Although this should be properly termed the Popular Culture Age rather than the Information Age, since all the available constructed technology orients toward sleek, populist refractions, there are still some bizarre pockets of high culture monomania that assay the entirety of advanced civilization, such as Iain MaGilchrist’s The Master and the Emissary. When other children were smacking each other around in recess and racing home to watch Hollywood’s id cavalcade, MacGilchrist was evidently kidnaped by his parents, taken to a remote grotto, and force-fed only the choicest ancient high classical sources and art gewgaws. He emerges to become some sort of psychologist, able to read neurobiology in the original pig scientese, but retains a soft spot for believer-style religio-nuttery.
Are we mired in a left-brain malaise, evident in our art, our politics, our mechanistic consumerism? MacGilchrist marshals all sorts of footnoted evidence betraying a life snuffed out in pedantic devotion to try to rescue a turn toward the allegedly right-brained hare-brained idylls of creative religious reverie, but the formulation is off, at the beginning and despite the besotted junk-heaps of high culture MacGilchrist pulls in his ox-cart train.
We are fated to know a little, or more than a little but less than a passable fluency, about a lot – especially in this age, especially this amalgamated enterprise known as Fun Social Nihilism. No one, in humanity, traverse the high and the low with such dashing alacrity as the unknown, virtually unknown consortium of thinker-doers as FSN, but there is always the fate of ignorance and unknowing awaiting the know-it-alls.
To be “stupid,” however, is to engage in willful neglect of the available evidence. The next generation will fashion alternative standards of knowledge, and adjudge us “stupid,” collectively, for willfully ignoring many viable, clear sociological truths. In defense of ourselves, however, we should plead that we are all tied to our social reality, and that there will be, perforce, oceans of knowledge and insight that future generations, should they survive the looming climate-connected holocausts, will construct.
To disabuse people, of opinions that contradict the best accessible evidence is virtually impossible, and by that standard Fun Social Nihilism is another proud, vanishing exemplar of human cognitive futility. Because of the peculiar strain religious virus that took over the US and A, otherwise gifted thinkers and monks, such as MacGilchrist, such as spiritualists like Barbara Ehrenreich, are drawn into the errant, stupefied orbit of religo-speak. Because of the peculiar strain of economic idiocy that has also penetrated the American social reality, otherwise humanistic upright apes avow militaristic, poor-bashing, environment-destroying CNN lies and omissions. This sociological illiteracy is “stupid,” but it persists with breath-taking, tsunamic power, because this virus, like all the other social viruses, grows in power as it conquers institutions along with people.