Friday, 31 March 2017

Is Your Mind Your Own?

'My own I am at all times and under all circumstances, if I know how to possess myself and do not throw myself away on others.' - Max Stirner, The Ego and His Own

When I say I'm tired of Brexit do I really mean it?
"But surely you can't be 'tired' of something so important? Something that will alter the shape of Britain economically, socially and politically?"
I can.

Does an ant have a mind? I should Google that. Google answers everything. What's more, it weakens our belief in knowledge accumulated long ago to the point where we Google what we think we already know but need the machine to reassure us, just to be on the safe side.

I mention ants in relation to considering the idea that all or most other creatures, like me, inhabit the universe of their minds first and foremost. This strand of thought lead me to contemplate the mole rat too...

...does it have a mind? Surely not. I am stupid to even contemplate such things, I know.


A common expression, yes? Yet one with negative connotations, the suggestion being that to have a mind of one's own is to be stubborn, resistant to influence. The implication being that to not have a mind of one's own is to be well-behaved, perhaps; a good person who is open to...what? Suggestion? Propaganda? 

We were a few days into the news embargo when I started wondering what I had missed. LJ has never been bothered about watching the news on TV. I used to think that was not wise. Now I believe she was right all along. Yet I cannot escape the news. I have, instead, reduced it to a minimum, namely; headlines on the internet when I visit sites such as the BBC or The Guardian. That is quite enough. In this respect, perhaps I have become the kind of modern person I never want to be. That is, the rapid surfer of information, seeing only signals without reading the messages in any depth.

It is almost impossible to avoid the news. I am old enough to remember a time when the news was watched, or read and not seen again. Today, the news is all day every day and users of the internet cannot help but see it, if not through their own choosing, then via shared broadcasts by friends on the social network. 

We are all broadcasters now.

Information is power that has replaced the brawn or brain that ensured survival and respect gained by our ancient ancestors. They used brute strength or knowledge of good hunting grounds. Today we pass on packets of information in order to prove our worth. Someone was early in spreading the news that David Bowie had died. That scored points, even if only on his or her personal card. Someone else was early in posting a news report, either political or tragic. More points. 

To be British and declare a lack of interest in Brexit is sinful in the eyes of many. How can that be possible? It's akin to not voting in the general election! More than that, it suggests a form of...stupidity? One must be politically aware. Knowledge is power! But is it? If I know what the government is doing, will that affect who I vote for next? In other words, if I should disagree with new laws must I vote for another party despite not believing in their ideology either? Should I, in other words, simply swap one set of laws for an equally distasteful one? Let us count the sins of all parties then, weigh them against each other and then decide, shall we? Must we?

I had no intention of discussing party politics. Soon, when the TV news embargo has run for months, I shall be even more unqualified to comment than I am already, except to make general declarations relating to my overriding cynicism. Still, it is said that 'experts' are out of favour. In this respect, I am riding the wave of popular ignorance.

Bees have a 'hive mind'. People do too, it seems. They have several types of hive mind, all battling for supremacy, unlike the bees, whose collective 'thinking' ensures their survival. We, meanwhile, deploy our thinking as a weapon. The news people spoke of a 'divided nation' after the Brexit vote and Trump's election. This is typical media-speak. It wilfully denies reality in favour attention-grabbing, sensationalist headlines. America and Britain have always been divided, between black and white, rich and poor, Democrat, Republican, Left and Right. 

'My own I am at all times'...not an easy claim to make or maintain. We are pressured to conform, even by supposed non-conformists. What could be more sickening than the sight and sound of a 'rebel' or 'radical' browbeating others into thinking the same way? Yet to try to be 'your own person' (as opposed to somebody else's) does rile some people. It strikes them as arrogant, perhaps. Worse still, arrogant and ignorant of the all-important facts as delivered by either fellow hive members or the media.

With that, I shall sign-off,
Yours, In Blissful Ignorance

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