Thursday, July 29, 2010

Egypt, Egypt Everywhere: Hey Kids, Atenism!

You know what? There is nothing I can say about this video. I mean, I'm stymied. Just watch it for yourselves.

This show is played regularly on Discovery Kids. There are all sorts of fascinating implications here, though it follows some very well-worn tropes. It reminds me a lot of Mummies Alive!, which we touched on a while back. But it's certainly helping to instill the Tut meme into the more curious young minds out there.

And with the Egyptian government aggressively searching out new revelations, it's a safe bet that you'll be seeing a lot more of this guy...

Of course, Egypt-themed kiddie entertainment is nothing new at all. Here's one of the many depressing playsets kids of my generation had to make do with. This was the post-Viet Nam, pre-Reagan demilitarized GI Joe, with his namby-pamby "Adventure Team."

And where Egypt goes, space travel is soon to follow. Longtime readers take the Egypt/Space link for granted, but its hold on the Unconscious wasn't discussed much in 1970, when the Mummy's Tomb playset and the GI Joe Talking Astronaut were first released. Note the 'Also Sprach Zarathustra' theme, adding a dash of AAT spice to the semiotic gumbo.

For our bonus round, check out Steve Willner's 2007 video tracing the various semiotic pathways springing from the GI Joe cartoon episode, "The Pyramid of Darkness," on his You Tube channel.

Strangely enough that episode opens with a space shuttle launch.

UPDATE: Hot off the presses. Does this perhaps explain all of this Egyptomania? You decide...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Dreaming Mind and the Invisible Hand

Longtime readers know what a huge influence the work of Tracy Twyman had on my own, particularly her trailblazing journal of Western esotericism, Dagobert's Revenge. I'd appeared on a previous podcast of hers, but last we sat down for a two-hour blowout that basically covers our present Theories of Everything. We trade notes on DNA, Magic, Science, the Gods, the Sun, the Symbols, the Mind, the Ego, the Apocalypse, the Will, and of course, The X-Files.

If you're not familiar with Tracy or her work, please take this opportunity to check out her sites, which are jampacked with information that is not only educational but is extremely useful. Tracy is an extremely prolific and lucid researcher and has been looking into the deepness and darkness longer than most people out there, and just plain does it better than most.

Tracy wisely has carved up the discussion into more easily-digestible segments. Which is a good thing, because as we go along we get farther and farther out there. I'm still reeling by just how far we got in the second hour of this talk.

In the first segment, Tracy introduces her listeners to my work and we trace out the origins of the memes and symbols that deal with human origins and the human mind, and how our belief systems shape- and often limit- our perceptions.

So go over to Tracy's site to download the Invisible Hand podcast with part one of this extremely information-dense series.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Richard Dawkins, Ancient Astronaut Theorist?: Part 2

A few months back we looked at a fascinating statement made by Richard Dawkins that went something like this:
"It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably some kind of Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet."
It's a good thing Dawkins chose to utter this heresy in Ben Stein's Expelled documentary, since it's a lead pipe cinch that none of his followers would go anywhere near the film. But an anonymous tipster wrote to me and turned me onto this cheeky bit of naughtiness in Dawkins' bestseller, The God Delusion. In Chapter 5 the professor muses upon the 'cargo cult' phenomenon, which was so crucial in the life and work of Erich Von Daniken:
In The Life of Brian, one of the many things the Monty Python team got right was the extreme rapidity with which a new religious cult can get started. It can spring up almost overnight and then become incorporated into a culture, where it plays a disquietingly dominant role. The 'cargo cults' of Pacific Melanesia and New Guinea provide the most famous real life example.
After recounting how these cults arose out of tribal peoples' contact with advanced technology they had no exposure to, Dawkins starts to get quite cheeky indeed:
The entire history of some of these cults, from initiation to expiry, is wrapped up within living memory. Unlike the cult of Jesus, the origins of which are not reliably attested, we can see the whole course of events laid out before our eyes (and even here, as we shall see, some details are now lost). It is fascinating to guess that the cult of Christianity almost certainly began in very much the same way, and spread initially at the same high speed.
Now, it all undoubtedly slid past his readers, but Dawkins is saying here that Christianity "began the same way" as the cargo cults. Which, as he exhaustively explains in this chapter, arose from native peoples' exposure to superior alien technology (the aliens being Europeans in this context). As he says here:
It seems that in every case the islanders were bowled over by the wondrous possessions of the white immigrants to their islands, including administrators, soldiers and missionaries. They were perhaps the victims of (Arthur C.) Clarke's Third Law, which I quoted in Chapter 2: 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'
Now isn't that a fascinating little juxtaposition? Quoting the author of the the world's most acclaimed Ancient-Astronaut narrative (2001: A Space Odyssey, for those new to all of this) shortly after claiming that the cult of the god-man Jesus "began the same way" as the cargo cults! As Eric Idle once said, "Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Say no more, say no more."

