The Ninth & Tenth Kirk Elbod Interviews:


P|       I was walking to my car after work, about 5 P.M. on 
Y|  a hot, humid day in early June, when I was startled by 
R|  the sound of a loud engine coming up quickly behind me. 
I|  Kirk had apparently found out where I worked.
G|       For the first time in our association, I felt a 
H|  tinge of resentment at his presence. He had never 
T|  injected himself into my life before. With just the 
||  slightest grimace, I approached his rattle trap of 
1|  transportation. "What's going on?" I enquired 
9|  nonchalantly.
8|       "It's Friday night," he replied. "So...?" I said. 
9|  "Well, let's go to the mall." And with that he opened the 
||  passenger door. It seemed that I had no alternative. I 
B|  wished to continue this series of interviews with him, so 
Y|  I acquiesced.
||       "Why the mall on Friday night?," I probed as he 
R|  steered this piece of auto history through an old part of 
I|  town, choosing to go the back "historic" route as he had 
C|  explained to me in an earlier interview, rather than 
H|  using the newer, faster, main thoroughfares.
A|       "Because that's when it's at its best" was the 
R|  reply.
D|       Suddenly I noticed that the mall was looming, 
||  filling my view at the end of the street, as though this 
d|  road had always gone directly to it. It seemed that he 
e|  had read my thoughts because he elaborated "This route 
G|  has always lead to the spot where the mall now stands. 
A|  Only it used to be a park years ago. People congregated 
R|  here on weekends then. And I think some of that spirit is 
I|  still part of the mall on Friday night."
S|       And, of course he was right. The mall was thronged 
||  with all kinds: frantic teenagers, overall clad farmers, 
D|  blue collar families, cool college students, well dressed 
O|  executive types, middle class families, blacks and 
B|  whites, young and old. 
L|       TALBOT: I'm surprised you like the mall. Its so 
E|  commercial, so artificial, built so recently over what 
||  used to be a nice old park. Not to mention the 
A|  omnipresent muzak that you hate.
L|       ELBOD: You're right of course. But things do change, 
L|  and for something modern, the mall may be one of the best 
||  things we've got.
R|       TALBOT: Why? (I pressed.) 
I|       ELBOD: Because the scale is right. Its a good 
G|  example of designing with the human scale in mind. The 
H|  stores are not overwhelmingly huge, the walkway is just 
T|  the right width for strolling, there are trees and 
S|  skylights. People feel comfortable here. They can sit, or 
||  watch, or eat, or stroll, or shop. And it's a large 
R|  enough space that they can move to another area if they 
E|  want. It's a bit like a European promenade and not unlike 
S|  the image, most of us have, of walking down the main 
E|  street of a small town, going from store to store, 
R|  meeting and chatting with neighbors.
V|       TALBOT: Another of your romantic images? (I jabbed.) 
E|       ELBOD: Perhaps, but people do feel comfortable here. 
D|  Look at this group on the benches eating ice cream, 
||  watching all the people go by. They are at ease. 
||       That doesn't mean that I don't have objections. The 
C|  reason the stores and the mall went to all this trouble 
O|  was to sell us something. To get us to feel relaxed, so 
P|  we would part with our money. We are being manipulated in 
Y|  a sense, but we choose to go to the mall; no one is 
R|  forcing us.
I|       Much more insidious, I think, is the ever present 
G|  crush of advertising that we are all subjected to in this 
H|  society. We are being controlled and manipulated in very 
T|  subtle ways which is a source of much of the frustration 
||  we feel today.
1|       TALBOT: Just what are you talking about?
9|       ELBOD: I'm talking about this McDonalds' sign over 
8|  here, for example. (He motioned me over to the local 
9|  McDonalds at one side of the area with the park benches.) 
||  They're trademarked slogan is "We do it all for you." But 
B|  I know that they don't do it all for me. 
Y|       TALBOT: There is no plural in English for the 
||  pronoun "you" as in other languages.
