One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Death of Magic Realism

It is a sea change, the kind of transformation that the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter said was caused by “gales of creative destruction.” In his model, systems change when new ideas, products, and technologies bring about the destruction of the old.

Amazing, sitting at a Presbyterian Church in downtown Portland, as part of the Linus Pauling Memorial Lectures … “bringing to Oregon’s cultural community the leading-edge thinkers – the scholarly, intellectual explorers. These are the risk takers willing to challenge the currently accepted norms of how we understand ourselves and our role as participants in the universe. The annual series is organized by the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy, a non-profit organization affiliated with Portland State University.”

This 75-year-old waste of human breath, David Pearce Snyder, yammered on and on about BIG Data, the new god, talking about the death of education, that higher learning or all those liberal arts things, well, not necessary today, and not in the future.

The future is about “waves of destruction,” as 1920′s  economist Schumpter called it. You know, destruction is easier than creating.

This audience was not young, and, well, it was all white, Gentile and Jewish, for sure. Laughing at canned jokes, and, well, this Snyder proves that one is both born and mentored to be a great teacher. He is not, using old Power Point slides and, well, at 1 hour and 30 minutes in, when I left, thank god, this person is talking about Revolution as in Information Revolution, the new normal is destruction and all this digital-info-data wealth, he had nothing to show for his talk, but static jokes, a bunch of US Census Bureau predictions, and guffawing. I have High School students who could have done a much better job.

He was listing off all those crimes, but again, he never called them crimes, and he never-ever questioned Capitalism, never brought up genuine progress, never looked at an arts based society, and like most of these futurist futzes, he forgot about climate change, 9 billion people, dwindling resources, total control by corporations, monopolies, and, well, poverty and slash and burn economics of the rich.

  • wages have been falling rapidly since 2000
  • median household income has been falling
  • 2007 the housing bubble popped (he blames us, of course, for that)
  • 2008-09 $60 trillion vanished from the world, one-quarter of it in the US of A

Salon.com reports on 2014 predictions by Futurist – you know, mumbo-jumbo about singularity, and love of surveillance and human intellectual slavery:

131001_FT_Prediction01Surveillance

1. Thanks to big data, the environment around you will anticipate your every move.

2. We will revive recently extinct species.

3. By 2020 populations will shrink, and wealth will shrink with them.

4. Doctors will see brain diseases many years before they arise.

5. Buying and owning things will go out of style.

6. Quantum computing could lead the way to true artificial intelligence.

7. Phytoplankton death will further disrupt aquatic ecosystems.

8. The future of science is in the hands of crowdsourcing amateurs.

9. Fusion-fueled rockets could significantly reduce the potential time and cost of sending humans to Mars.

10. Atomically precise manufacturing will make machinery, infrastructure, and other systems more productive and less expensive.

Pure junk, removed from culture, ethics, social justice, the reality of poverty, reality of consuming too much, reality of dead-sea scrolls ideas.

He was moving toward how higher education is too expensive, doesn’t teach what corporations want, and is a thing of the past, with all these delivery systems on-line ready to dumb-down and closet humanity into some chat room and bizarre ‘scape of mouse touches and joy stick stupidity.

Snyder is some editor at the magazine, The Futurist, and he thinks that Big Data, will generate 1.9 million jobs in the USA by 2015, and another 5.7 million new ones indirectly. He also says big data honchos are lamenting that only 1/3 of the jobs will be filled since USA kids don’t have the math, IT and cognitive skills to write apps and manage all that data.

Move over sociology, history, philosophy, arts, culture, thinking, debate, poli-sci, and the other learning systems – no need to have college since, well, only the rich can afford it, and, well, BIG Data needs workers:

Here’s his 2020 predictions,

  • we will be cashless/paperless
  • smart phones will be our medical ID and other ID wonders
  • Web 5.0 will be all about cloud computing, with large server centers dotting the landscape
  • electronic medical records systems will be complete
  • personal mobile technology will replace all textbooks
  • personalogies he calls it, chatting with technology
  • eEntertainment users and revenues will outstrip all live things, including sports, concerts, movies, plays
  • right now, 3 billion people are on the web, but better yet, the Internet of Things is here and coming on strong – 30 billion machines currently on the web communicating with each other.

It’s that Nazi-Little Eichmann thing – Anything that can be measured, well, all that has to be managed. It’s the riff from Jim Gray, from Microsoft, the guy lost at sea. All that unexamined data, exaflood, needs to be sifted through, and that is where the new science is – data intensive scientific discovery.

