Visual vs Audible

This distinction was made by Marshall McLuhan – a strange genius that made a big impact back in the Sixties, but has since been forgotten.

As I recall, he posited that we started as auditory beings, talking to each other. With the advent of written language, we changed enormously – and became Civilized, living in large communities. Capable of great good or great evil – often mixed in together.

This makes perfect sense to me – and I have added to it my own observation, that in the 19th Century, all this Development got out of hand. This, I have to say, is my own observation, and has not become popular – because it puts much of what happened from the middle of the 19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century  in an unfavorable light. When we like to put these times in a favorable light.

These troubles began with the American Civil War, WWI, the Depression, WWII – and the Holocaust.

It seems to me that one of the reasons for these problems, was our reliance on visual thinking – when much of our social interaction remains audible. The Nazis, for example, were audible thinkers. As is Trump.

We need both, as I can see easily where I now live, in Costa Rica – in Latin America. The people here are friendly toward other people – a huge contrast to North America, where they are not. But they are not familiar with the concepts of Objective Time and Space – and remain in Subjective Time and Space. And remain poor.

North America remains rich – but these riches are endangered by a social collapse – which is caused, in part, by trying to use visual processes to cope with auditory problems.

This is easily seen in our laws – that keep getting longer (hundreds of pages long) – and less effective. Written laws cannot cope with auditory problems.

Back in the Sixties, I knew a guy who worked for the Congressional Printing Office – that printed the Congressional Record. He and his fellow-workers used to get some good laughs out of the stuff they had to print.

The most important result of our collective audible thinking is our decision  to be either constructive or destructive. This is the fundamental attitude on which everything else depends. Right now, we are self-destructive.

As I am writing this, I am also watching a video Barney Frank and Paul Krugman on Financial Reform. A video, with its subtitles, is both visual and audible – and can be watched anywhere.

This is also true of MOOCs and Webinars – that combine the technology of Television and the Computer, and usually try to make technical and social changes.

Will these powerful new technologies save our ass? No, because the mass of the people are not interested in, and not affected by them.

A social (and economic) collapse with the election of Trump is happening – and is necessary to get rid of the dysfunctional behavior we have become stuck in.

Hopefully, this collapse will not go too far – because recovery from a deep collapse, such as the Fall of the Roman Empire – took  a thousand years. This one will take at least 20 years, however – for a new generation to become disillusioned, and to try some new ideas.


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