R|       ELBOD: Exactly. And they are exploiting that 
I|  difference, that ambiguity, to try to make me think that 
C|  they care about me. But they don't. I'm just an anonymous 
H|  customer. There are countless ads which use this 
A|  ambiguity in the word "you" to manipulate the individual 
R|  into thinking that he or she matters to them and of 
D|  course they don't, except as a number. And of course we 
||  all know this, but we have learned to accept this kind of 
d|  corporate lying because there's nothing we can do about 
e|  it. And it seems that if these slogans are repeated a few 
G|  hundred or thousand times, we tend to forget the fact 
A|  that we are being lied to.
R|       TALBOT: As I said there is no plural in English ...
I|       ELBOD: Well actually there is. (He said with a broad 
S|  smile.) The southern expression "you-all" is a plural 
||  "you", it is only used in the plural, never to refer to 
D|  an individual. So at the very least this slogan of 
O|  McDonalds should read "We do it all for you-all." (He 
B|  laughed.)
L|       It would still be a lie but it would be less of a 
E|  lie.
||       TALBOT: Aren't you nitpicking here. It can't be all 
A|  that important.
L|       ELBOD: I'm merely using this as an example of what 
L|  the marketing interests are doing to us. For instance can 
||  you sing the song that goes with the slogan "We do it all 
R|  for you."? Of course you can and so can I. It's been 
I|  drilled into us, so that we know it by heart. And then 
G|  there's Ronald McDonald, who is almost as familiar to 
H|  children, as Santa Claus.
T|       I believe that advertising and marketing are 
S|  gradually taking over our language, our imagery, our 
||  beliefs, and our sense of ourselves. If you think any of 
R|  these things are important (he said with a wry smile) .
E|       TALBOT: Go one, as I'm sure you will.
S|       (Kirk stopped at the local ice cream vendor and 
E|  bought each of us a cone. Then we started to wander down 
R|  the mall, speaking in leisurely, relaxed way, as people 
V|  do on a stroll.) 
E|       ELBOD: In "1984" George Orwell predicted that 
D|  citizens would confuse lies with truth. See if the 
||  following are examples of lies that most consumers accept 
||  as true. 
C|       In the grocery store you will find a plastic 
O|  container which is filled with lemon juice made from 
P|  concentrate plus a preservative. It's name? "Reallemon" 
Y|  Does any one believe that this is actually real lemon 
R|  juice?
I|       A soft drink with a number of artificial 
G|  ingredients, including artifical color, preservatives, 
H|  and caffeine, advertised that it was "simple and true."
T|       How many ads, especially during sales, have you seen 
||  that use the word "save"? What advertisers are really 
1|  saying is "spend less", not "save". And the net result is 
9|  that we spend, we do not save. Most of us were taught, 
8|  when we were young, that it was good to save. "Save" is 
9|  an emotionally laden word. Merchandisers are manipulating 
||  us to spend, while convincing us we are saving. 
B|       And the list goes on and on.
Y|       TALBOT: But talking about language seems so 
||  unimportant, so trivial.
R|       ELBOD: Well there can be important consequences. For 
I|  example, the U.S. savings rate has been declining and now 
C|  is lower than it has been for years. I believe this is 
H|  partly due to the confusion created by advertisers that 
A|  spending is actually saving. Our savings rate effects 
R|  interest rates, the value of the dollar, and the economy. 
D|  In other words the consequences of distorting a word such 
||  as "save" are much more serious than it first appears.
d|       But in addition, the language is how we express 
e|  ourselves, how we communicate what we mean and feel to 
G|  each other. If this is contaminated, polluted by 
A|  advertising than what do we have?
R|       Advertising does not have to be obnoxious or 
I|  intrusive. It can get it's message across by targeting 
S|  interested customers and by not trying to appeal to 
||  everyone.
D|       But most advertising pitches and jingles are 
O|  designed to annoy, irritate, stick in your head. They are 
B|  designed to be retained by everyone who hears them. The 
L|  fact that most of us can recite the McDonalds slogan and 
E|  sing the song shows how far advertising has penetrated 
||  our consciousness.
