I spent several hours of yesterday in exploration of the landscape of podcasting, and the implications are still reverberating. It occured to me this morning that the closest thing in my own experience was the glorious days of "community broadcasting" at KTAO, which emitted the most eclectic stuff from Los Gatos in the early 1970s. I did a Google search for milam ktao. That's Lorenzo W. Milam --see his Radio Papers: From Krab to Kchu-Essays on the Art and Practice of Radio Transmission (Twenty-Five Years of Community Broadcast) and Original Sex and Broadcasting: A Handbook on Starting a Radio Station for the Community
. Could those halcyon days return?
I've been reading Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and in the third volume I find something that resonates with my own current frame of mind in respect of mass media and especially the News:
Now, most places did not have newspapers... But London had eighteen of them. 'Twas as if the combination in one city of too many printing presses; a bloody and perpetual atmosphere of Party Malice; and an infinite supply of coffee; had combined, in some alchemical sense, to engender a monstrous prodigy, an unstanchable wound that bled Ink and would never heal... At first Daniel found them intolerable. It was as if the Fleet Ditch were being diverted into his lap for half an hour every day. But once he grew accustomed to them, he began to draw a kind of solace from their very vileness... Daniel began to look forward to his daily ink-toilette. Immersion in Bile, a splash of Calumny on the face, and a dab of Slander behind each ear, and he was a new man.
(pp. 48-49 of The System of the World)
The concluding paragraph from Tony Judt's Dreams of Empire ( NYRB 4 Nov 2004):
With our growing income inequities and child poverty; our underperforming schools and disgracefully inadequate health services; our mendacious politicians and crude, partisan media; our suspect voting machines and our gerrymandered congressional districts; our bellicose religiosity and our cult of guns and executions; our cavalier unconcern for institutions, treaties, and laws—our own and other people's: we should not be surprised that America has ceased to be an example to the world. The real tragedy is that we are no longer an example to ourselves. America's born-again president insists that we are engaged in the war of Good against Evil, that American values "are right and true for every person in every society." Perhaps. But the time has come to set aside the Book of Revelation and recall the admonition of the Gospels: For what shall it profit a country if it gain the whole world but lose its own soul?
A nice article [thanks to Ron Nigh for the pointer] by John Crowley (The Happy Place, from Boston Review) reflecting on the republication of the daily Pogo strips, 1948-1960. An essential of their charm and personal significance is their language, and Crowley has it just right:
The constancy of puns and wordplay; the subtle transmogrification of words into unrelated but significant other words that shadow them; the misheard, misremembered, and misspoken—the language not only drives the strips forward but embellishes the corners and backgrounds of panel upon panel with play that is not quite nonsense: Sent under separate cover of darkness . . . Support you in the style to which you are a customer . . . It don’t pay to Tinker for Ever with Chance . . . To corn a phrase . . . Girl of the Limberwurst . . . Never dark on the door again.
...the elaborate and continuous verbal play ...was a constant feature of my own household, and seems to me clearly related not only to innate (or at least highly regarded and rewarded) verbal facility but also to a compulsion to put signifiers in doubt where the signified (sex, say, or money, or religion) is hard to approach directly.
I've been composing my thoughts about the pedagogical uses of blogging for a presentation tomorrow at a lunchtime meeting. For the last month, most of my energies have been directed toward Anthropology of East Asia, and my blogging activities have been concentrated in the class blog environment.