Neverland

“[I] may be wishing to convey that you just do not know who or what I am. Far, accordingly, from wishing, or sensing a need, to define criteria with which we would be mutually attuned, I wish, or sense a need, to convey how perfectly, originally, I satisfy the criteria. We could say of my condition, or you could say it, that I had made myself morally incomprehensible, as Kierkegaard in effect says of Abraham. (There is the modern man for you: knife in hand, full of readiness to sacrifice, but in the absence of God, and of Isaac, and hence of an angel in the wings.) (The slave and the outcast have been made morally invisible.)
One in this condition does not feel unknown for the reason that the fact of his or her sentience is taken to be unknown. Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, and be known to have it, and others not? Expertise cannot be required to know of this life, but then what appreciation is wanted, what sentiment or sensibility would be fine enough to vibrate to one’s originality? Human beings do not naturally desire isolation and incomprehension, but union or reunion, call it community. It is in faithfulness to that desire that one declares oneself unknown. (And of course the faithfulness, the desire, and the declaration may all be based on illusion. The conceptual connection, however, would remain as real as ever.) The wish to be extraordinary, exceptional, unique, thus reveals the wish to be ordinary, everyday. (One does not, after all, wish to become a monster, even though the realization of one’s wish for uniqueness would make one a monster.)”
(The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy by Stanley Cavell, 1979 Pg. 462-463)

Cavell’s insight, written pre the age of social media and just post the age of free love, becomes acutely perceptive in light of Frontline’s recent critique of social media, “Generation Like” (2-18-14). The paradoxical relationship of the need to be exceptional and unique in order to be “liked” and belong, to be part of an “online community”, could not have been anticipated, or elaborated better. “(And of course the faithfulness, the desire, and the declaration may all be based on illusion. The conceptual connection, however, would remain as real as ever.)” Generation Like reveals the “illusion” appropriated by capitalist marketing (for profit everything avails itself to appropriation). What more can be said of this moral incomprehensibility? (There is the adolescent, holding video recorder in hand at arm’s length, full of readiness to cash in as the new Michael Jackson, but in the absence of the blinding lights of a vast stage, and an adulating hoard of grasping ticket holders, and hence of a Bubbles waiting in Neverland welcoming the royal pretender home.)

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