A|       But it goes much deeper than this. Advertising has 
L|  been defined as the art of creating a need. It uses 
L|  images along with language and music to exploit our fears 
||  and desires. When it can it intimidates us -think of 
R|  "Ring around the collar"-, assures us, makes us feel we 
I|  will be respected, or sexy, or rich, or wanted, or 
G|  powerful. It uses pseudo scientific experiments and false 
H|  arguments. It exploits rivalries between men and women. 
T|       Advertising is immoral because it doesn't care what 
S|  it does to us as long as we will buy and we are not 
||  offended. And we have generally accepted this bombardment 
R|  of immorality because there is nothing we can do about 
E|  it.
S|       TALBOT: You don't have to participate. You can 
E|  always watch a pay channel on TV.
R|       ELBOD: I'm glad you brought that up. Let's say I 
V|  watch only pay TV or public TV and listen to public 
E|  radio, so I don't hear or see ads on these media. Let's 
D|  say I don't subscribe to any magazine with advertising 
||  either. Nevertheless, there is advertising all around me. 
||  If I read the local paper it's there. On billboards along 
C|  the highways, in displays and on public address systems 
O|  in stores, junk advertising in the mail, on and in public 
P|  transportation, and finally even on the clothes, products 
Y|  and T-shirts that people are now wearing. I really have 
R|  no choice unless I'm going to live completely apart from 
I|  the society, which I do not wish to do.
G|       Look at these Nike shoes I'm wearing. Now these are 
H|  good shoes. But their name is on the back, the front, and 
T|  on the sole. (He said stopping, and pulling up the bottom 
||  of his shoe, then hopping on one foot to show me the 
1|  embossed lettering on sole. People strolling by could not 
9|  help but stare.) So if I were walking on the beach, 
8|  someone could tell from my footprints what brand of shoes 
9|  I wore. Plus they even have their graphic trademarked 
||  symbol on the sides of the shoe. I bought these shoes 
B|  because they were what I wanted, not to be a walking 
Y|  advertisement for the company (He laughed) .
||       Advertising is an everpresent noise that seeks to 
R|  get our attention. And we must make an effort to tune it 
I|  out. It is a form of mind pollution.
C|       TALBOT: You seem pretty worked up about this. 
H|       ELBOD: Well I haven't gotten to the bottom of this 
A|  yet. Marketing uses some of our most basic primitive 
R|  attitudes to manipulate us. Anamatism, for example, which 
D|  is the old belief that trees and rocks had spirits, has 
||  been reborn in ads with talking toilets and tubs of 
d|  margarine. Magic, another old belief, was used in 
e|  fantastic ads, such as the man who flew into the Hertz 
G|  rent-a-car. A drain unclogger employed a voice from on 
A|  high, like the old testament god; this voice even made 
R|  the entire apartment shake in the ad, to evoke fear. 
I|  Surrealism and dream imagery were used recently in an ad 
S|  where a hayfever sufferer encountered a cat, larger than 
||  a human, who caused him to sneeze. 
D|       Even poetry has been stolen to some extent. My 
O|  father used to say that we don't have a need for poetry 
B|  in America because advertising is our poetry. 
L|       And the minute someone comes out with something that 
E|  is accepted by the public then advertising grabs it. I 
||  saw a headache ad, the other day, with Philip Glass type 
A|  music, for example.
L|       Now, what do we get when we buy what advertising has 
L|  convinced us to buy, which is the other half of the 
||  problem?
R|       TALBOT: You tell me (I said with a weary wave of my 
I|  hand) 
G|       ELBOD: You don't get what you thought. You get the 
H|  sizzle but not the steak, as an advertising man told me 
T|  once. Much of the time marketing leaves us broke or in 
S|  debt and unsatisfied. If you buy one of those instant 
||  coffees which advertises that you can share intimate 
R|  moments with your friends using the coffee, then you have 
E|  wasted time and money better spent with an intimate 
S|  friend or developing a friendship. If you buy a deodorant 
E|  to feel secure then you are still insecure.