Snyder went on about how the Greeks first set up the foundation to scientific thinking — direct observation. Then, the age of Enlightenment took it to another level – experimentation. Next, in the 1960s, we get computer simulation. Then, 2007, it’s data intensive discovery.

This is how the game is played out – no mention of worth, no mention of worthiness, no mention of ethics, principles, duty to the weakest, protecting culture, developing real communities – water, transportation, parks, schools, homes, food, sanity, no more war, no more intrusions on our agency, independent lives.

These guys calling themselves futurists are, well, rotten.

So, what ya going to do about it? Anyone out there support my world – free education – all types – and slow money and permaculture, and arts communities? Anyone out there ready to throw their paradigms out? Maybe they win on some levels, but how many would even purchase my novels and books if I set up a web site? Some way to get you all chapters and some small compensation via old traditional ways?

How many people reading DV are serious about busting out of their transfinancial “breaking bad” world, one where new TV shit is all about new shows about the trials and tribulations of Silicone Valley? Or museums that put on stupid cat video shows (sic) and draw 10,000 and then say that is it, the way of the future, and not dumb-downing – really, heard it on National Jewish Radio (NPR) on the insipid Canadian hipster, dead from the neck down The Q!

How many are willing to support underground writing, a book or two as flowing and creative ways to show the way to young men, young women, some antidote to the Edu-Tainment of the future? These people like Snyder and his bosses in the Fortune 500 set and the foreigners, too, those running the ghost stories of capitalism from afar, that’s what they want – a skills economy, for corporations, no free thinkers, no one questioning the stupidity of cloud serving USA-EU. They want complete control of mind, matter, muscle, mendacity.

Here, the blurb on the talk last night, and I usually stay and go toe-to-toe with these schmucks, though this world is all about being nice and guillotine-ing any pugnacity. These people talk-talk-talk, but they want no boats rocked. But this Snyder was such an imp, going on and on, and the crowd just blurry eyed laughing at non-jokes. Oh, the white class, the whites, the race of stooges (sometimes I think that, yes – so what!).

For decades, corporate leaders, politicians and many educators have asserted that, in our emerging information-based economy, essentially everyone will require a post-secondary degree in order to earn middle-class wages.

However, Labor Department forecasts consistently show that – for the foreseeable future – more than half of all U.S. jobs will continue to require no more than a high school education! At the same time, job content analysis has shown that, from now on, ALL work will require a new set of “higher order cognitive skills,” including: systems thinking • problem analysis • team work • numeracy, applied creativity & Internet mastery.

These new skills – the Common Core Standards of learning for reading, math,    and science – will              eventually be required by all high school graduates – whether they choose to go directly into the workplace or go on to college.

Against this backdrop, Snyder describes how economically-stretched educators in both K-12 schools and post-secondary institutions are quickly adopting Internet-based technologies – including etextbooks, social networking, computer simulations, on-line games, Skype, “MOOCs,” modular curricula & certification, and artificial intelligence – to provide their students with both the traditional skills and the new competencies that they will need to meet the challenges of our rapidly evolving future.

Even more quickly, Snyder says, edupreneurs like Khan Academy, Coursera and edX are exploiting cyber technology to meet the exploding demand for career-enhancing, future-fulfilling knowledge. By 2020, our understanding of the content and form of education will have evolved substantially from today, and the successful institutions of learning will be those who have discovered how to meet society’s changing needs and expectations.

This is how these pukes work, really – break a system that needs fixing not dumping, and we need systems thinkers, girls and boys who know history, how to hammer a greenhouse together, how to raise catfish, how to put up a solar heater, how to add up the lines in a green edible schoolyard, how to survey, frame, build, jump, draw, mural, pen music, dance, run, mess around with animals and people and go to adult care facilities and help restore wetlands, and to build boxes and study bats and to dig up weeds and design butterfly gardens, and how to cook, how to write letters to congress people, how to monkeywrench, how to live low, how to develop debate skills, how to learn languages, how to commune, how to develop new economies and develop solutions.

Ain’t going to happen the Harvard President’s way, Snyder’s way, Bill Gates’ way, and all the other money hoarders’ ways. You know how much WORK we have to do, and none of it involves CPUs and microprocessors and data collecting and data crunching and data worshipping.

So, who wants an alternative, more prescient words, Gabriel Garcia Marquez thinking and writing (RIP)? Do we have the guts to start alternative ways of living, communicating, thinking, and, shit, consuming?

Or, do we rail and write and use this shitty internet to point out excesses, crimes, devolutions, and then, keep that same capital Capital M for misanthropy or money?

