Jonathan Franzen on Technology

by Nick

From “How to be Alone”:

Television and other modern technologies are ingratiating and effortless, are designed to enable and promote passivity, and, being corporate enterprises, are burdened with none of the troublesome scruples or complexity that individual talent are. The answer on a deeper leve, however, is that a new compact has been made. We have agreed to let technology take care of us. Technology takes its cue from medicine, which, when it cannot cure, seeks to relieve suffering as efficiently as possible. And so we have a society in which the pain of knowledge is only increasing (because the society is getting more savage and less controllable, and the future ever less imaginable, and–most important–the individual worrying consciousness ever more isolated from others like it), which already puts a nearly impossible burden on structures such as the Bible and The Brothers Karamazov and Beethoven and Matisse, which were designed to account for everything in humanity but not for science and technology. And, relations between the public and art never having been exactly comfortable, it’s understandable that a large segment of the population not wait around for some genius writers and artists to come up with more adequate structures, but should instead take comfort in the powerful narcotics technology offers in the form of TV, pop culture and in the long run only make the society’s problems worse.