R|       In the '60s the Texas Tower killer took a rifle with 
V|  many rounds of ammunition to the top of the university 
E|  tower. He intended to kill as many people as possible and 
D|  succeeded. But he also brought deodorant with him. Who, 
||  in God's name, (Kirk raised his hand in exasperation.) 
||  was he afraid of offending?
C|       If you ever want to understand what people really 
O|  lack in this society, what they really want, or think 
P|  they want, look at the appeals of advertising. Companies 
Y|  spend millions of dollars, each year, trying to discover 
R|  people's desires and then associating their products with 
I|  those desires.
G|       TALBOT: So what are you going to do about all this 
H|  (I said somewhat mockingly) .
T|       ELBOD: (With a sharp look, reminiscent of our 
||  earlier interviews.) Well you may be surprised but I have 
1|  an idea for counteracting the effect of ads, which I call 
9|  the anti-ad campaign.
8|       TALBOT: I should have known (I said with a sigh) .
9|       ELBOD: The anti-ad campaign will be a way to 
||  desensitize people from the appeals of advertising. To 
B|  start to inoculate them, if you will, so they wouldn't be 
Y|  so susceptible to advertising's brain washing.
||       I am proposing that an organization be set up to 
R|  produce these anti-ads and air them on commercial TV, at 
I|  prime time, in so far as the money allows.
C|       For example, one anti-ad would feature a very sexy 
H|  woman in a bikini surrounded, almost hidden, by smoke. 
A|  She is trying to say, in a soft come-on voice, something 
R|  like "Men buy this product I am selling. You will be more 
D|  attractive to women" but she can't really say it because 
||  she is coughing due to the smoke. At the end of the ad 
d|  large words appear over the smoke which read "ADVERTISING 
e|  IS POLLUTION". These anti-ads would be very short, 
G|  fifteen seconds, and could air along with other ads 
A|  during regular viewing hours. The campaign would be 
R|  supported by viewer contributions.
I|       TALBOT: Suppose the TV stations refuse to run these 
S|  ads?
||       ELBOD: Then we will make a fuss, take them to court. 
D|  As long as we are paying customers, who are saying 
O|  nothing libelous, then we ought to be able to say what we 
B|  want in this great free enterprise system of ours. 
L|  Otherwise it isn't free enterprise. 
E|       TALBOT: Well, I must say that is a novel solution.
||       (With that we exited the mall in silence and Kirk 
A|  drove me back to my car. We waved good bye. I sat in my 
L|  vehicle for a while feeling like I had been captured for 
L|  an hour, but at the same time feeling that my normal 
||  routine had been broken to reveal a way of speaking back 
R|  to the forces that be.) 
E|       (About two weeks after our trip to the mall, Kirk 
S|  called to say "Don't make any plans for Independence Day 
E|  -- I want to show you something."
R|       At least he had given me notice, but as usual I no 
V|  notion of what to expect. This time, I suggested we take 
E|  my car, a late model Japanese sedan, so that we would 
D|  draw less attention and have a greater chance of arriving 
||  at our destination. He protested that his '65 Falcon had 
||  never broken down, but nevertheless to my amazement, he 
C|  reluctantly agreed. 
O|       We departed at 6 P.M. for Halston Springs, a small 
P|  town in the foothills, about an hour's drive away. The 
Y|  weather was hot, but not oppressive; humid but bearable. 
R|  I had never visited this town, nor had any interest in 
I|  visiting until Kirk talked me into going there. Kirk, of 
G|  course, insisted that we travel the original old highway 
H|  to this town, which was now a winding back road. We found 
T|  ourselves driving through rolling hills, which were 
||  gradually giving way to flatter land -- when Kirk began 
1|  to speak.)