I wonder how many readers out there would try an alternative way of reading fiction and non-fiction, and that would be yours truly sliding into a new way to expose words and concepts?

Email me. Nod yes, or nod no.

You want Snyder’s fucked up world?

  • app writers
  • data scientists
  • sentimentanalysts (web site and social media lexicologists)
  • forensic hydrologists (fracking for natural gas experts)
  • medical note takers in accountable care
  • blended learning coaches – K12 and college non-educators helping blend classroom with on-line shit
  • sleep whisperers – on-line people who get paid to talk insomniacs into sleep
  • biosynthecists – genetic engineering tinkerers

These are the jobs of the future, and goddamnit, we have to get on with the pogrom, err, program. Mash-up with technology and rendezvous with austerity and all the other shit spewed from these guys’ mouths. Part-time, at-home, micro-businesses, all of it, that’s the world of BIG data.

Destroying is the big C in capitalism. No creativity, just more people hobbled and frog-tied by the conveyor belt of obsolescence, of virtual Gattica, of a world of brave digital worlds, people with bar codes tattooed to their asses.

Screw it. One point five hours with Snyder and his prognostications, and his smirk and bureaucratic and uncreative thinking, ahh, it’s all gone after rereading a Paris Review interview, 1981, with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You know, becoming a great artists with an on-line class, some robot mentor, something embedded in the brain with a 800 gigabyte microchip.

So, this Snyder thinks all education will be delivered through digital tablet, iPhones, robots. Imagine these people. I teach community college floundering folk, high school students, and I just substituted a fourth grade class. These kids need MORE humans around them. MORE-MORE-MORE. We need more nurses, doctors, physician assistants, natural docs, and more sociologists, more folk lifting and wiping and cajoling and talking and reading and acting and building and doing. NOT robots.

Crisis after crisis, solved with DIGTAL stupidity? Absurd, but the reality is these guys like Gates, Bezos, Snyder, they are right if we just turn over and show our collective flabby bellies to corporations, governments, the surveillance state. We have to fight them. They see it all as foregone conclusion.

We are so vapid, that we can’t even officiate high school and college sports. Story after story –a crisis in getting adults to come out and be officials at sporting events. Oh, Snyder sees the robots of the future doing all of that. Yes, even a national crisis of not getting enough people to officiate wrestling matches, girls’ basketball games, volleyball, soccer, football. This is a vapid society, one hooked to a screen, hooked to entertaining itself to death. Be happy, watch infantile shows, and look dumbfounded when everything starts shutting down, getting clogged, cracking, collapsing, burning, disintegrating.

Duh, it won’t happen on TV, in an MP3 player, on a screen, or through the Internet of Things. Is that not just fucking amazing? A trillion machines talking with each other by 2020?

NPR’s (National Jewish Radio) “Market Place” just lobs nerf balls to the Techies, all the great destructive things app writers are doing, Big Data has planned, and is it not just remarkable how much junk and how much soul-crushing crap TerraByte Leaders give the world? They are erasing humanity, really. Erasing all the dirty work of moving and eating and building. Everything goes better with 3-D printed Coke?

Amazing how vapid they are. So, again, voices, people — not robots — not digital death, are what count. Make them count. Stop the bleed, stop these money changers, stop them with their own weapons. Community kitchens, community lending, community schools, community pantries; job-share, ride-share tool-share.

These sorts of rarefied talks by creeps such as some “futurist”  are really just a bunch of cretins with their litany of census track, data track mumbo jumbo. Soulless and, well, these guys are not solutions based people. Statisticians and demographers with no souls. But they are facilitating the privatization of everything, which means, as you can imagine, the boss is not “we the people” but rather, “they the CEOs and their legions of think tankers, IT and Coder aesthetes.” With no regard to people but plenty regard for money-money, gentrifying, and games. Games in their own heads, games at their fingertips and the games of economic war.

People are clamoring for more human contact, no matter what the think tanks and government demographers and IT giants and Harvard Presidents tell us. Kids need more people time, more connectivity, more across disciplines learning. Not all to become Fulbright scholars, but to be community-based thinkers, downsizers, livers of life, and people who care.

Here, tribute to Garcia Marquez — the magic is the realism of his mind, and his own mind now words and memories, well, some of will tap into him and a million others. And, we have to stop these stupid talks, these people who lecture, these folk who are not engaged with real people, fourth grade teachers, home care aides, real inventors, writers, creative types. They need to be taken down many, many notches. Fear not, some of us do that, and not just in screeds like this. But will you kind DV reader support us when we are in public and hammer against what you might think are smart, sort-of-left, progressive-leaning folk who are so full of shit that, well, what can I say?

