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On Communication and Censorship

Okay, this will be my last quote from the Illuminatus! Trilogy, but it is a doozy in that it again shows its prescience for todays issues 30 years ago.

A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of "monopoly on the means of production." Since man extends his nervous system through channels of communication like the written word, the telephone, radio, etc., he who controls these media controls part of the nervous system of every member of society. The contents of these media become part of the contents of every individual’s brain.

Thus, in pre-literate societies taboos on the spoken word are more numerous and more Draconic than at any more complex level of social organization. With the invention of written speech---hieroglyphic, ideographic, or alphabetical ---the taboos are shifted to this medium; there is less concern with what people say and more concern with what they write. (Some of the first societies to achieve literacy, such as Egypt and the Mayan culture of ancient Mexico, evidently kept a knowledge of their hieroglyphs a religious secret which only the higher orders of the priestly and royal families were allowed to share.) The same process repeats endlessly: Each step forward in the technology of communication is more heavily tabooed than the earlier steps. Thus, in America today (post-Lenny Bruce), one seldom hears of convictions for spoken blasphemy or obscenity; prosecution of books still continues, but higher courts increasingly interpret the laws in a liberal fashion, and most writers feel fairly confident that they can publish virtually anything; movies are growing almost as desacralized as books, although the fight is still heated in this area; television, the newest medium; remains encased in Neolithic taboo. (When the TV pundits committed lèse majesté after an address by the then Dominant Male, a certain Richard Nixon, one of his lieutenants quickly informed them they had overstepped, and the whole tribe---except for the dissident minority---cheered for the reassertion of tradition.) When a more efficient medium arrives, the taboos on television will decrease.

p.796 Illuminatus! Trilogy

So taken the next step in our 21st century, the new efficient medium is the Internet and so we see the anti network neutrality and misnamed patriot acts in poor attempts to control our means of communication. My friend in LA, SA Griffin, has written in his Apes of Wrath poem---"The Revolution Will be Televised!" I say "The Revolution Will be On-Line" and the battles will be in cyberspace.

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3 comments

Comment from: winston smith [Visitor] Email
winston smithGil Scott-Heron lyrics - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (1988)

(also recorded by The Last Poets)

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o'clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver's seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.
01/24/08 @ 08:52
Comment from: kathy [Visitor] Email
kathyneato - this gives me something new to think about.
01/24/08 @ 09:00
Comment from: Jon Husband [Visitor] Email
Jon HusbandNice find, and thanks for sharing it with us.

I think Frank Zappa had a lot of this stuff sorted pretty well about 30 + years ago.
05/03/08 @ 15:25