Class 35: The Great Stereopticon, Session 2 – the Radio
You can listen to a podcast of this class at https://www.spreaker.com/user/youngfaithradio/orthodox-survival-course-class-35
Today we shall will continue to talk about the current, ongoing Luciferian project of the global elite, to “redefine” humanity, or, rather, to “create” a “new kind of human being” through various means, a deformed human being – a “zombie” – they can manipulate and control. We are now on the sub-topic of the communications media; in our last class, we discussed the newspapers, and today we shall speak about the radio.
A. Survival Reality Check – Remember last week’s little to-do list (end of notes for Class 34)? How did you do? Let’s review them:
1. Limit your media. For example, turn all media devices off by 8 PM and read books until it’s time for your night prayers. That’s right: read books. They still exist! Get the family together and read to each other. Try it; you will like it.
2. Do not engage in constant chatter or arguments about the latest manufactured controversy dramatized in the media. We must develop a way of looking at life sub specie aeternitatis, from the viewpoint of eternity. The Orthodox mind sees everything in perspective, from the viewpoint of the entirety of history and with the purpose of history in mind, which is an eternal purpose. We always remember that the sovereign God is in charge, that He loves us, and that He is working out His purpose in history. This makes us serene and confident, so that we can take meaningful, conscious action and not just react to stimuli like Pavlov’s dogs. Remember that all of these daily “news dramas” are phony; they are the shadow puppet show that keeps you in the cave. Reality is much bigger.
3. Spend real time with the real people around you and do the limited real good you can do for them. The person next to you is so much more important than a politician or a movie star or a pro athlete or a TV commentator! Shut off the devices and talk. Get to know your neighbors. For that matter, get to know your family! Spend as much time in the real world as possible.
B. A great quote sent by a listener: I have been gratified recently by the response to my recent appeal to listeners to contribute to our effort, not only by their financial help, but also by their comments and contributions to our course content. In this regard: A long distance parishioner of mine just this week sent me this quote from Fr. Justin Popovich, which he saw on Facebook, in which Fr. Justin’s words dovetail perfectly with the Orthodox interpretation of the last thousand years of Western Christian history that we have been presenting in our course: “The melancholic Slav prophets alone foretold the fall of Europe (the West) before the First World War. After the war, even some Europeans (Westerners) began to be aware of this. The boldest and most frank of them was, undoubtedly, Spengler, who alarmed the world after the First World War with his book, Untergang des Abdenlandes (The Fall of the West). He shows, by all the means provided by European (Western) science, philosophy, politics, technology, art, and religion, that the West is falling to its destruction. It has, since the First World War, been in its death rattle. Western, or Faustian, culture, according to Spengler, began int he 10th century after Christ and is now decaying and falling apart, and will disappear completely by the end of the 22nd century. European (Western) culture concludes Spengler, will be succeeded by the culture of Dostoevsky, of Orthodoxy.” That’s all we have: I don’t know from which talk or article of Fr. Justin this is taken from, and I don’t know where to find this opinion in Spengler’s work, about Orthodox culture replacing Western European culture. If anyone can help me locate this quote in Fr. Justin Popovich’s work, and locate where Spengler says this in Fall of the West, I would appreciate it. But it is fascinating that Spengler would have had this opinion, which concurs, quite independently, with Sorokin’s model, which predicts that the current Sensate culture will end and be replaced by an Ideational culture, which, if it is to be Christian, could only be an Orthodox culture.
C. An addendum to Class 34 – A followup to our discussion about the newspaper. This week I was re-reading an article from the September 2018 issue of Chronicles magazine, entitled “The Battle for America’s Mind” by Pedro L. Gonzalez. His opening paragraph contains a fascinating insight:
Heralding the rise of the daily newspaper in 1831, French poet and politician Alphonse de Lamartine declared journalism would emerge as “the whole of human thought,” but that thought itself “will not have time to ripen into the form of a book.” The book, Lamartine proclaimed, “will arrive too late.”
So de Lamartine, writing precisely at the time when the newspaper was becoming the dominant medium for public discourse, is articulating three insights that dovetail perfectly with what we have been saying now in 2019:
1. The “whole of human thought” is now contained in journalism, which is the communications medium of politics. Remember the insight about political thought (Age of Revolution) replacing philosophical thought (Renaissance/Enlightenment) which replaced theological thought (Age of Faith). In the Age of Revolution, all thought is dominated by the political, and therefore the book is replaced by the newspaper, which is the medium of daily change, turmoil, incomplete information, careless opinions, and constant conflict.
