MINDSPEAK.COM Mission – Jan 2011
The following is an attempt at a mission statement for MINDSPEAK.COM
Music purely to entertain holds little interest for me. This is why it is difficult for me to justify the pursuit of a traditional career path in the music business – if there is such a thing as “traditional” anymore. The music business (and it is a business) tends to have a preoccupation with youth, superficiality and artifice, particularly in the US. Much of what makes music fun and interesting is swept to the side in the competitiveness, posturing, marketing and polishing that takes place in the modern musical arena. Having no interest in those things, my musical path has been – by default – much more difficult to follow, sub-industrial, though much more personally rewarding.
Parallel with my interest in music, there has always been an interest in social movements, religious conflicts and the general insanity of the human condition. Despite our great technical achievements, we seem doomed to repeat mistakes generation after generation. In my own lifetime, these mistakes culminated in the attacks of Sept 11, 2001, and continue year after year.
In order to understand and relate to these events, I’ve sought training in the areas of technology, communication and rhetorical analysis. My (ongoing) quest is to better understand the tools and techniques being used on the general public. That education is never-ending, but it is hard to say I found any real answers. I suppose if there were clear answers, someone would have found them by now.
It is clear to me that the general public is more misguided than ever despite increased availability of information (or maybe because of it). Repetition of “facts” often leads to broad strokes of judgment that cause more harm than good. Ideas are touted as “proven” when any scientist will tell you we can “prove” very little – if anything – definitively. The average person in the developed world now has more computing power in the palm of their hand than some nations had a decade ago. And still, many in the developing world go hungry. There seems to be a breakdown in how we think, how we acquire knowledge, and how we set priorities.
When I was attending Penn State working on my Associate degree, I met a girl in freshman orientation. She was puzzled when she saw me reading Plato (we hadn’t yet been assigned classes, that was just my everyday reading at the time.) She seemed to think there was no value in studying the Greek philosophers. To paraphrase what she said to me, “Well, all of that was proven wrong long ago.” Exactly what she meant by “that” I never quite understood. How it was proven wrong was never quite clear either. She offered no intelligent explanation.
It seemed rather arrogant to think that the ideas of such thinkers were somehow outdated just because we had now become “modernized”. So later, during my social influence and persuasion courses when working on my BA, it was satisfying to see that indeed – all of those thinkers were still being studied. It was also apparent that their ideas were just as important as ever because technology had now shortened the time it took for ideas large and small to go around the planet and impact large groups of people.
Experience and observation seem to indicate the lack of a middle ground where logic (logos), emotion (pathos) and credibility (ethos) are being fostered. All too often, the stage is tilted toward one of these. So called “experts” make claims that have little logic but appeal to people’s emotions. Emotional speakers with lacking credibility likewise make illogical appeals. Overly-logical and cold speakers – even if credible – do not look at the bigger picture and include the emotional response.
Emotions run high, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to question the views of those in power, or the views of the majority. Even history – normally a valuable teacher – is not safe, as the very storyline is constantly shifting with new interpretations and censorship. For this reason, it seems we must begin to look at things even more objectively. Should we not acknowledge what works in our most successful societies and what does not – as demonstrated by our well being as human beings? Can we at least pass on that information to the next generation with the hope that the tools will not be corrupted?
This site will feature topics that I find interesting, based on media reports and things I come across in the general course of life (books, web, movies, etc). The idea here is to identify common themes, deconstruct them and then juxtapose them against each other to see where ideas are taking us.