And just in case you missed Richard's inference the first time, he repeats it:
Fourth, the cargo cults are similar, not just to each other but to older religions. Christianity and other ancient religions that have spread worldwide presumably began as local cults like that of John Frum.
The cargo cults which- and I'll state this until the cows come home- began when a primitive people encountered a technologically superior civilization.

After making quite a bit of the cargo cults, Dawkins then writes:
I don't want to make too much of the cargo cults of the South Pacific. But they do provide a fascinating contemporary model for the way religions spring up from almost nothing.
Which, as Richard goes to great pains to explain, were the result of contact with a technologically-superior alien civilization.

What a cheeky little devil, indeed!

Or maybe not. We've already discussed the directed panspermia theories of Francis Crick, and yet another prominent British scientist is wandering off of Randi's Reservation:
One suggestion, by the physicist and cosmologist Paul Davies, is that life might have arrived here from the planet Mars, which was once rather more benign than Earth, being smaller and receiving fewer 'hits' from space debris.
In which case, we are all Martians and should be looking for fossils of our ancient ancestors on the Red Planet.

Davies, whose new book, The Eerie Silence, comprehensively tackles the question of ET, thinks that perhaps a radio search is not the way to go. Maybe, instead, we should look for direct evidence that aliens have visited our neck of the galactic woods in the past.
Which people like Richard Hoagland have been saying for nearly 40 years now. Now, I'm sure there will be those who'll tell me what Dawkins et al really mean, but for now I'll have to be content to go by what they actually said.

UPDATE: And lo and behold the Daily Mail has this article today: "Aliens have been trying to contact us by cosmic Twitter, scientists claim." Thanks to Reader David.

SYNC LOG UPDATE: Dawkins appears at The Amazing Meeting this week in Las Vegas (basic admission: $425). The writer opens his piece with some odd non-sequiturs about hot-tubs, Greek philosophers and bathhouses. Somewhere, Eric Idle is smiling.

Which reminds me, I wonder when Randi will bring the TA!M to Jersey...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Dog Days: The Hits Just Keep On Coming (UPDATED 7/20)

NOTE: Scroll down for updates

Well, the Sun is blazing all across the globe. It's summer- the Dog Days- and the symbols are flying like grackles in the grove. It seems like I'm doing a lot of these posts recently, but you gotta fish when they're bitin'.

That blue and gold Sol there is from a story in the UK press- the British company is paying off illegal immigrants at Calais to go back home. I guess wages have been driven down enough - for the time being, at least.

Speaking of which, Scottsdale, Arizona is responding to the controversy against the recent immigration legislation in that state by undertaking a charm offensive to lure tourists back. We looked at one of their Solar icons recently- here's another stunner.

And strangely enough we see the blue and gold appear in the immigration context again, as well as a well-disguised 17. Speaking of well-disguised, that design on that hat vaguely reminds me of a square and compass.
Of course, aliens from slightly more exotic locales are on people's minds recently, particularly after the mass sightings in China. But we're seeing strange machines all over the globe, and now this disturbing story of an anomalous contraction in the Thermosphere. A freak of nature or a show of force? I report, you decide.

The recent cancellation of the Constellation program got me reading The Rainbow Conspiracy by Brad and Sherry Steiger- whispers about humans being banned from space are very old, it turns out. Take that for whatever it's worth.
Of course, we're hearing that these Dog Days are the doggiest in several years, so make sure you keep your pooches cool. CNN celebrated the Dog Days by picking a canine rescue group as their CNN Hero of the Week...

...or should I say Heru? The Restoration Revelation took a strange turn when an ancient statuette of Horus the Child was found in the English countryside, of all places. Turns out it was found at an old Roman village being excavated.

