A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
Here and abroad on the internet, I've had a series of experiences that, taken singly, are easy to dismiss, but in aggregate are just so... odd. What makes me take the trouble to write about this is that recently I encountered what must be the extreme of what, through experience, has emerged as a reliable pattern of conduct and human nature, this time turning and crumpling in upon itself.
You see, I write on other forums than this, about things of which I care. One site is called 'Hell Descent', and is devoted to survival-horror gaming (I'm a huge 'Silent Hill' geek), and another is the discussion threads on the financial site 'Marketwatch'.
Now, whether or not you care about these things, or regard my interests as stupid, trivial, meritorious, or downright evil, isn't the point, and you're free, of course, to hold any opinion you wish. What is the point, however, is that this pattern of behavior is powerfully apparent in all of these quite disparate forums, including this one.
I'm sure that all reading this will immediately recognize the phenomenon, I being of no special insight about these things: This is simply the tendency of people to want approval and to be surrounded by like-minded fellows. They may call discussion threads that, but I fail to see how any forum can realize the full useful potential of interaction when all around one are yes-men. In fact, such an inherent yearning to me appears dangerous, because nobody's perfect (including, of course, me). Think of all the leaders of whatever, back to antiquity, who were steered off a cliff because their advisors simply reflected their own opinions back at them with fawning obsequy.
We all know the 'forbidden', explosive subjects: religion, sex, politics, race. I've come to expect blowback, oftentimes as vicious as the poster can make it, when I answer my conscience publicly on such subjects. They do, after all, feel intensely about the aforementioned, and their aggressive defense of their opinions is expected. And should I ever broach such subjects with artworks in my gallery I would expect--at the least--lively debate.
Here's what I didn't expect: Someone (whom I will not name, because this is a muse about a phenomenon, not an attack on an individual), put up political posters--agitprop I believe they called them-- that I happened to agree strongly with. These works were also extremely expertly done, and made their points effectively. The theme of these works was that the rights and welfare of Americans were being suborned by some in their midst who were doing so for the advance of selfish interests at the expense of the great majority. And among the subordination of rights was that of freedom of expression, including restriction of the Internet, and using same to gather information on the conversations of citizens.
But here's the odd thing. The gallery owner had, as a policy, this: There was to be NO political discussion on their site. When I pointed out the (to me) apparent contradiction of this, calling it hypocritical, because their works extolled freedom of expression, and totalitarian, because I thought their policy sought to restrict freedom of ideas, I was told that what I was doing was the equivalent of walking into a private 'dinner party' where the door had been 'left open' and disturbing the 'bonhomie' of the event, and that I had been 'refuted'. (I could almost hear 'Voila!' LOL)
Huh? Someone who expects the internet to be unrestricted and fears the NSA spying on them through same expects--while on the web--the physical privacy of the home? The truth--to me, anyway--is the internet is, for a host of practical reasons, which I suspect are grounded in the development of hardware and software (I'm no computer scientist), necessarily a public forum. And putting up 'agitprop' where anyone surfing this site may see it is the equivalent of standing in the town square with a megaphone, not backslapping one's dearest friends in a private soiree. How does someone so aware of the freedom of the web and the baleful potential of it's restriction not see this?
Huh? Someone who puts up artworks that are intended to be incendiary in defense of rights deemed by them to be critical to a healthy democracy has a policy restricting those rights? And a fear of the very discussion that they know their work will surely elicit? And that those works seek to defend?
A true ouroboros, this one, a snake eating its own tail; and the ultimate expression I've seen thus far of the capacity of the need for approval degrading reason and taking precedence over merit.
Yes, I'm certainly aware: that's their gallery on Deviantart and they're free to do whatever they want. I'm not trying to change them by argument, regarding such a purpose as naive and futile. I do think, however, that it's just so utterly strange that so obviously sophisticated a person as that gallery's owner can have their reason so (to me) derailed--indeed blinded--and the impact and merit of their work damaged by what is apparently the simple need to be liked, and among the like-minded.
Ultimately, one thing occurs: The observation by Dostoyevsky in 'The Brothers Karamazov', which now stands, to me, approved: "Most people, at heart, are simple and childlike, even the wicked".
Unfortunately, nothing about that bodes well for the future of democracy, or my trust in the capacity of human nature to answer the calls of reason and conscience. *Sigh*... Stranger and stranger...
Listening to: SH 3 OST
Reading: stock charts
Watching: Borderlands walkthrough