Monday, January 02, 2006

It isn't just me

Seems there's a Dane, science writer Tor Nørretranders, whose "big idea" (scroll down) contributed to the perennially tantalizing and generally pretty interesting end-of-the-year question was a lot like an aspect of what I've been blogging about. Instead of talking in terms of "prestige" and "influence" being prime motivators, Nørretranders speaks of "social relativity." And where I (granted uncharacteristically) extrapolate toward Utopia, Nørretranders extrapolates toward doom. I guess that's sort of the Scandinavian ethos. They do get less sunlight over there.

I offered my off-the-cuff to the Edge answers as a whole in a comment over at the intellectually lofty anthropology blog Savage Minds.

I skimmed them all, excepting a few artists and religiously minded folks, and didn’t find a single idea that wasn’t at least a little familiar, and the redundancy and recurrence of closely related big ideas relating to evolution and the soul and being animals and the unconscious was enormous. What’s going on? I doubt society has become less inventive. I imagine ideas and information now spread far and wide so fast, and theorizing is so professionalized, compared to the 19th-20th century turn, that there might be less diversity of notions or at least fewer surprises. Or are people more proprietary about their ideas than before, so no one with anything worth a book deal would broadcast it in such a forum? Or are people as proprietary as a century ago and this project was doomed undazzling from the start? If none of the above, I’d settle for the conclusion that I’m just exceptionally well read and thoughtful. [I'm not well read, in the sense of having read a lot, but I've read eclectically, make good use of breezy summaries, and I suspect my interests are highly aligned with Edge publisher John Brockman's, because they're fashionable]

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