Well, according to my blog host's count, I haven't posted 68 entries to this blog, I've posted 89 (including the last post celebrating my 68th posting milestone.) This is an opportunity I've let slip by. Not having properly celebrated my 68th post, I am now at a loss about how best to celebrate this, my 90th entry.
I had some thoughts about the new Beatles homage movie "Across the Universe" and how the incorporation of song lyrics into our stories and our lives is symptomatic of a culture entering secondary orality, but that's a topic for another day.
I was going to comment on the how the recent excesses of the Republican noise machine regarding a 12-year-old beneficiary of SCHIP coverage illustrates McLuhan's tetrad. In other words, what has been a highly effective propaganda machine has been pushed past its limits until it has reversed into its opposite, that is, anti-propaganda. That also doesn't seem appropriate.
I know. I'll continue my rerun summary of previous posts!
Some of my posts have constituted blatant efforts to circulate new thought memes into the blogosphere in the hopes of coining the next cultural catch phrase and thereby achieve my 15 minutes of fame.
Thus, in my December 13, 2006 post I celebrated the inclusion of a comment I phoned into Air America Radio:
Announcer: The following is an actual call to Air America Radio.
I think we liberals tend to celebrate and then say "OK. We're done. Let's go back to our own private lives." I think we need to be wary of conservatives, or radical conservatives, or fascists. The structures are still there for them to come back. And next time they come back they'll be smarter and they'll have taken into account the mistakes they made this time.
I didn't receive any callbacks after those commercials ran their course, nor did I receive any residuals.
On January 4, 2007 I reissued my 25-year-old claim that the content of television broadcasts conform to a classic structural dichotomy of culture vs. nature (or social vs. anti-social), and having settled that, implied that we move beyond content analysis and criticism to examine the medium itself:
Within this schema, news broadcasts fall somewhere in between shows and ads in terms of entertainment value vs. propaganda, while shows and ads may have little or nothing to do with the objective world, dividing their productions in terms of their intention to entertain or propagandize. (This is not to say that no show ever has propagandistic intentions, or that no advertising executive ever wishes to entertain. But in general, each is more concerned with the demands of his own domain. Program producers must attract an audience, and advertisers must sell their products.)
It could be stated that if the hidden structure of advertising has to do with an opposition between culture and nature on a personal level, then within the other legs of the triad there are other hidden structures that determine how the particular material is developed and conveyed. I would tentatively suggest that television programming is concerned chiefly with "social versus antisocial behavior on an interpersonal level," while the news deals with this same general opposition at the "public" level. Within this perspective, the various legs of the triad always favor the status quo, since the definition of what constitutes antisocial behavior depends on who is defining social or acceptable behavior.
Part of the reason Fox News is so disturbing is that they continually violate the supposed boundaries between news, entertainment and advertising propaganda.This is why the current concentration of media ownership is so pernicious. As part of a major media conglomerate, Fox News can frame their news reports according to their own views of social vs. antisocial public behavior and so they slip down the television triangle both toward propaganda and toward entertainment. Just as foods which are fit for consumption even though "rotten" (alcoholic beverages for example) constitute a special exception to general culinary rules, news which has become propagandized, or created largely to entertain, constitutes a violation of the traditional definition of news and requires adjustments in how we consume reality.
Whoops. There's that Republican noise machine again. For the complete discussion of this, see my paper, "The Savage Mind on Madision Avenue," posted here.
Finally, at least for Part 2 of this series of reruns, there is my attempt to interpret blogging itself in terms of McLuhan's Laws of the Media:
Blogging enhances “many to many” communication. As a medium, blogging allows me to get my message out to many without the need of access to television, radio, print or film production facilities. Blogging also allows me to receive messages from many sources.I think this blogging tetrad holds up pretty well, especially the part about total narcissism.
Blogging obsolesces one to one or many to one communications. Telephone chats and television binges are replaced by blogging connections.
Blogging retrieves the habits of 18th letter correspondents or diarists. Though this varies widely, at the minimum blogging requires that we capture and express our thoughts via the keyboard. Some bloggers go much further than that.
When pushed to an extreme, blogging reverses into total narcissism. I write only to myself, for myself. I put myself into the blogosphere, and seeing my own image, become entranced.
Well, on to Part 3!
UPDATE: My Bad Again!
One of these days I'll figure this blogging stuff out. It seems that I have only published 68 (now 69) blogs, with 22 other drafts in the works. Many of these drafts may never seen the light of day. So in the immortal words of Emily Latella, "Never Mind!"