Culture as the New Counterculture

For years I have been saying that paying attention to life, to the things that matter to us as friends, family members and citizens has become a counter-cultural activity in the age of distraction. Here is an commencement speech from New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier that explores that notion.

via The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas at The University of Texas.


We live in a society inebriated by technology, and happily, even giddily governed by the values of utility, speed, efficiency, and convenience...

The machines to which we have become enslaved, all of them quite astonishing, represent the greatest assault on human attention ever devised: they are engines of mental and spiritual dispersal, which make us wider only by making us less deep. There are thinkers, reputable ones if you can believe it, who proclaim that the exponential growth in computational ability will soon take us beyond the finitude of our bodies and our minds so that, as one of them puts it, there will no longer be any difference between human and machine. La Mettrie lives in Silicon Valley. This, of course, is not an apotheosis of the human but an abolition of the human; but Google is very excited by it.