Highlights from Walter Kirn's Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture
Post date: Mar 06, 2017 4:21:35 AM
Essayist and novelist Walter Kirn, Jim Rogers Contrarian Lecture, Black Mountain Institute at Doc Rando Hall, in the Lee and Thomas Beam Music Center, UNLV, 02/23/17
I am by nature against anything. What's an elite? I define it this way: a group of people, often quite well educated, who truly think they're better than anyone else but are too polite to say so except to those who happen to agree.
The most popular of these fake stories garnered more shares, likes, and other interactions than the most-read real political articles of the left-leaning fifteen news outlets combined. That's a fact. You can look it up on Buzzfeed. (laughter)
Seekers of public office and producers of filthy videos face a common challenge: how to keep audiences with a product that tends to, over time, make numb. Pornographers solved this problem by continuing to intensify the weirdness of their imagery. Politicians, the smart ones, do something similar. Trump could shock. Nor did he worry about consistency.
Big story of convention: a real estate magnate was about to secure nomination of a political party, ushering in what many people feel was a new era of neo-fascist rule, and yet all CNN and Fox could talk about was verbal pilferage by his trophy wife.
News took radical turn toward bizarre. PizzaGate: evidence was appearance of supposed code words, much of it based on Podetta's association with avant-garde performance artist.
It's all a click away, the true and false, real and ridiculous, Washington Post and Infowars, and they're all next door to one another, saints and sinners, cardinals and crooks.
In the real world, the cost of deception is real harm: people shun you, they often punch you, but on Internet they can't find you.
Let's trust ourselves instead of offloading responsibility of separating fact and fiction on computers and cable networks, let's focus on refining our own judgement. Let's rely on our instincts, not someone else's algorithms and remember that the Web based global village, like every village, is overflowing with gossip: there's not much to see in a small town, but you sure hear a lot.
Fiction provides us something that even real news sometimes can't: perspective, news that stays news. Sinclair Lewis's "It Can'tHappen Here" from 1935 is more relevant now than ever.