A Serious Post

There has to be one every now and then.

Back in the 1980-90’s I used to go on the TV very occasionally and talk about the great things coming up in The Future. I predicted DVDs, buying online by credit card, music sites and CDROMs. It was fun to do and no great blunders apart from trousers.

Let’s say somebody asked me to do that now, what would I be able to offer? In the future …

… more of the same. Actually, bugger all. Wasteland. Which may be surprising – surely we are hotly anticipating new phones? I mean the iPhone 5 will have a bigger screen! (How did we ever get so obsessed about telephones?)

Create shipping lanes and people build ports. Create railways and people make stations. Create roads and people make service stations. Create phones and people make apps. Wait – surely there’s the main reason – to get from A to B? There is, but how often do you hear that discussed? The new iPhone – you can phone people with it! No, the discussion is about how you can make money setting up the equivalent of an Econolodge – The Angry Birds Inn. The New Economy is just the hot shots playing another level of Transport Tycoon (and you’re a Sim) and I ain’t gonna go on TV about that.


Before anyone thinks I’m saying that DVD represents a golden age of creativity I should clarify my disappointment with all the things I touted back in ye olden days. DVD can hold movies, music, pictures and interactive work. You can make a maze of animated menus and even semi autonomous music machines – I did. The format was very occasionally exploited and mostly when it was new. Blu Ray has similar potential, but that’s already sliding into rot alongside the railway stations in country towns. The Internet could be a place where people build a hive mind to solve world problems. It is instead a cesspit of bigots and YouTube comments. I don’t blame myself for being a pollyanna, but I’ve grown wiser.

Technology is an empty vessel. Transport makes money, always did. We passengers think that by travelling we are on a quest. But we’re not. We switch vehicles, but that’s not progress.

Education bears some responsibility for this. Over on one side you have people teaching complete voodoo like Lacan. Hey look at this meaningless diagram I made up! It explains how people watch movies! Here’s a bunch of jargon! On the other side you get people like me that teach how to hold a camera steady and make 3D robots and explosions. The two groups don’t talk much, except to point out each other’s bullshit.

Neither side is really taking care of the artistry, mainly because there’s not enough time. We also have to ignore the next industry standard tools in favour of finding the useful imperfections in the current one.

In the last few years I’ve noticed a steady decline in people wanting to study communications and a steady incline in studying public relations. My own courses are slowly evolving – less philosophy, more marketing. We still use cameras and I still talk about epistemology but instead of the student understanding what it means to manufacture Truth, they just want to know how to do it. Creativity has been shown worthless, something you download for a donation, something measured in Likes, something of which you can have 100,000 in your hand. To hell with creativity! A financier is worth a million balladeers! Who needs films anyway! The students are shifting their creative urges into something sensible.

There’s no point going on the TV and predicting the future coffins in which we will bury our artistic urges. They wouldn’t have me anyway.

Education is in a real mess. You can’t really teach art to hundreds of people in a room, and ‘blended online learning’ is no substitute for mentorship. You don’t get the time to think about what really needs to be said and it wouldn’t fit into the course as it’s been pre-sold. At some point I have to stop wasting my time. I’m currently agonising over keeping my job or doing my job, because it seems you can’t have both.

Keeping the job means running around trying to keep up the administration and research ‘strengths’ and remembering what the hell this week’s lecture was supposed to be about. Art gets done from about 9pm each night.

Doing my job means …

5 thoughts on “A Serious Post

  1. I cannot agree with you any more wholeheartedly. The Twilight Zone episode is THE perfect cherry on the icing…

  2. Peabody is right, it is bleak. The problem is the choice – academic pursuits are not valued in this economy. The dollar speaks! Nothing new there, but when it erases creativity well – smacks of a track called Anti Intellectualism (see I can’t spell with several degrees).

    See as unrealistic as a Severed Heads appearance at the 2012 Big Day Out Boiler Room to drown out Kayne and Kasabian (which is wise but bare with me I won’t be asking for reforming that is so last May), you hit the nail on the head (to use a cliche to avoid reaching the point quick); people want to know how but not why to do something.

    Why? Well, I don’t know the answers, but is meaning associated with income. Not really. Arts degrees from literature to composition to gender scare employers. My god do you really want to turn out students who question the ethics of your new business processes designed to suck cash out of consumers?

    But………..its choice. Play the university game and get the chance to do something you really want in between making sure you reach KPI’s – the alternative is a Severed Heads reunion, and please don’t do that, you would be surprised that some actually respect your decision not to.

    Remember, we go into academic work with stars in our eyes and come out like we have been on Monty Python’s conveyer belt towards the rotating knifes. But whilst you may not have the Double Bay mansion and be in some nursing home, I would rather look upon a body of work before having to meet the maker and go yeah that’s wonderful. I take that with me when I go, not the mansion.

    My advice (and yes I know you don’t listen), take the chance and stay in academia, do the Doctorate no matter what it throws up and tolerate the mindlessness of those that either don’t know what you are doing or want to stop it. It may be soul destroying when students want you to show them show you sampled X on Barbara Island or whatever rather than the deep meanings behind why they should, and remain insular and steadfast. But there are always reunions of……….oh hang on, like a broken record/CD/DVD/Blue Ray/Whatever

    PS: I know this is teeth grating but J Edgar Hoover, one of your moments of pure genius. Now enough of SH do the doctrate and piss in the pockets of those that support you. Sorry to nag, but, perhaps don’t let anyone comment next time.

  3. I also note my spelling and grammar is appalling in bits. My apologies, but I am more interested in the meaning of grammar, not how its done. Feel free to delete it all but remember this; Dr after your name may not make you CEO of anything but it sure as hell makes you CEO of Ignoring Ignorance.

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