Speaking of restorations. Mona Lisa is back in the news. I know there was a bit in The Da Vinci Code about Mona Lisa being a cipher for 'Amon L'Isa', but that's not even the original title of the painting. So, sorry Brown fans.Da Vinci isn't the only Renaissance master in the Restoration Revelation these days. Caravaggio- who we talked about in the Alien Dreaming series a while back- is too, since a lost San Lorenzo canvas he did surfaced recently. Bonus factoid: Lorenzo was a particular favorite of the Knights Templar.

The 17 meme is popping up quite a bit in the news these days, often in unfortunate contexts like this. Which makes a terrible kind of sense, since the earliest use of it seems to be the 3/17 death date of Osiris.

Tina Brown's Daily Beast site is big on the 17 meme- you see a lot of Top 17 this or 17 that there. And the 17 President makes his obligatory appearance.

The big story in tech this summer are the problems with the new iPhone's antenna and call-dropping. Which brings us to this iconic image of the Apple Stargate, which is used to test the antenna (just don't ask me how),

Will this allow the Droid (Druid?) to take a big chunk of the iPhone's market share? Maybe, but that image there is enough to prevent me from investing in one.

But every dog has his day. Especially in the Dog Days...

UPDATES: Oh, dear. It just never ends. This one courtesy of an eagle-eyed reader.

And here's a nice juxtaposition- the recently discovered moon tunnels and the extremely un-newsworthy Snoop Dogg. Perfect.

Speaking of un-newsworthy, here's a nice blast of disinfo from Yahoo. I may be essentially agnostic on crop circles, but considerably less so on spin control propaganda techniques. Like this nonsense recycling the old canard that all crop circles are the work of a couple old boozers from Blighty. It's blatant chicanery like this that causes my agnosticism on the topic to waver a bit. One day I need to do a "top 10 spin control techniques the media applies to the UFO topic" post.
And there you go. The Vatican's latest PR disaster stems from its announcement that ordaining women is the moral equivalent of child rape. For once I'm speechless.

Secret Sun readers always come through...
...or do they? Who didn't tell me that Christiano Ronaldo used to be #17?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Exegesis: Individuation vs. the Mass Mind

Jung very rarely spoke on politics and when he did so it was always in the context of the individuation of the Psyche and the threat that the reductive powers of the Mass Mind presented to that process. The narrator in this video is reading Jung's writing on the topic.

One way to determine if a regime has become tyrannical is if it continues relying on those mass displays or creating a panic based on some existential threat once it has taken power- the more amorphous and elusive the better. This is designed to maintain that militant atmosphere of the revolutionary period, which inevitably suppresses Individuation. The Mullahs in Iran are the best example of this, as were the neoconservatives in the Bush Era.

The problem is that we are constantly being bombarded with so many existential threats from so many competing power structures that it becomes impossible to discern what is signal amid all of the noise, which can lead to a genuine collective threat being ignored because it can't be politicized into a sectarian agenda.

The other part of the process is the demonization of individualism, choice and dissent as a threat to the safety of the group. Subsequently, minority or opposing beliefs of any kind- political, religious, even cultural or lifestyle choices- are demonized.

And those most connected to the autonomous powers of the Unconscious are always first to be oppressed in witch-hunts, whether religious or secular. These people are always seen as a threat to authority, which is able to manipulate the peasant mind (whose fear of Master always compels them to fight Master's enemies under the guise of some overarching cosmic struggle) into seeing these individuals as demons. Again, something that continues on today.

As gross mismanagement of resources and the economy continues to create pre-conditions for mass crisis, the short term outlook for Individuation isn't very positive. But it's these same times that test the viability of the the concept of Individuation itself, which could ultimately force a greater integration of the Conscious and the Unconscious- and a revolutionary breathrough for the powers of the human mind. But as Individuation is usually conflated with selfishness or narcissism, the short term prospects of that aren't very sunny right now.

You can't turn on the news without seeing a giant march or demonstration somewhere in the world. But these events are designed and stage-managed to suppress opposition both within and without the group. It's always a thrilling, empowering moment for the marchers but more often than not leads to a hardening orthodoxy that suppresses the individual and individualism itself. And these types of movements eventually feed on themselves.

There are times for collective action- but a demand for perpetual individual submission to corporatizing authority has always been the primary cause of human misery in this world.

