“Blurry’ is not the first documentary to deal with the perils of a rapid ascent to super-stardom. It is the first created by an award-winning filmmaker that deals with fame in the social media age. Paul McCartney was famous, Bono was famous, Kurt Cobain was famous, but none of these icons had 77-million Instagram followers and 40-million YouTube subscribers ready to pounce on everything they said and did.
A Meditation on Happiness Vital Powers. Excellence. Scope. I have always believed that happiness will elude you if you seek it too directly, too face-on. It seems to me that ‘happiness’ is a by-product of meaningful activity, acquired the way the British acquired their Empire - in a fit of absence of mind. Let’s go through the side door and define ‘meaningful activity,’ a somewhat less slippery concept than happiness. My favorite words on this subject come from those ancient Greeks, and they loosely translate as follows, “The Good Life requires the [...]
Is Rock Dead? Or is it just today's Jazz? There is a great deal of online comment on music sites about the “ death of rock/metal music.” (Google “Is rock dead”, you will see what I mean.) Of course, “dead” in this context means marginalized in a mainstream music consumption sense by the domination of hip/hop, pop, and EDM. Much of this commentary contains angst-ridden attacks on contemporary popular music, fulminations on the execrable taste of Gen Zedders, and younger Millennials, and, moaning about what my father would have called with his tongue firmly in his [...]
Consensus in a Post-Truth World What Happens When We Don't Examine Our Opinions? Imagine you’re in the Louvre with your crew. The six of you have fought your way through the politely manic Japanese photographers, and you are all staring at the Mona Lisa. Do you all see the same thing? This question has perplexed philosophers for a very long time. I used to think it didn’t matter much. The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, whose prose style made many graduate students weep bitter tears, tells us that all we have of [...]
Transhumanist Inequity What Happens When the Wealthy Upgrade Mind and Body? I recently wrote a piece about a not-that-distant future in which the majority of us either don’t need to or can’t work for wages -- a world in which we have leisure and will need to figure out what to do with it. I suggested that we start planning for this likely future now, by instituting universal basic income schemes. We will also need to invest massive sums in improving education and strengthening the voluntary and creative sectors. The goal here [...]
The Coming Employment Shift What Happens When Work is Not Needed? I like to think I have a philosophical temperament. What does that mean? Well, among other things, it implies a capacity for detachment, for viewing the daily hustle and the short-term bustle from a distance, the birds-eye view. The Latin term for this is ‘sub specie aeternitatis,’ which means ‘from the aspect of eternity.’ Now I am not a philosopher. If I were, I would be spending most of my time wrestling with the Big Questions. You know, the questions we [...]