I read Sleeping Through a Revolution first, which was interesting because I was reading the Electric Ant through the lens of the notion of free will in a capitalist society. And this, tangentially, reminded me of several things.
I often think about the need to own our perception of reality when we are feeling that we have little control over our lives, and I mostly think of this lack of control in terms of the economic and political system in this country. For instance, I find it ridiculous that people won’t give money to homeless people if they suspect they’re using drugs or alcohol. If you’re living on the streets, you probably have very few options that won’t take a massive amount of patience, endurance and luck to overcome. You have very few things in your life that you can choose. You have very little free will. But you can control your perception of reality, and if drugs or alcohol make it easer to control your perception of reality, and/or make your reality a little better while you’re in a shitty situation, who am I to begrudge you a dollar?
The Electric Ant reminded me of the notion of free will in Christianity. I was taught that God knew everything and that God had a plan for everything that happened to us, good or bad. But inside of this, because we were humans, we had free will. (The rest of God’s creatures were not so lucky, they were the REAL electric ants.) This was utterly confounding as a child. If we had free will, what if we chose something that wasn’t in God’s plan? (“He knew you were going to do that too, that was part of his plan.”) This logic was like an infinity circle. In the end, Poole finally dies, as he was destined to, but not before exercising a series of fruitless exercises in free will.
A couple of other comments on Jonathan Taplin's article....first, using Dr. King's words to highlight the co-opting of music, film and artistry by internet magnate's?! I mean, come on. We're talking about the legacy of the enslavement of over 10 million people and their current enslavement in our country. Sure, the artistic and technological innovations in our society always get hijacked by capitalist entities who are posing as a way for people to better and empower themselves, but using Dr. King's words to call for a millennial awakening? Nauseating. Second, we all know where we live. This is nothing new, so although the article was informative, it's argument was tiresome. Millennials aren't sleeping through a revolution. They're just powerless against these forces because this is how our economy is set up.