9|       ELBOD: Most of us, in the United States, have images 
8|  in our heads about the American revolution. Paul Revere 
9|  and the midnight ride, the Boston Tea Party, taxation 
||  without representation, the cracked Liberty Bell, etc.
B|       Now, I could not give you a good chronological 
Y|  history of the Revolutionary war. I feel comfortable with 
||  knowing only the broad outlines of the revolutionary war, 
R|  since it was so long ago. But I can conjure up these 
I|  images which have become symbols in my mind. These mind 
C|  pictures are quite evocative and seem sufficient. 
H|       What I'm concerned about today are these types of 
A|  symbolic elements which motivate us, as much or more than 
R|  the specific facts of history.
D|       In Halston Springs you will see men dressed in Red 
||  Coats with muskets, and others dressed like soldiers of 
d|  the Continental Army. The local band will play military 
e|  music and then the fire department will finish off with a 
G|  display of fire works.
A|       These symbols interest me. And all the other notions 
R|  that we carry around in our heads: the mind images that 
I|  make up our view of the world, that in fact make up what 
S|  we perceive reality to be.
||       TALBOT: Not to get too deep at this hour, but 
D|  reality is reality no matter what notions you carry 
O|  around in your head.
B|       ELBOD: Perhaps, but with a lot more leeway than you 
L|  might think.
E|       Let me outline what I mean.
||       TALBOT: Please do, we still have a while to drive 
A|  before we get there.
L|       ELBOD: I believe the mind contains complex, 
L|  interweaving, intermeshing levels and networks of images 
||  and symbols. There are layers on top of layers and each 
R|  level affects every other level. There are specific 
I|  pictures to general concepts, dramatic news photos that 
G|  capture our imagination to evocative religious symbols. 
H|  There are cultural customs and outlooks, scientific 
T|  models, primitive beliefs, folk sayings, Hollywood 
S|  images, profound art, pervasive understandings, wrenching 
||  experiences, and childhood memories. And I am just 
R|  touching on some of the images and layers that each of us 
E|  carries around.
S|       For lack of a better word, I will refer to each 
E|  element of these elements as an "image". We absorb these 
R|  images through learning, experience, imagination, 
V|  cultural pressures, and from our environment - to again 
E|  just brush the surface. But it is through this network of 
D|  images and symbols that we see the world. It is how we 
||  know the world. It is how we stay in touch with the 
||  world. 
C|       Ashley Montagu, the anthropologist,said "In a 
O|  profound sense the imaginative life of a culture is its 
P|  most living reality."
Y|       Now it is not exactly news that people view their 
R|  world through a "filter" to use a computer term. But few 
I|  people realize, if any one ever can, the full extent to 
G|  which their perceptions are determined, modified, 
H|  distorted by this filter.
T|       For example, women have a hard time getting men to 
||  understand the subtle ways that they are discriminated 
1|  against in this society, because the men just don't see 
9|  it. 
8|       I believe that we see the world through the 
9|  "glasses" of this set of images. In fact the word I would 
||  like to use along with the word "world-view" is "mind-
B|  view" because it emphasizes the world as seen through our 
Y|  images, the world we see through our mind's eye.
||       TALBOT: Are you saying reality is all in our minds? 
R|       ELBOD: Yes and no. Each of us needs these images, 
I|  this mind-view, in order to function at all. Otherwise we 
C|  would be overwhelmed by the world. Each day we would have 
H|  to learn from scratch and this is impossible. But over 
A|  time some parts of our mind-view become inappropriate, or 
R|  too limited, or restricting.
D|       As times change, the culture changes, conditions 
||  change, and our mind-view may get seriously out of 
d|  synchronization with the world. And when this happens we 
e|  can be suddenly, violently brought back into sync. This 
G|  is what happened to Louis the 16th of France during the 
A|  French revolution. Neither he nor his wife, Marie 
R|  Antoinette, perceived the deep and serious problems in 
I|  their society, until they were suddenly jolted back to 
S|  reality by the revolt which had been building for years.
||       The Japanese, during World War II thought that they 
D|  were unconquerable. And this perception helped them be 
O|  good soldiers. I am sure they fought better because of 
B|  their belief. On the other hand they did not realize that 
L|  they could lose. So the final reality of their defeat was 
E|  abrupt and violent. Only the emperor seemed to sense the 
||  truth, because his general still wanted to fight, even 
A|  after two atom bombs. That is the power of a mind-view.
