARK AGES STILL REIGN over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear. This Dark Age’s prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built from misinformation. Caught up in a plethora of conditioned reflexes and driven by the human ego, both warden and prisoner attempt meagerly to compete with God. All are intractably skeptical of what they do not understand. We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think."~R. Buckminster Fuller, Cosmography: A Posthumous Scenario for the Future of Humanity. There is a fineline between persuasion and domination and Buckky well addresses these concerns.

"It is not for me to change you. The question is, how can I be of service to you without diminishing your degrees of freedom?" ~R. Buckminster Fuller

Dear Reader,

With a blog titled, "how Steven Johnson's seminal book saved my life..." you knew we were going deep, right? I was startled by the meta-implications of this cover. Time's cover with @stevenBjohnson's Tweet reminded me of Scientific America putting a satellite photo of subscriber's addresses. I had to RT, reTweet as linked above. When I bought the magazine I was connecting where I knew the name Steven Johnson. I have Propper Noun Anomia so this experience is commonplace for me. I felt depressed twice in my life: once at thirteen, again at age 36. While I was not formally diagnosed at either of those times, I got to a space of contemplating suicide and then found myself laughing hysterically. Suddenly I saw myself as silly, taking my thoughts too seriously.

I'm 41 and regularly happy. I didn't grow up happy. I've taught myself how to be happy. I didn't grow up with happy role models. I was born with huge socio-economic advantages: male, white, United States citizen, highly educated Dad and cultured Southern Mom. All the trappings of success. As early as I remember, I had non-stop words in my head. In 1980, when I was twelve, I would test if I always had words going in my head. I set my digital watch's alarm clock without looking, making it as random as i could. EVERY TIME THE ALARM WENT OFF I had words going through my head. <= This might have been noteworthy to some psychologists, and not to our public school shrink. He said everybody is like that. Really? Wow, did that idea take me a while to drop.

When I was 13 I became very isolated. I read Buckminster Fuller's Synergetics on a challenge, and while the book was a challenge for me, I made it through every page. The real difficulty was then finding folks to talk to about synergy. My Dad and Stepmom provided me with more than anyone else at AFSC peace gatherings with folks from Cal Tec and JPL there. From my perspective as a thirteen year-old, on-the-one-hand, few people that were concerned about human's impact on Spaceship Earth appeared skilled leading or managing people. And, when grown-ups would tell me not to worry about it, that strategy didn't work on me no matter how many tried it. At 13, when I was miserable, I was planning to make the world disappear. My mom is psychic and she screamed at me with the full confidence she was reading my mind, which she was, that why didn't I try what Bucky tried, treating the universe as how I wanted it to work. That got me over the first of two very dark moments in my life. The next year was impreoved by my asking myself how I wanted Universe to work. Hormones kicking in helped alot. By 14 I was fuly distracted by impressing girls. I had other distractions, namely in the name of magic and making a name for myself. That was embedded in me young, the importance of making a name for myself. Ego got turned on, and I was virtually always ill-at-ease, I had a voice in my head that wouldn't shut up. I named my voice Bobby as depicted hear.

I didn't find happiness until I was 38. Sure, I glimpsed excitement, and I used to have a noisy head, monkey-mind. Between the words of R. Buckminster Fuller, and how I found Bucky's optimism reinforced by today's leading media theorist Steven Johnson, I have a stable optimistic spirit. Steven Johnson, allowed me to see the optimistic side of Fuller's quote: "Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons." ~R. Buckminster Fuller

I needed to see that Spaceship Earth's trajectory was aligning with pressing needs. I found this sentiment from the first words of Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good For You available on Amazon... "You CAN'T GET much more conventional than the conventional wisdom that kids today would be better off spending more time reading books, and less time zoning out in front of their video games..." read more on Amazon

It's as simple as that. Our youth is developing the right technology, a sophistication that exists outside of the medium through which it receives stimulus. This gives me confidence that potable water for all is on its way. We need drinkable water because there are so many thirsty folks without clean drinking water.

I have helped developed technology that has spread domination. I worked on the report for The Nag Study by Lieberman Research Worldwide as depicted in The Corporation. I haven't always been proud of all my work, until I re-read and could see my work on memetics in a brighter light provided by the lens of Steven B. Johnson. Thank you Steven. The title of this blog is a contrivance and true. You did save my life, because you allowed me to see the development of technology as life affirming. Because of this shift in perception, I don't imagine I will get depressed again, and that's a blessing. Thank you.

I still often feel isolated, and much less so than in my teens. I've been studying memetics and this allows me to see how to better fuel ideas worth spreading. Memetics allows for the study of idea replication. Linguistics limits itself to language. Memetics is broader. Through this lens, I don’t see a difference between magick and marketing, they are both disciplines for increased effectiveness. Writing allows us to externalize intention and reflect and craft our purpose, objectives and values. Writing also reveals the limitation of language--I am not the subject of this sentence—and with this knowledge, more folks can begin to see the silliness of objectivity and perhaps glimpse the possibility that scarcity is also a man-made perspective. I still feel isolated because I see so few folks studying the keys of effectiveness in sustaining ideas worth spreading... I expected I would find like-minded folks in advertising and I didn't. I figured maybe I hadn't got high enough, so I got a Senior Vice President title and invited into upper level meetings. I saw that my perspectives were not only uncommon, but unhealthy to externalize in traditional advertising cultures.

Today, I'm spreading Good Energy... and teaching entrepreneurs how to wag the dog...

“Advertising has become the dominant culture, yet what an irony that we know so much about specific advertisements, so little about advertising as a form of persuasion, and almost nothing about the history of selling. This phenomenon is not limited to consumers. In fact, if you really want to observe the paradox, ask an adman…chances are you will be met with a blank stare.” ~James Twitchell's Twenty Ads That Shook the World: The Century's Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How It Changed Us All

1 comment:

Rick Aster said...

People think they understand technology because they see it depicted in TV commercials. But the commercials are 29 seconds long and the potential that even a very simple technology presents is more expansive than that.