Monday, July 28, 2014

Tweet us not into temptation

  David Carr at The New York Times has
  raised the subject of social media's
  influence in the dissemination of in-
  formation, and I naturally passed his
  column along to a member of the demo-
  graphic class likeliest to receive da-
  ta in that form, which is to say ine-
  luctably, of that kind. Carr's piece
  put one in mind of remarks David Rem-
  nick attributes to Harold Ross, the 
  most circumspect editor of the pre-
  vious century, on dispatching Flanner
  to Paris in the '40s. Paraphrasing, he
  said to her, I don't want to read what
  you think. I want what to be told what
  the French think.

  Mr Carr sounds almost as aware as Ross
  was, that the wholesale violation of
  this standard of reporting, which tweet-
  ing represents, is not an influence so
  much in the dissemination of news as an
  influence upon its content, at the most
  wanton risk, at best, of its misconstruc-
  tion. I wrote to my young friend, I am 
  Jeffersonian in my appreciation of every-
  one's right to the possession and use of
  information, but Madisonian in sifting it.
  I take to heart Sontag's warning, of the
  risk of diminishing the horrible, but I'm
  greatly more troubled by the certainty of
  suppressing the relevant. Tweeting around 
  editing is not in the interest of cogni-
  tion; it is not even interested in it.

  Tweeting embodies that grotesque defor-
  mity wrought in the Clinton Presidency,
  by victims' statements in the leveling of
  criminal justice. When humanity agreed to
  exchange the volatility of vengeance for
  predictable standards as the foundation of
  justice, it ceded the claims of private
  agony to the legislature to anticipate, 
  the jury to apportion, and the judge to
  administer. It is why we grade papers, why
  we have Mozart to relieve dulness, why we
  breed horses to run. There is little about
  democracy that learning can't ameliorate.
  But the taste for it is vulnerable, and
  always the victim of impulsive ploys.

  We discuss occasionally the horrors of un-
  representative, undisciplined government
  from the top. But demagoguery depends on a
  demos to endure it. I have argued before,
  that taste is a human right. But it is a
  human achievement, not an animal reflex.
  I want to know what the French think; and
  I know, I need them to do it.


  1. Well Done . Bravo!

    1. I can tell by the flying punctuation, more than by the occult notation at the close, who you are, and I must say, thank you ~