L|       But democracies, like ours, can suffer from their 
L|  own peculiar distortions of the world. To quote George 
||  Kennan, a long time adviser to U.S. presidents, "There 
R|  is, let me assure you, nothing in nature more 
I|  egocentrical than the embattled democracy. It soon 
G|  becomes the victim of its own war propaganda. It then 
H|  tends to attach to its own cause an absolute value which 
T|  distorts its own vision on everything else. Its enemy 
S|  becomes the embodiment of all evil. Its own side, on the 
||  other hand, is the center of all virtue. The contest 
R|  comes to be viewed as having a final, apocalyptic 
E|  quality." And mind you Kennan was talking about World War 
S|  I, although what he said certainly applies today.
E|       The problem is that most people aren't even aware 
R|  that they carry around a mind-view or a world-view.
V|       TALBOT: How do you propose that people become aware.
E|       ELBOD: It's not easy. We all carry these images with 
D|  us and don't see them because we are so used to them. 
||  Marshall McLuhan once said that water would be about the 
||  last thing a fish could identify as part of its 
C|  environment, if it could talk. (He laughed.)
O|       (About this time the town of Halston Springs came 
P|  into view. We parked the car and walked down the main 
Y|  street -which had been blocked off for the occasion- past 
R|  the church food stalls to the park where the games were 
I|  just about to end. It turned out that the championship 
G|  watermelon seed spitting contest was drawing to a close. 
H|  With a huff and a puff the last several remaining 
T|  spitters shoot their watermelon seed down a long strip of 
||  white butcher paper. All eyes went to the allusive seed. 
1|  The judges noted the distance. Then when the final seed 
9|  was spat, a small boy with big lungs and a remarkable 
8|  tongue shape was declared the winner of a huge watermelon 
9|  which he quickly cut open and offered to everyone, 
||  including Kirk and me. After eating our melon, we 
B|  strolled through the park. We could see lights coming on 
Y|  in the houses on the periphery. Cookout fires dotted the 
||  fading light. We walked back to the food vendors and Kirk 
R|  bought us each some local barbecue. We sat down on the 
I|  elevated sidewalk of the town. A column of older men, 
C|  dressed as member's of Washington's and Cornwallis's 
H|  army, marched by.)
A|       ELBOD: (wiping the barbecue from his lips) Maps, and 
R|  images and mind-views are essential. A human cannot live 
D|  without them. At the start of basic training in the armed 
||  forces, for example, inductees usually travel and arrive 
d|  in the dark so that they won't know where they're 
e|  located. Then the inductees are relieved of their 
G|  personal belongings, and their heads are shaved. In short 
A|  they're removed from all references to their former life. 
R|  The officers in charge of basic training know that by 
I|  stripping inductees of their sense of self and sense of 
S|  location, they can control and influence them better. The 
||  armed services can then impose their own maps and images 
D|  into this empty space they have created. 
O|       In a further example, most people experience 
B|  "culture shock" when they arrive in a foreign country. 
L|  They usually withdraw to their room for a day or two. 
E|  They are afraid to go out and deal with a new culture, 
||  where they may not even understand how to buy the 
A|  simplest thing. Their old maps are no longer valid, and 
L|  they have not acquired new ones.
L|       TALBOT: So why are you being subtly critical of this 
||  mind-view that each person carries with him or herself?
R|       ELBOD: When conditions change these mind=views must 
I|  also change and we are at a period in time when that 
G|  needs to happen. Ideally the change needs to be slow, not 
H|  abrupt. It needs to be more an increased awareness rather 
T|  than a rapid, convulsive revolution. But right now there 
S|  is an urgency.
||       TALBOT: Which is?
