Thursday, March 10, 2011

Predictability and Contentment #2

Think of it like this. Every local radio and television station has its own tag, one dictated by distance from NYC which has the canonical, One True Tag.
The further you drive from NYC the more the tags diverge: the pitches diverge; the tempos shift; the instrumentation changes.
In some dusty little town in Nebraska the result is a terrible cacophony, Gamelan played in a razor wire factory. For you in your Lexus, driving NYC to LA there is a pleasant predictability to all this. You can gauge your travel distance by how horrible the tag is and how you can be content that you won't have to listen to it for too long anyway,
For those who live in those economically broken towns in flyover country the tags are a nightmare. Here predictability breeds not contentment but rage.
Contentment without predictability is more easily understood, at least by some of us, some of the time. Being on a train in Turkey while being resigned to seemingly capricious stops and delays. Being on a plane out of SEATAC that is, unexpectedly, re-routed around Mount Rainier. Hitting an out of tune guitar and discovering a new, to you, chord.
Of course some, or most, of the above are about happiness rather than contentment. Contentment is an intensely personal, low grade, happiness drawn in pastel shades. Contentment is unobserved happiness.
In the above metaphor of radio and television tags contentment without predictability is every station having its own pleasant tag without reference to NYC or its neighbors.
You, again in you Lexus, have pleasing snippets of music to listen to all the way across the country. You have lost predictability but that is a small price to pay if the peasants are content.

Which brings us to the next part of this argument, The ongoing destruction of the middle classes of the Western World.
This can only be achieved successfully if it is done predictably (from the point of view of those doing the destruction). But the middle classes, as now constituted, are too powerful to allow this to happen. They must be kept content, and so predictable as their lives are destroyed., and one important element is distraction. One can distract oneself from the coming foreclosure by mowing the lawn; one can distract oneself from a drug addicted teenager by becoming active in the PTA; one can distract oneself from impending divorce with marriage counseling.
You're doomed. Pretend it isn't happening. Be content with what's happening and with its predictability.
That's why Heath Ledgers Joker (an amoral sociopath, far more violent and repellent that his predecessors) was poplar with audiences and even go a sympathy Oscar (the Academy, once you strip out the top five percent, is solidly midle class)
He wasn't really an anarchist as many reviewers thought. A true anarchist would have been repelled by his predictability.
He was an agent of the unpredictable; he was (very self consciously) Loki; he was a chaos magician.
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