Here Jung briefly explains his break with Freud, precisely over the primacy of the Unconscious. Freud was an authoritarian, and thus saw the unconscious as a dumping ground for the conscious mind. Jung saw the Unconscious as essentially autonomous, as well as the driving force of the Psyche.

It's not always an easy process, but one can often boil down complex philosophical conflicts to simple- and yes archetypal- components. Freud's distrust of Individuation with all its messiness and nasty side effects- speaks to how he saw personhood itself. It's no wonder then that Freudianism was so dominant for so long in psychotherapeutic circles until the insurance companies stepped in and replaced talking cures with Prozac...

SYNC LOG UPDATE: This is amusing- my horoscope for today: The world needs people who are not afraid to speak their minds, even if it means taking on the powers that be. In short, the world needs you. Just because an opinion is seen as the consensus view does not make it right.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Alien Dreaming Addenda: Don't Pay the Ferryman

In our last installment, I mentioned how I've watched I Want to Believe about 40 times (give or take) and found some new easter egg each time. Well, shortly after writing that I took another pass at the film, and lo and behold, found more hidden symbolism. And this stuff is quite juicy....

In this shot we see Janke (our Hades stand-in) pulling out of a parking lot followed by three barking Rottweilers. Now we know Janke has a multi-headed dog, so here we are seeing Hades again in his chariot, with the three dogs standing in for Cerberus, the three-headed dog who stands at the gate of the Underworld.

UPDATE: Reader Jim made a fascinating connection between this visual- a representation of Cerberus and a "UP" gas station and this article about the BP disaster. Very interesting indeed.

Janke picked up a prescription for an animal tranquilizer here, which links us to theories about the descent to the underworld motif. Persephone was picking narcissus flowers when Hades first saw her, which have narcotic properties.

As Janke drives off we see three ravens (a common symbol of death) fly ahead of him. But Carter may well be referencing Poe here, linking again to Hades/Pluto: 'Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'/Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

But keep an eye on that chap on the street there....

Just as we saw the visual link between Scully and the dog in the hospital, we see this very quick visual juxtaposition, a hooded (and hollow-eyed, thanks to his quite unnecessary sunglasses) man standing and Mulder sitting in his car.

A familiar visual arrangement seen in depictions of Charon, the ferryman to the Underworld...

...who is often seen in contemporary depictions as a hooded figure with a skull for a head, or sometimes as a blind man.

This motif is germane since Mulder takes on his traditional role as Osiris and is tricked and trapped by Janke, who then "murders" him on the road/river.

Immediately after Mulder's "death" we see Carter himself clutching a very canopic-looking funerary urn (containing the ashes of his dog, who died during the film's production). Symbolically-speaking, this shot doubles up, since it also identifies Scully with Isis, via the 'Dog Star'.

This is now the sequence where we see DNA Scully crowned with the Amanita Muscaria Grail of Light, similar to that of Isis-Aphrodite. She realizes Mulder is in the Underworld, signaled by the photos of the two-headed dogs (three heads might have seemed too obvious).

Again, we see her explicitly identified as the Mater Dolorosa, and here we see an analog of Isis casting spells to raise Mulder from the dead...

... with this double-entendre. We see Mulder's sarcophagus, and shortly after...

....he rises from the dead as Osiris-Dionysus-Orpheus, descending to the Underworld to rescue Cheryl-Semele-Eurydice, and where he also encounters his anima, the dismembered Monica.

What does it mean? Well, I'm not sure, but just like that Sirius-soaked Cleopatra exhibit in Phila(e)delphia, it all seems to point to DNA and the mysteries it holds. The X-Files was the first place I heard of junk DNA, something that Intervention Theorists are focused on as well.

But at the same time the theme of the film comes from Huston Smith and the Billy Connolly character was inspired by Alan Watts. Both men were pioneers in the field of entheogenic theory, and mushroom motifs are all over the place in the film.

But one thing that I do realize about The X-Files was that the point is not wrap things up in a simple bow (ie., close the door) but to create a kind of disoriented state in which the viewer is encouraged to provide his or her own interpretations (meaning to open the door). We'll not being seeing that kind of daring on network TV again soon.

But maybe at this stage in the game all we can do is keep that door open. There is no doubt in my mind that information is being kept from us on any number of vitally important topics pertaining to human origins and our place in the Universe.

