Vivid details of a completely different kind of life

According to Gene Youngblood

The media don’t have to endorse the ‘system’ in any overt way or say anything particularly nice about it at all. Conversely, we don’t have to like or believe anything the media may say – so long as we don’t have access continuously and pervasively to models which describe in detail a completely different kind of life. The only thing that’s not permitted is the possibility of negating this social system by describing another one so completely that we could vividly imagine what life would be like in it, hence to desire it and then, perhaps, to demand it.

(or page 8 here because the one above is missing the last page)

See also the BBC documentary “Century of the Self“.



  1. According to Kurt Cobain

    With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
    Here we are now, entertain us
    I feel stupid and contagious
    Here we are now, entertain us


  2. What an intriguing author! What is/was the CoEvolution Quarterly? I’m especially intrigued because I was just rereading Susan Blackmore’s “The Meme Machine” whose thesis matches Youngblood’s 1st proposition, but does not acknowledge his prior articulation of it.

    I’m both miffed that Youngblood labels as “industrial” the centralized organization of communications, and also in awe of his keen foresight in describing the technologies that have (since this piece was written) actually revolutionized communications.

    “Industry” is an individual virtue that can only be exploited by collectivist social systems up to a rather low threshold. Once it is fully centralized, real industry vanishes and what’s left is maladaptive slave labor camps, serving ever narrower controlling groups until full social collapse is reached. The “Metropolis” -> “1984” meme that Youngblood mentions survives using what Blackmore calls the Truth Trick – some of the major story elements are really True, even if other parts are fabrications.

    Mass media propaganda also applies both the Truth trick and the Beauty trick to dress up its less savory messages. HDTV beauty is achieved through heightened realism; the better to deceive, and the costlier to combat.

    I don’t know whether to agree or disagree with Youngblood’s conclusions, for alas you stopped scanning pages of this article before its end.
    But when he says that “What prevents our frustration from shaping new institutions is the inability to perceive alternatives, resulting in the absence of desire, hence of demand, for those alternatives.” I have to think he’s leading up to a message of hope arising from individual freedom to create and broadcast new memeplexes, and to share brighter visions of individual worth, responsibility, and fulfillment.


  3. According to Daniel Quinn

    What was forgotten in the Great Forgetting was the fact that, before the advent of agriculture and village life, humans had lived in a profoundly different way.


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