Buddhist View on Death and Rebirth
He taught at Yale University from to Available online at http: The essay is reprinted here with kind permission of the author.
What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity.
As the two technologies converge -- broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider -- the two cultures betray a common impulse.
Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible. If not to the millions, on Survivor or Oprah, then to the hundreds, on Twitter or Facebook.
This is the quality that validates us, this is how we become real to ourselves -- by being seen by others. The great contemporary terror is anonymity.
If Lionel Trilling was right, if the property that grounded the self, in Romanticism, was sincerity, and in modernism it was authenticity, then in postmodernism it is visibility.
So we live exclusively in relation to others, and what disappears from our lives is solitude.
Technology is taking away our privacy and our concentration, but it is also taking away our ability to be alone.
We are doing this to ourselves; we are discarding these riches as fast as we can. I was told by one of her older relatives that a teenager I know had sent 3, text messages one recent month.
I once asked my students about the place that solitude has in their lives. Another said, why would anyone want to be alone? To that remarkable question, history offers a number of answers. Man may be a social animal, but solitude has traditionally been a societal value.
In particular, the act of being alone has been understood as an essential dimension of religious experience, albeit one restricted to a self-selected few.
Through the solitude of rare spirits, the collective renews its relationship with divinity. The prophet and the hermit, the sadhu and the yogi, pursue their vision quests, invite their trances, in desert or forest or cave. For the still, small voice speaks only in silence.William Deresiewicz: "The End of Solitude" William Deresiewicz is a contemporary writer, reviewer, and literary critic.
He taught at Yale University from to My Heart Leaps Up - My heart leaps up when I behold. I HAD rather believe all the fables in the Legend, 1 and the Talmud, 2 and the Alcoran, 3 than that this universal frame is without a mind.
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