(If you have never read “Breakfast Smoothies” you might want to read the short introductory page. Explanations about the most blatant lies usually follow the essay.)
I set the breakfast smoothies on the garden table in front of my neighbors. This morning Alicia has made a ‘build your own world’ smoothie.
“But we didn’t build this smoothie, Alicia did,” said Ben.
“He’s making a reference to a famous quote of Emerson’s,” Erica explained quietly.
Ben looked puzzled but kept his mouth shut.
Emerson used a lot of words to build a foundation for his ideas. He was at times exceedingly long winded – that was standard fare in his day. His paragraphs that were longer than the chapters in most novels today.
He explained his concepts in great detail and expanded on them until he got to the nugget of wisdom that we quote today. But the background was important to him.
Today there are no concepts and everyone is supposed to already know what is being talked about.
Ideas and ideals are reduced to a tweet.
We accept the fact that the average person’s attention span and depth of thought is no more than 140 characters. It’s like we are encouraging mediocrity. Everyone says, “Give me fewer words.”
Erica chimed in, “Like that movie where the emperor says to Mozart, ‘there are just too many notes cut some out’.”
That’s, right. Amadeus. There are just too many words for us to think about. Cut some out.
And then, when there are few enough words, everyone else quotes them. News agencies now pick up tweets and present them as well thought out commentary.
The world is doing a lot of typing. With a lot less thought.
“Maybe this is the million monkeys typing Shakespeare, 140 characters at a time,” suggested Ben.
Ben gave her that ‘why are you encouraging him look.’
I mean like the “build your own world” quote. People quote that today and don’t even think about what he meant.
“You know this, why?” asked Ben.
Because Emerson used half a million characters telling us to work out ideas for ourselves, to contemplate the nature of everything. He encouraged self-reliance and using nature as a model for our lives.
Today we all live in a world built for us by Television and Sports and Religion. We have no ideas of our own. We just go along with all the ideas told to us by our favorite sports announcer or religious preacher.
We let corporations build our worlds for us. We sit in front of the TV all evening and watch inane programing and then listen to the commentary on talk radio in the car on the way to work in the morning and then parrot back that commentary during coffee breaks and lunch. Someone else has built our world for us. We spend all day discussing reality show celebrities’ lives instead of living our own.
And then we tweet about it.
If Emerson were alive today, he’d be on Lexipro. The ideas come faster and faster and there is nothing well – formed about any of them. It’s just commentary passing itself off as concept. Opinion masquerading as knowledge. He actually called tweets, “penny-wisdom.”
Ben looked skeptical. “Emerson said that about tweets?”
Well… he would have.
“Thanks for the smoothie,” said Ben, getting up. “Tell Alicia she built a great one this morning. I’ve got to check Facebook.”
Emperor Joseph II: My dear young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.
Mozart: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?
In “Nature” Emerson said that we master our world by a penny-wisdom and while our digestion is good our minds have sunk to the level of a brute and we are selfish savages. (I’m paraphrasing but I think he was talking about fast food and tweets.)