How primitive and dumb is mankind?


Notley, 2013 by Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (at Whitney exhibition)                                               (c) Pэryp@tet!k Media

Yesterday, we went to the opera. Macbeth by Verdi (more soon). In case you don't know, Macbeth wasn't satisfied with becoming king. He had to have his sons follow him as king. This was so important to him that he murdered a series of people in the hope of achieving this end.

Today I am in a completely different world, translating a text for a school. The text contains various examples. I assume they are typical, i.e. representative of a large swath of the population. The text is partially related to leasing. Mr. Car Lessee is about to receive is leased car. While I have modified the name for reasons of confidentiality, the author really did use a name as dumb as that. Maybe even dumber (with an alliteration). Anyway. Mr. Leasee is excited about this. He "sets aside the entire afternoon of this day." We are given insight into his mind: "This is a REALLY SPECTACULAR EVENT." (modified for confidentiality)

Is this what people live for nowadays? I understand it maybe with young people, maybe by the first car? But such a text in an educational establishment must be designed for various demographic groups? Is this what 30, 40, 50 and 60 year-old men and women in the context of business have left to look forward to in life?

This is not addressed to people in the arts, social work and academia. But they are by far a minority of the population. Even though translating is related to business in some ways, the absence of an office and sales and meetings, etc. along with an aesthetic project in which we chase the sublime means that there is a substantial difference between commercial translation and business. So I am not representative. I also don't own or care about a car. Certainly wouldn't classify it as great.

But am I in the minority?

Or is this another one of these cases where an industry is using its tools to shape the perception of mankind. And mankind is either unwilling, unable, too tired (!), too uneducated (!) or too active/busy (!) to gather the manipulation.

Although my friends and acquaintances strongly disagree with me, I claim that this is the case with sofas (they are not comfortable; too much strain on lower back), seats in cars (they are designed for the worst possible posture, especially for tall people), ergonomic chairs (also wrong; back needs a rest during day no matter what chair you have), salt in self-cooked food (you need LOTS of it; stimulates brain), electrosmog (do not sleep with your cell phone on under any circumstance; ideally sleep in basement or room with tinfoil on the walls), depression (of any kind) as something to be avoided at all costs (rather than a way to ensure fluctuations around neutral or stability to avoid perpetual stimulus) and other cases that aren't occurring to me spontaneously as I write this. In most of these instances, an industry has led us to believe that it is addressing our concerns or the issue is irrelevant (doubted only by lunatics). In fact, however, the starting point has been established in a way such that it impossible for mankind to escape.

It is not possible to purchase the right chair or have the right seat in a car, restaurants are virtually prohibitted from serving salt, electrosmog is almost universal, failure to be active/stimulated entails social ostracism.

Henry Whittlesey


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