Sunday, October 2, 2011

Wolken Cuck-Cucks Heim

German is a language of compound words, so it should be “Wolkencuckcucksheim.” They can really turn a phrase, those Fritzes, it means “Cloud Coo-Coo Land,” and it’s where someone is said to be living if they have obviously forsaken ordinary reality.

Well, that’s where we live now, isn’t it? Every day the news is chock-a-block full of “Welcome to Cloud Coo-Coo Land!” The un-reported, underlying reality is no better. It’s not just the clear, self-destructive lunacy of politicians and bankers the world over; it’s not only the total, abject failure of all of society’s mechanisms to keep up with exponential leaps of science and technology; it’s not just the willingness of ordinary people to abandon reason in ways that impoverish them and reduce their freedoms. It’s everything, simultaneously, everywhere.

Perhaps it was ever thus. Maybe I, and many others my age, are just getting cranky and demanding. Most generations throughout history have reached a point where they began to believe that what they thought they knew had somehow gone horribly wrong. Where have those good old days gone? And what’s the matter with kids today? Is that what’s happening now? The normal process of a generation achieving understanding and wrongly interpreting the meaning of it all? Unfortunately, I think not. It looks like these times of ours are in many ways unique. Unique rapid technological growth, quickly adopted; rapid integration of a global economy; amazing scientific advances.

Okay, so now we’re leaving the “old world” behind every eighteen to twenty-four months, but where did all the craziness come in? The whole world now is rushing forward like a hot rod with a powerful engine, bad shocks, bald tires and lousy brakes, which is fun while the wind is in your hair but oh, so tragic when it all inevitably goes wrong.

Blame the Internet, partly. These days, everyone, almost everyone, has the illusion that they are well informed. The Internet makes people think that they are smart too, because what they read is so self-reinforcing. This gives everyone the right to have an opinion about everything, opinions based on that illusion of well informed intelligence. These opinions are often block-headed. Blaming the Internet is too simple, though, so maybe it’s something in the water. That would be a great irony, if the new crazy were caused by the fluoride in the water, if it were caused by the one bit of right-wing paranoia from the 50’s and 60’s that has not been adopted hook, line and sinker by our new right-wing paranoids.

So, my friends! Wilkommen zum Wolkencuckcucksheim! Welcome to the dream world (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!). Around and around it goes, where it stops, no one knows. I hope that we can cool down this hot rod without too much damage being done in the interim.

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