R|       ELBOD: Well the big three problems are: 
E|  overpopulation, nuclear war, and destruction of the 
S|  environment. But for the sake of discussion, I will focus 
E|  on just one, the Earth. 
R|       From my childhood I had an image that the Earth's 
V|  resources were basically unlimited. Certainly the ocean 
E|  and the atmosphere were unlimited. Now we are being faced 
D|  with the hard reality that what humans do, can effect 
||  both the air and the water. And we need to change our 
||  view about this before we have created an irreversible 
C|  greenhouse effect which will alter the climate on the 
O|  planet, not to mention flood most coastal areas. This is 
P|  only one of a number of possible environmental 
Y|  catastrophes that we are facing.
R|       We need to change our perception of the Earth, our 
I|  image of the Earth, as much as we need to change the 
G|  technology. This is the key point.
H|       We have made a start, but have not gone far enough. 
T|  In Dec. 1968, during the Christmas period, Apollo 8 took 
||  the first photographs of the entire Earth. This was the 
1|  first time that a manned spacecraft had traveled 
9|  sufficiently far to attain the necessary perspective. The 
8|  photographs showed her to be a lonely finite ball in 
9|  vast, empty, dark space. I think it's no accident that 
||  the environmental movement gained power after these 
B|  pictures were first seen. For example, congress passed 
Y|  sweeping environmental legislation, over President 
||  Nixon's veto, about two years later. This image of the 
R|  Earth was a startling, mind altering symbol.
I|       But now we are faced with something more subtle. 
C|  Each of us needs to realize that we can affect the 
H|  Earth's environment, by the way each of us lives. This is 
A|  probably as hard for us to believe as the discovery in 
R|  the 19th century that microscopic organisms could make 
D|  humans sick, or kill. Yet small as we are in relation to 
||  the Earth, we are like the tiny disease organisms that 
d|  affect the body. We need to make the conceptual leap that 
e|  this understanding requires. Or we will make the Earth 
G|  diseased. 
A|       TALBOT: Are these concerns the only area where our 
R|  imagery needs to be scrutinized?
I|       ELBOD: Well the fate of the human race is by far the 
S|  most pressing. But there is another area that has 
||  bothered me for some time. I'll have to give you some 
D|  background first.
O|       The way our minds work, certain images seem to rise 
B|  to the top, take precedence over other images, become 
L|  more powerful in determining our mind-view. This is a 
E|  natural thing to happen. But one set of images, in the 
||  West, seems to be out of wack.
A|       TALBOT: Explain, please.
L|       ELBOD: Bolter, author of "Turing's Man", wrote about 
L|  a concept he called "defining technologies." What he 
||  meant by this was that during various periods of time, a 
R|  technology has defined the West's view of the world. For 
I|  example, the 16th century mind saw the universe as a 
G|  clock and God as a clock maker; the 19th century mind saw 
H|  the world as a steam engine; the 20th century mind sees 
T|  the world as a computer. Now, it may be useful and even 
S|  fruitful to think this way, but we must never forget that 
||  reality is much more complex than any of our 
R|  technological creations. 
E|       The universe at times may be like a clock, but in 
S|  fact it is not a clock. Alfred Korzybski said "The map is 
E|  not the territory." So the point is that we have confused 
R|  our models with reality.
V|       The basic error with a defining technology is to 
E|  confuse our image of what we can engineer, what we can 
D|  build and create, with the way the world actually 
||  operates. This is a fundamental error because it prevents 
||  us from looking at the world, the way it really is in all 
C|  its complexity.
O|       And if we are going to learn to understand the Earth 
P|  in all her complexity, we will need to look at her 
Y|  realistically.
R|       TALBOT: Are there any other areas of imagery in 
I|  which we are deficient?
G|       ELBOD: There is another area. Its uncharted, a 
H|  region where we need maps, but don't seem to have any. We 
T|  don't even have the tools to make the maps.
||       TALBOT: What are you talking about?
