Giving Grannies the Magic Finger

7 03 2007

Rants and spin about other folks’ lies, truths, fists and noses are more than ever in the news.

Individual grannies and cab drivers for example — to avoid fingering homeschoolers AGAIN! — can get plenty pushy with their unsolicited counsel in any enclosed space, a real pain in the neck and back. Formed into tight knots of special interest to pressure us with their unions and associations like the Teamsters and the AARP, they become not merely personal pains but fearsome public pains pressuring the body politic.

“Shiatsu” massage literally means “finger” and “pressure.” I think this matters somehow — that we need to finger anyone pressuring us, that finger-massaging issues increases healthful bloodflow to the affected area, perhaps that massage is both hard and soft science, something that is both healthy and fun, feels good and is good for us?

But I hate to be pressured and I believe everything IS a matter of degree, including the minute difference between what’s healthy and what hurts us all.

To take and keep responsibility for my own (health, family, thinking, speech, choices, investments, behavior) and likewise respect without constant rancor the right of others to do the same, it’s not enough to ignore or brush externally inflicted pains off, and it’s too much to pound them until we all hurt worse, so what to do?

In mostly roundabout ways that’s what I blog about at Culture Kitchen, in developed essays like this and this, but also in off-the-cuff commentary like this:

THE MESSAGE IS GREATLY IMPACTED BY HOW YOU SAY IT!
Liza wrote something beautiful for last New Year which you may want to read in full before trying to make sense of this comment from that blog encounter:

McLuhan was a master of aphorisms, and like Heidegger, he loved wordplay. The title of his best-selling book The Medium is the Massage is no exception. Maybe he was making a statement about the way that the media massage or pummel us, or perhaps he was making a pun on the new “mass-age.”

Pausing here in wordplay to note that Liza’s epiphany came doing yoga, not getting a massage, yet it’s intellectually appealing to reframe yoga as self-massage, i.e. using your own body and mind to create your own healthy stimulation and heightened state of wellness, rather than just being serviced prone and passive, with all the energy generated from the outside force acting upon you.

Maybe then, the political noise machine is electronic message massage akin to the tacky Magic Fingers of a motel bed? — and our collective challenge is what to do about all the folks feeding it quarters in the cheesy dark, satisfied to lie around expecting the next media buzz to friction up some externally created (but better-than-total-atrophy?) circulation in their sluggish bodies and minds.

Hardly equivalent either in terms of potential health creation or detrimental side effects, though don’t we all know Thoughtless Idiots who’d define the central mechanism as the same for both, and declare themselves done for the day?

Which is why I argue the political noise machine is actually an overlooked form of public education and imperils us all, schooling or not, but I digress . . .

More on McLuhan–

In any case the underlying notion is that the message is greatly impacted by the delivery system. Some would understand this position to be the ultimate in media determinism.
If the content is obliterated by the channel, “what” we say is of little importance-only “how” we chose to deliver it.
McLuhan’s belief in technological determinism is obvious by his phrase, “we shape our tools and they in turn shape us” (quoted in Griffin, 1991, p. 294).

Thinking further that Marshall McLuhan’s wit and wisdom can fit neatly into a progressive playbook alongside the old adage about the stock market, that when even grandmothers and cab-drivers are giving hot stock tips, the ride is over, time to bail!

Then you nurse your (hopefully non-fatal if you were smart and quick enough) wounds, then quietly, wisely figure out the NEXT right moves through which you can confidently and comfortably invest your personal assets for growth.

It probably will be Python-esque, as in “and now for something completely different!” Assuming we’re smart enough and quick enough, as opposed to the usual stock market dynamic — looking back desperately to what would have been the LAST right move.

Being the idea-omnivore and lithe self-massage practitioner that family unschooling has allowed me to be for the last 15 years or so, I’m noticing that the partisan noise machine these days is big even with grandmothers and cabbies.

So I’m scoping out completely different investment vehicles for my own treasures (my children, principles and ideas) now, searching for resonant hybrid designs, with low ground-floor risk and great growth potential — while avoiding like the plague the media noise machine, which I’ve learned the hard way would give us a wild ride, an andrenalin rush and a couple of thrills as it crashes with Grandma and the kids sitting right beside me, screaming.

Liza’s new design concepts sound just right for new adventures in, um, self-massage? Maybe we’ll become the Next Hot Thing ourselves, if we rub up some real shine, sort of “motley fools for the marketplace of ideas” . . .

(first appeared Aug’06 at CK)

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