And as frustrating as it is, I'd say a good question is much better for you than a crummy answer.

POSTSCRIPT: I was just reading a critical work on The X-Files, which has its extremely frustrating moments in that the writer didn't understand the Mythology at all. I mean at all. Now, there was a stretch in the Mytharc- from 'Nisei' to 'Redux II' (and excepting 'Tempus Fugit/Max') where I didn't really understand it either. But after watching the episodes in order I realized that they were chapters, not episodes.

This all started right at the time episodes of The X-Files were being released on home video and Chris and Frank knew that the whole series would be released at some point (The X-Files was the first TV show to be be released on DVD). I later realized that they were experimenting with the storytelling format, though they seemed to judge the experiment a failure and returned to more tightly-focused Myth eps with 'Patient X' (and forget most of the season nine Mythology, since they obviously thought they were finally finished with it for good at the end of season eight).

But the point is that the author obviously realizes that Chris was a determined envelope-pusher (see Triangle, Post-Modern Prometheus, Improbable, etc. etc.) but didn't bother to rewatch the Myth eps in order and realize that A., they do all fit together and B., they're not confusing at all when you watch them that way. Like too many fans the author also didn't realize that a lot of the problems that people complain about in the series were down to network decisions.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Greatest American Heru

The Greatest American Hero aired during my punk rock social realism period, where the only TV show I can remember watching was Hill Street Blues. Oh, and that episode of Quincy, ME (old school punks know what I'm talking about). I might have been vaguely aware of the UFO connection in the series but it wasn't enough to catch my interest, given how camp the show is. Mind you, this is before the irony thing caught on.

But I certainly wouldn't have been able to make sense of the bizarre parade of memes this particular episode throws out at us. The first thing I did when Reader Deb brought this ep to my attention was run to my copy of Bruce Rux's Hollywood vs The Aliens, only to discover this ep seems to have escaped his notice as well (Bruce, if you're out there- dig in).

Well, I'm not going to spoil the surprises this show has in store for you. You might want to rewatch Hancock and re-read my posts on the film (of course) at some point to help decode what's being presented here. But I will mention that Hero was a Stephen Cannell show, and most of the producers on the Vancouver-era X-Files were old Cannell hands (X-Files/Breaking Bad producer Vince Gilligan is the credited writer on Hancock, though I'm sure that film had a thousand guys working on the script).

In any event, this all shows us that whatever we've been seeing in pop culture lately isn't exactly new.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Sirius Rising: Greece, Egypt and the New Rome (UPDATE)

Poster art for the Cleopatra show. Kind of says it all, no?

Took a road trip yesterday to Phila(e)delphia to see the Cleopatra show, which was a bit of a letdown after the Tut extravaganza. If Zahi is being a bit miserly with the goodies found at Alexandria and Heraklion, the show more than made up for it in serving up the semiotic booty, particularly pertaining to the Sirius and Phoenix memes. We also saw the Mummies IMAX film, which was gorgeous but should be retitled Mummies: The Search for Annunaki DNA.

I'm not even half-kidding.

For my money, the real action has always been in the collision between the Greeks and the Egyptians in the wake of Alexander's conquest. Certainly that's where the Alchemical and Hermetic traditions took root, and many would argue Christianity as well. Alexandria gave rise to the greatest experiment in self-conscious syncretism, at least before Constantine. Cleopatra herself is the absolute embodiment of this ideal, though certainly the Greeks and Egyptians started god-swapping well before she hit the scene.

I've also been working on a post looking at the Egyptianizing of kids' entertainment (it's titled "Get 'Em While They're Young"). And sure enough there was a pack of kids at the exhibit gathered around a TV monitor showing the Delta Cycle in cartoon form, with Osiris and Horus in full-blown superhero mode. They showed the scattering of Osiris' body parts, sans one trenchant detail.

So what's this all about then? Well, I walked out of the Franklin Institute thinking only of three things: D, N and A. More on that later.

Here's a stunner for you. Apparently there was a package deal with this and the Cleopatra show. But if you're not in the Philae area, there's a walk-through online here. I think another roadtrip is in order. Those of us who've studied the Roman Empire are left breathless every day, just by reading the headlines. And these are the kinds of exhibitions that serve more as oracles than anything else.


