mm424: I, for one, feel smarter every day…

June 29, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Spotted a couple of references (most recently and indirectly at Arts & Letters Daily) to a most thought-provoking article in the Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr, regarding the perhaps crippling effect of Internet use on the intellect.

atlantic

Is Google Making Us Stupid?

What the Internet is doing to our brains

by Nicholas Carr |  July/August 2008 Atlantic Monthly

“Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”

I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

So I’ve noticed through the years that my ability, or even interest, to focus for extended lengths of time on a book had diminished. I have attributed this mostly to the natural effects of my alacritously advancing age. But maybe there’s more going on.

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mm306: The rare commercial message

March 5, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

We don’t do a lot of selling here at Left-Handed Complement; just as well. My entire adult life has been spent proving repeatedly that yr (justifiably) humble svt is absolutely justified to have abject humility when it comes to his ability to sell.

Thus, when we make the rare exception, it’s usually for a good reason.

A close friend of a close friend is publishing a new study of America in the time of Richard Nixon. I’ve seen a pre-production copy, and it’s the real deal.

If you treasure the memory of David Halberstam, you will absolutely cherish Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,” to be published in May, and available for pre-order at Amazon.com.

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mm277: 20th Century classical music is 100 years old – and we haven’t learned to listen to it!

February 6, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

On MUDGE’s recent, grotesquely obnoxiously huge birthday (let us suggest that no candles were placed on the figurative birthday cake, since nobody could figure out how to find a cake large enough to accommodate the grotesquely obnoxiously huge number of candles required), my lovely children gifted me with a book that seems intriguing. The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century by Alex Ross is next up, kids, I promise.

They know (and you might, faithful reader from posts like this one and especially here) of my general interest in serious (classical) music, and my mature years dismay (as a youngster I toyed with appreciating it as kids toy with lots of stuff they ultimately outgrow) with what has happened to it in the past 100 years or so.

Well now I feel especially guilty that I haven’t hit the Ross book yet. The late David Halberstam’s Korean War epic, The Coldest Winter, is currently nibbled at [confound it, this newfangled blogging thing has bitten voraciously into book reading time!], and as it is borrowed from a coworker, has priority.

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