Mental Grazing or Mental Alertness, Reacting on or Initiating Actions

You cannot imagine how difficult it is to persuade a twenty year old American to get a library card to start reading on her/his own and/or watching not-Hollywoodized films! Well, many young people do use the libraries but either for playing violent video-games or for reading comics, or preparing homework together (using each other as educational props). In this context it doesn’t matter if the young library user is on a pre-college level or with the experience of studying at the University. For the pre-collegers intellectual activity as such (separated from belonging to the existential situation) is perceived as an immediately obvious loss of emotional pleasure – as a kind of punishment, as something like the intervention of the chill of non-existence. You have to be mad to torture yourself like this especially if the paradise of consumerism of things, images and of fun appeals to you from all directions. For the collegers, on the other hand, the intellectual strain is so impregnated by teeth-strained feeling of a nauseating necessity to achieve that it can be tolerated only in exchange for credits, parental pride and peers’ respect and the glaring idea of a future social success and the monetary reward.

In both cases (for pre-college and college kids), intellectual concentration as an experience of freedom, implicit thinking like wanderings of the wind or observing the night stars – is not available, is not discovered. Besides, American young people are very busy. Either they are working to spend near everything on consumption of entertainment, or they are studying to feel that they “earned” the right to dive into the pop-music or in the currents of movies. Very often they work, study, and work at consuming entertainment, and the last part of this “formula” is not less tiring than the first two. It is not surprising that the young are addicted to entertainment – so much of the American culture’s professional intelligence is invested in creation of consumption industry that it easily outsmarts the consumers who are on the receiving end of the high tech entertainment technology and think that they are served while in reality they are serving the industry.

Today’s entertainment technology is constructed to be so psychologically effective that it easily makes Americans, and not only the small and the young, addicted to the pleasure of being creatively and overwhelmingly entertained, a pleasure that surpasses everything life can provide. Consumption of things, images, mood enhancers (drugs) and our own actions suggested by the ideals of entertaining consumption (like playing video-games or participating in sports or in pop-music gala-events) becomes a kind of super-life, something that makes human life as such too boring and even outdated experience. In this kind of hypnotizing consumerism on mass scale everything benefits the active side, the side that plans a certain effects, not the side that just reacts and consumes in mental stupor. Here, may be, the predator/prey metaphor can help us to understand the difference between consumers and consumption entrepreneurs. The prey tries to avoid being caught but it starts to move always after the first move is already made by the predator. The prey is always in a disadvantage. Still, in nature the predator’s role is not too easy. Now let’s imagine that the predator uses the historically accumulated advanced knowledge in how to hunt more effectively while the prey doesn’t have an equivalent knowledge of how to save itself. Here it is a situation when the predator uses expert knowledge in how to lure the prey into buying entertaining artifacts while their prey just exists/breaths, just looks around to react on the most attractive effects to fall for. While predatory entertainer must permanently calculate how to advance its expertise of fooling the prey, the prey lives in a consumerist paradise without feeling how much it is hurt by what gives it such a pleasure.

Today the idea of commercial hunt is developed to such a degree of perfection that hunt doesn’t look like hunt if the prey is not getting an advanced knowledge about the dangers of commercial entertainment and mindless consumerism in general. Today the predator looks like serving the public while prey looks like a free citizen of a democratic state who is being served by the industries oriented on making people happy and enjoying a prosperous life. The addiction to consumption (entertainment industry is only a part of it) is a form of hypnotizing and paralyzing the population that makes the prey happy and position it to “collaborate” with the predator. In other words, the poor are hypnotized by the artificial pseudo-prosperity, are made relaxed grazers of attractive goods by those who are working very hard re-inventing and elaborating the ways of keeping their control over the decision-making to keep the distance in existential competence and income between themselves and masses intact and widening.

The life of rich is not easy – they need to, without pause, calculate very hard how to be able to put the poor into a perfumed sleep, to make them unable to create alternative to rich’s picture of the reality that put them always on the diamond top of social life. Here comes the question of education we started this mini-essay with, again. In US today even to get technical education has become for the poor more and more difficult. But to get a humanistic education to unweave the web of high tech industries’ social behavior is almost impossible. Education is not only accumulation of knowledge and polishing the ability to think logically. The capacity to educate yourself for better understanding of our existential conditions demands a psychological ability for tolerating postponement of pleasure of self-assertion. Education requires the ability to take yourself without megalomania – in your human condition as somebody who needs to study to be able to understand and to know. But the majority of American people today are unconsciously implying that they “are smart enough” to know what life is about without studying about the world and society – history, economy, psychology, sociology and serious art.

That’s why it is so difficult to persuade a young American to get a library card to start his/her own educational adventure. That’s not because these people “are like that”, but because they are made like “that“by a system which studied very well and knows perfectly how to keep the young in an artificial pseudo-paradise to make them unable to sustain and develop democracy.