Thursday, 25. January 2018
On Masekela and inner hype resistors

Hugh Masekela, probably Africa's greatest jazz trumpeter, died a natural death the other day. He, who in essence fled the - at the time - bloody country of his birth for many years, was able to return (from the land of Louis Armstrong, whom he i.a. befriended) without compromising his often hurtfully truthful themes in his works. (As in one of my favourites, "Stimela", describing the coal train, taking miners to Jo'burg for another months-long life-endangering stint to drill for coal & gold & phosphor.)

He seemed to have always been a very generous guy. He liked to speak & sing in his performances as well as display his mastery on the trumpet, as he does (both) in this South African song* of, for me, one of the best Blues singers Berlin (in fact: Germany!) has ever produced: Joy Denalane...

Rest in Peace, musically holy man!


So, here's the text for an Introduction to constructing your Inner Hype Resistors, a fictitious course I'd like to give any who are up for it. Not that I'm an expert on hype or the history of agit. propaganda through the last century or so, or on what the exact difference is between hype and fascist disinformation of the Nazi era. Or anything.

But I am, and for the longest time, have been a doubter; and you probably need a basic practical experience of healthy doubting, on a daily basis, before you take this course...

Here is a starting set of resistors for you to build as soon as you can. Each has two sections - first, how recognise the hype - in form of a question you need to honestly put to yourself - and last, how to then build resistance!

Hype can be...

  • DISTRACTING... = Do "breaking" news of some sort make you follow that "new ball" a little too effectively at a time when life seemed complicated, but perhaps solveable? If it's unexpected & perhaps even shocking, it may well be intended to distract you, to pull you away from the (truths of) other more general problems, for which a solution may be in fact be obvious or just around the corner; it's just that the hype mongers don't want you to see that. Resolution: Keep your eyes on the old ball! Focus your attention on what you find truly important & ignore the rest for the moment, or in a crisis. Finish up that thought/deed. You can always come back to the "new" big thing later.

  • FACILE! = Does a current "great" meme sound just right, easy to believe, servicing many of your wishes, continuously? Then it's probably hype designed to pull you in; resist by opening yourself to contradictory sources of info - follow news channels you dislike on social media, speak to proponents of contrary views. Get to know the "dark side".

  • DENIGRATORY!! = Does the grand movement grabbing your attention argue its agenda on the basis of stamping humanity or parts of it as idiotic or even sub-human? Then it's plumbing one of the most basic self-establishing drives individuals can have - believing in one's own (either already present, or soon-to-be-achieved) superiority/worthiness at the cost of putting down others. Hand in hand with the resulting denigratory impulse often comes an invitation by the hype to feel like a victim - the others have been putting me down for so long, now it's my turn! So, recognise this inner tendency and avoid self-pity; see others as potentials of understanding & cooperation rather than conspiring to hurt you. As a rule, that turns out to be true, once all sides have overcome their fears of each other; for the few people in your life who do really want to hurt you, (i) defend yourself while bringing the problem to a rapid conclusion, and/or (ii) research why the other guy is so set on your blood - did something happen a while back, that both of you need to address, perhaps with a neutral third person present?
Did that make any sense? As far as I'm concerned, I've decided to portion out a small part of my future focus on identifying hype generators - currently I'm re-evaluating my Twitter membership, for one.

(* and yes, it's available in English - a rescored drum 'n bass version, that will knock your layered winter socks off!)

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