The left is the left that defends Israel: Listen to Dennis Bernstein, Flashpoints, and his guest from the Electronic Intifada!

Now,

Paris Review

Interviewer: I heard about one famous interview with a sailor who had been shipwrecked.

Gabriel García Márquez: It wasn’t questions and answers. The sailor would just tell me his adventures and I would rewrite them trying to use his own words and in the first person, as if he were the one who was writing. When the work was published as a serial in a newspaper, one part each day for two weeks, it was signed by the sailor, not by me. It wasn’t until twenty years later that it was re-published and people found out I had written it. No editor realized that it was good until after I had written One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Interviewer: Do you think the novel can do certain things that journalism can’t?

Gabriel García Márquez: Nothing. I don’t think there is any difference. The sources are the same, the material is the same, the resources and the language are the same. The Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe is a great novel and Hiroshima is a great work of journalism.

Interviewer: In interviews a few years ago, you seemed to look back on being a journalist with awe at how much faster you were then.

Gabriel García Márquez: I do find it harder to write now than before, both novels and journalism. When I worked for newspapers, I wasn’t very conscious of every word I wrote, whereas now I am. When I was working for El Espectador in Bogotá, I used to do at least three stories a week, two or three editorial notes every day, and I did movie reviews. Then at night, after everyone had gone home, I would stay behind writing my novels. I liked the noise of the Linotype machines, which sounded like rain. If they stopped, and I was left in silence, I wouldn’t be able to work. Now, the output is comparatively small. On a good working day, working from nine o’clock in the morning to two or three in the afternoon, the most I can write is a short paragraph of four or five lines, which I usually tear up the next day.

Interviewer: How did you start writing?

Gabriel García Márquez: By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of being a writer, though I never in fact wrote anything. If there was a pamphlet to be written or a letter of petition, I was the one to do it because I was supposedly the writer. When I entered college I happened to have a very good literary background in general, considerably above the average of my friends. At the university in Bogotá, I started making new friends and acquaintances, who introduced me to contemporary writers. One night a friend lent me a book of short stories by Franz Kafka. I went back to the pension where I was staying and began to read The Metamorphosis. The first line almost knocked me off the bed. I was so surprised. The first line reads, “As Gregor Samsa awoke that morning from uneasy dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect….” When I read the line I thought to myself that I didn’t know anyone was allowed to write things like that. If I had known, I would have started writing a long time ago. So I immediately started writing short stories. They are totally intellectual short stories because I was writing them on the basis of my literary experience and had not yet found the link between literature and life. The stories were published in the literary supplement of the newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá and they did have a certain success at the time—probably because nobody in Colombia was writing intellectual short stories. What was being written then was mostly about life in the countryside and social life. When I wrote my first short stories I was told they had Joycean influences.

Interviewer: Do you think that it’s common for young writers to deny the worth of their own childhoods and experiences and to intellectualize as you did initially?

Gabriel García Márquez: No, the process usually takes place the other way around, but if I had to give a young writer some advice I would say to write about something that has happened to him; it’s always easy to tell whether a writer is writing about something that has happened to him or something he has read or been told. Pablo Neruda has a line in a poem that says, “God help me from inventing when I sing.” It always amuses me that the biggest praise for my work comes for the imagination, while the truth is that there’s not a single line in all my work that does not have a basis in reality. The problem is that Caribbean reality resembles the wildest imagination.

Interviewer: Are there some lesser-known Latin American writers you especially admire?

Gabriel García Márquez: I doubt there are any now. One of the best side effects of the boom in Latin American writing is that publishers are always on the lookout to make sure that they’re not going to miss the new Cortázar. Unfortunately many young writers are more concerned with fame than with their own work. There’s a French professor at the University of Toulouse who writes about Latin American literature; many young authors wrote to him telling him not to write so much about me because I didn’t need it anymore and other people did. But what they forget is that when I was their age the critics weren’t writing about me, but rather about Miguel Angel Asturias. The point I’m trying to make is that these young writers are wasting their time writing to critics rather than working on their own writing. It’s much more important to write than to be written about. One thing that I think was very important about my literary career was that until I was forty years.1

  1. April 18th’s Democracy Now on Marquez. []

Paul Kirk has been a journalist since 1977. He's covered police, environment, planning and zoning, county and city politics, as well as working in true small town/community journalism situations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico and beyond. He's been a part-time faculty since 1983, and as such has worked in prisons, gang-influenced programs, universities, colleges, alternative high schools, language schools, as a private contractor-writing instructor for US military in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. Read other articles by Paul.