Brooks, Larison, gadget fads

Daniel Larison, spot-on, as always, commenting on David Brooks’ “Lord of the Memes”, from the 7 August edition of the New York Times

I know David Brooks can’t really be serious when he says things like this, but this is at least the second grand pronouncement this week* and it’s getting out of hand:

But on or about June 29, 2007, human character changed [bold mine-DL]. That, of course, was the release date of the first iPhone.

No, human character did not change. One thing that has been consistent and recognizable throughout every stage of competing for status and gadget-collecting is the enduring human temptation to fall prey to the latest fad.

If that one line from Daniel suffices not to convince you of the sheer hyperbole of Brooks’ pronouncement, the argument he continues in the full piece should do the trick. I do, however, believe that Brooks makes a sadly accurate assessment, one revealing the tragic truth of Daniel’s remark, later in the piece:

Today, Kindle can change the world, but nobody expects much from a mere novel. The brain overshadows the mind. Design overshadows art.

I fear that, rather than suggesting, as Brooks avers, that human character has changed, this further evinces that, for too long, human character simply has glided, too comfortably, in a wretched state of intellectual and cultural degeneration; embracing the ultra-sleek medium, rather than the message, is just a recent, particularly distressing manifestation of ultra-philistinism. If luck smiles upon us, mayhap, someday, the electronic devices will even think and work for us.


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