1|       ELBOD: I'm talking about the limitations of the 
9|  language, English, to talk about emotions. In Shere 
8|  Hite's book "Women and Love", she said "There is no 
9|  complete language for emotions - very few of the nuances 
||  have been named. We are born into a culture in which 
B|  certain words, concepts are given to us as 'reality.' One 
Y|  tries to fit one's inner feelings into these words one 
||  has inherited and yet, are the concepts the best, fullest 
R|  possible? Or are they suffocating us?" She points out 
I|  that other languages do much better than English.
C|       I've noticed that the ways we do express emotion are 
H|  very strange. The terms are often financial terms, such 
A|  as "I've got a lot invested in this relationship" or "Is 
R|  this person worth it?" or "Don't my feelings count for 
D|  something?"
||       (In the background we could hear the band playing a 
d|  series of familiar military tunes which drifted across 
e|  our conversation like the smoke from the cookout fires.)
G|       I have talked before about this infernal muzak which 
A|  follows us everywhere.
R|       TALBOT: Yes, you have mentioned this. But what does 
I|  that have to do with emotion and language?
S|       ELBOD: (Ignoring me.) I think that maybe I am one of 
||  the few people who actually hears the muzak, but when I 
D|  listen, I hear songs of emotion, passion, lust, 
O|  infatuation, betrayal. I mean, didn't it ever strike you 
B|  as odd that we go about our very rational lives to this 
L|  background of very passionate songs, which no one seems 
E|  to hear?
||       TALBOT: I never noticed it.
A|       ELBOD: Exactly. Its as though the muzak were our 
L|  unconscious, saying what we don't know how to say.
L|       TALBOT: And how are we going to learn to say it?
||       ELBOD: Through synergy.
R|       TALBOT: What?
I|       ELBOD: I would call it "The Word Project." I want to 
G|  invent new words, revitalize some others, revive lost 
H|  ones. 
T|       I would like to create a forum, as it is called, on 
S|  a computer network, a network that can be hooked onto via 
||  phone by anyone with access to a computer. The forum 
R|  would not be limited to words about emotion but that 
E|  would be a major consideration. On this forum I would 
S|  like people to suggest either new words and definitions, 
E|  or just definitions which they can't think of words for. 
R|  Then other people could add their suggestions for 
V|  changing the word, or the definition, or what to call a 
E|  definition that has no name. The combined effort of 
D|  thousands of people is bound to come up with some unique 
||  words. And of course it will be up to the culture to sort 
||  out which words it is going to keep and which it will 
C|  ignore.
O|       In addition we may want to dig up lost words and 
P|  breath new life into them. I own a book called "Lost 
Y|  beauties of the English Language" by Charles Mackay which 
R|  lists a number of likely candidates. 
I|       Lewis Thomas called language the most uniquely human 
G|  of human creations since we all participate everyday. 
H|  Primitive societies considered the act of naming to have 
T|  magical powers. 
||       Science and the technical disciplines add hundreds 
1|  of words to the dictionary every year. It seems equally 
9|  appropriate that some new words should be added to fully 
8|  express a range of emotions. Why not try to create words 
9|  to fill in the gaps.? Why not have it be a joint project 
||  combining thousands of minds to map the uncharted waters 
B|  of our feelings? 
Y|       (As though to punctuate this thought, we heard the 
||  hiss of fire works rising in the sky. I could follow the 
R|  trail easily until the sudden bright explosion. Rocket 
I|  succeeded rocket; then the grand finale of light and 
C|  color and noise. With that the crowd disappeared almost 
H|  immediately and soon Kirk and I were the only ones 
A|  looking up at the night sky, looking at the debris left 
R|  on Main Street after the celebration.
D|       We went back to my car. As I drove home in the dark, 
||  I tried to remember what the road had looked like just 
d|  hours before in the daylight. I tried to remember or 
e|  imagine the landscape outside the sweep of my 
G|  headlights.)

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