2. This “whole of human thought” bounded – limited – now by politics and journalism is inherently incapable of maturation and synthesis into a coherent whole, which is what he meant by saying that it cannot “ripen into the form of a book.” It is a constant stream of “rough drafts” that don’t come together or get completed, but rather keep starting all over again in more and more, and more various ways. It is a centrifugal, fragmenting movement incapable of synthesis or maturity.
3. “…the book will arrive too late…” In other words, this Revolutionary form of human discourse will prevent a new synthesis, a new basis for human culture, being arrived at in time to prevent civilizational catastrophe. This was borne out in the 20th century.
Well, enough of the newspaper for now. Let us go on to another component of the “Great Stereopticon,” the radio.
II. The Great Stereopticon, Session 2 – The Magical Voice of the Radio
It is hard for us to imagine how astounding hearing someone’s voice over the radio for the first time must have been to our recent ancestors (my grandparents’ generation, most of whom were born in the 1890’s and attained adulthood in the WWI era). The telephone was amazing enough – the idea that once could transmit sound through wires. But to transmit sound for thousands of miles through the air. It really partakes of the quality of magic. It bespeaks an awesome power and commands authority in a way that even the mightiest newspaper cannot. It is a “quantum leap” up in the ability of those who “own the microphone” to dominate public opinion.
The “golden age” of radio was a short period – the 1920’s through the 1940’s – and gave way to the reign of television, which we could date roughly from 1950 to 2000. From the beginning, a very small group of people “owned the microphone.” The financial and industrial elite who controlled the economy and politics also controlled the media. There were few radio networks – some of whose names are still familiar today, such as NBC and CBS – they all told pretty much the same story about current events, and they formed a uniform mindset among their listeners. So the power of radio ratcheted up the power of the elite to control opinion, and this in turn prepared the masses of people for being influenced by the even greater power of television. Let’s look at some aspects of this:
A. The Power of Speech – Somewhere Plato says that writing was a step down in man’s intellectual and moral development – that the most ancient men were both more intelligent and more honest than those who came later, and that writing was a crutch they invented later, when they were neither as smart or as virtuous as their ancestors. (If someone could locate that in the Dialogues, I would appreciate it). We sense this instinctively: If you can trust someone’s spoken promise and don’t need a written contract, it’s because you think more highly of his morality. If someone knows the Bible and can recite it by heart in addition to being able to read it and write it, you think of him as someone who is functioning at a higher level, who owns the words that he is passing on to you. If I just tell you something and expect you to believe me, that indicates a closer bond, a higher level of trust. So speech is both more personal and more sacred than writing. And being personal, there is less distance. You can put a letter or an article away in a drawer and think about it, or forget about it. If someone is “in your face,” so to speak, you are more compelled to respond one way or the other. Any stranger can send a letter to your mailbox, but only a friend or relative or neighbor – someone you trust – is allowed to come onto your front porch or into your living room to sit down and talk to you.
So here I am, an ordinary person living in America, say, in the 1930’s, and suddenly Franklin Roosevelt – this famous, great man, admired by millions – is actually on my front porch or in my living room, by way of his wonderful voice, both wonderful because the man really is a great speaker, and because of the medium itself, which is simply magical. If I were just reading his speech printed in the newspaper, I could analyze it, think about, look at it from different angles, agree or disagree, maybe just ignore it. But here he is, the Great Man, and he has come to my home, to visit me! We have suddenly become, if not friends, then at least good enough acquaintances so that he is allowed to sit down with me and my family, in my home, and give me his opinion. (By the way, FDR did always begin his famous Fireside Chats with “My friends…”). Any guest no matter how humble, commands deference. And this guest is such an important person…I am very honored by his visit. How can I not be impressed by his words?
So, on the one hand, this radio technology creates a kind of “retro,” traditional feel, the human touch – We can just “talk to each other” rather than have to use the more formal medium of writing. This creates trust and personal warmth. The problem is that the trust and warmth are illusory, for there is not real friendship here; both because it’s a one-way street, and because the man behind the microphone only seems to be talking directly to me. He actually does not know me, and his goal is to persuade millions of people who actually don’t know him at all. The medium of writing, as Plato notes, was invented for a reason, that the later men were less trustworthy than the ancient men. But what if later, untrustworthy men – and very powerful ones – jumped over that defense mechanism of written communication and came at you directly, commanding the reverence due the spoken word?
Radio, then, greatly increased the power of the few to control the opinions of the many.