UPDATE: You can't make this stuff up Dept.- Thanks to Reader Deb.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reality Programming

When I was in high school I was dead serious about my art career, especially in my senior year. Since my guidance counselor was an idiot I had to take it upon myself to carve out my career path. I had a business card of an illustrator in Boston and I pestered him in an attempt to land an apprentice gig. He lived in the North End, in what was becoming a chic neighborhood. He was also a former Navy SEAL who served in Viet Nam. But he didn't take on airs and put up with me until I got the hint. But I'll never forget what he told me one Saturday afternoon as we looked out his picture window at the fashionable set beneath us. He said "these people all act like they're being filmed."

Meaning no one acts in a genuine fashion when they know a camera is on them.

'Reality Television' is a grotesque misnomer. It's one of those viruses that has inserted itself into our culture and shows no sign of abating. It's changing the way people act, even when they themselves aren't on camera, especially young people.

Life is boring, there's no way of getting around it. And most of the people who volunteer to appear on reality shows are idiots, or at the very least exhibitionists. And since the human condition itself is boring and the people on these shows are boring by default, they are encouraged by the camera to become unbearable drama queens, inflating every possible mundane conflict into the sinking of the Titanic. Reality game shows like Big Brother and Survivor are the worst offenders, and they also encourage a kind of moronic Machiavellanism, a pissy, backbiting pose in which the individual's need to win this absurd competition is elevated over every human virtue known.

Another despicable show is Hoarders, in which camera crews swoop in on deeply-troubled individuals and pretend that by two or three days of sorting of and disposing all of their junk that the longstanding issues (often from trauma) will leave the premises as well. And again, because the cameras are on, the poor, humiliated hoarders will go along with whatever the ghoulish therapist (who is also hamming it up for the folks back home) is advising. And I'll bet you dollars-to-donuts that every single one of those people will end up more damaged and more miserable than they were before the film crews showed up.

The point here is that reality TV is programming people. I'll see young people in stores acting as if they're on camera, as if they all imagine that some invisible reality crew is recording their incredibly fascinating life. And pretty soon there is no wall of separation between what is on television and what is in people's inner paradigms. But nothing is happening. It's not documentarianism we're talking about. Most of it's not Alaskan deep sea fishermen or ER trauma nurses are being recorded. It's boring people flailing away under the flimsiest of pretexts, feeling they don't need to achieve anything to get themselves noticed. Their inborn charm is enough to fascinate us all.

But the gamesmanship is the most pernicious part of it all. The Weakest Link was a moral disaster in this regard, in that losers could vote the winner out, simply because they felt threatened. Luckily that abortion has been flushed.

I remember seeing a foreshadowing of this in Sunday school, with a series of well-produced films that featured Hollywood actors in short morality plays. One episode had a game show in which the contestants were finally presented with a handgun and a jackpot- they would win it all if they could bring themselves to kill the person they loved most. I always think of that film whenever Survivor crosses my attention.

Life is boring. It's something we all need to deal with. But life becomes even more boring when the hyperstimulation of pointless drama wears off (and boredom can often become deadly when drastic measures are taken to alleviate it). But there's a even deeper issue here- how these shows are programming reality by changing the way people think and behave. When you combine reality TV and video surveillance you have an even more toxic brew. The constant media racket and the lack of reflection is probably how the Borg started off, in that Alan Moore-type parallel reality where the Borg really exist.

How close are we to that reality? 20 years ago only surgeons and lawyers had cell phones. Now we see everyone on them, all of the time. It's funny- back in the old days I could tell I was facing a schizophrenic when I saw someone talking to themselves (which I did a lot when I was working in Midtown in the pre-Giuliani days), now it's always just someone on a Bluetooth. I still get a twinge of caution- only very slight- when I encounter that. But the younger generations are constantly mediated, in almost constant communication. It is the Borg, kinder, gentler, whatever.

Bad in and of itself? I'm not sure yet. Situations like this can become unbearable, leading to a backlash. But outside of the comics field (natural stomping grounds for the young and marginal) I'm not seeing an explosion of creativity among today's youth. I see talent and facility but no one shaking the trees of complacency, and certainly Hollywood and the record industry are gagging for lack of ideas. On the plus side I do like the recent revival of unison singing, but then again that's due to the success of an old-fashioned non-reality show, Glee.

The jury is still out on how this will all play out. But I'll bet that any young person doing anything of value isn't watching a lot of reality television.