B. Advertising – If you have been watching the YouTube series on Edward Bernays (“Century of the Self”) which I mentioned in Class 33, you have been learning about the creation and growth of commercial advertising using 20th century technology. Of course, radio was a great “leap forward” over printed advertising, for some of the same reasons I have mentioned above in relation to politics. The man with a friendly, trusting voice comes magically over the airwaves into your home and says to buy this kind of laundry soap, and if you do, your wife will be happy, and your children will have cleaner clothes, and when you come home she will give you a big kiss and have your favorite dinner ready for you, and your home will be a better place, and so forth and so on. Why wouldn’t you trust the friendly man? And, of course, all the learning that went into developing radio advertising – script writing, acting, sound effects, and so forth – will later be applied to advertising using the even more powerful medium of television.
Let’s not forget: What we learn from studying Bernays is that, from the outset, the longterm purpose of advertising is not merely to sell soap – that is a short term goal. The longterm goal is to create masses of human beings who will respond to massively broadcast stimuli and then behave uniformly in a way desired by the people in power. The longterm goal is what is today called “full spectrum dominance” through social engineering. Advertising, which manipulates the subject by arousing desire or envy or fear – the lower passions – is a key element in this program.
Of course, print technology – newspapers, handbills, mailers, billboards, and so forth – also served, and still serve – as advertising technology. But the radio was a tremendous leap forward.
C. Radio as Theater – Radio, along with the cinema and television, carries with it the power of theater in a way completely unavailable to printed media. Think about it – what is more powerful, more compelling – to read the text of a play or to see it performed? Radio does not have the visual aspect, of course, but a great reader or actor or orator exerts tremendous power just using the voice. I am going to speak more about theater when we cover the topic of the cinema, but briefly now let’s recall that theater in our culture has its historical roots in the religion of the pagan Greeks. It is a religious activity: the actor steps out of his ordinary identity and takes on a transcendent vocation as a messenger from the gods teaching a moral lesson, examining a theme of universal significance, going through an existential crisis, either overcoming or being destroyed by some life or death problem that all men have in common. The resolution of the crisis presented, whether tragic or comic – i.e., whether there is a sad or a happy ending – takes on a canonical character, demands acceptance, becomes, as it were, a moral imperative. If are part of the audience, which is really a sacred congregation of initiates, and you reject the meaning of the play, you become a heretic, an outlaw from the moral community bound by its going through the initiatory experience of the drama just presented.
So theater is an initiatory ritual and we human beings are “hard-wired” for it. It’s in our cultural “DNA.” One way of looking at how radio – and even more powerfully, cinema and TV – affects people is that it draws them into some kind of drama, some kind of ritual experience of crisis, and then resolves their crisis, giving them a new life. It could be something absurdly trivial, like my wife’s laundry detergent making my white T-shirts gray, and the divine/magical hero – Mr. Soap Man on the radio – being the deus ex machina who solves our problem and enables us to live happily ever after. Or it could be a real-life, vast drama on a vast scale – the Japanese might be coming to bomb California tomorrow, and I must trust the divine figure of FDR to save me. Once I go through the crisis, “die” so to speak to my old life, and am “resurrected” by the resolution of my existential problem, I am a new person, bound to my “savior” – Mr. Soap Man or FDR or whoever. It would be heresy and apostasy to doubt them, to leave their fold.
More on theater in our later classes…Also music, which forms a large part of the power of radio as well as TV and cinema. (Today we just touched on the spoken word).
III. This Week’s Survival Tips
So how can we apply some of the things we’ve talked about today to our survival as Orthodox Christians. Here is a short list:
1. Remind ourselves of the sacredness of speech, of the power of the tongue to do good or evil. Re-read chapter three of the Epistle of St. James. Now think about how carelessly we listen to vast streams of chatter from the radio, Internet, TV, etc., and how much we imitate the emptiness and coarseness of this chatter in our own communications. Let us repent and turn to quietness, and when we speak, to employ speech that is elevated, thoughtful, and unhurried. Remember that Our Lord said that we will answer for every careless word.
2. As we do our daily Scripture reading, make it a practice always to read aloud. Reading Holy Scripture and other sacred reading aloud, as well as reading aloud the better and more refined kinds of secular literature, will train us in higher and better patterns of speech and thought, will help cure our misuse of the spoken word.
3. Turn off the radio during our driving time. Play sacred music or a good book. Or just pray. Don’t get sucked into the vortex of radio talk shows.
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