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Douglas Rushkoff-- Present Shock and Presentism: Interview Transcript

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Rob Kall: (interjecting) And you said in your book, using this, and adopting this idea (which I think is described by Dr. [unknown name]) [has] actually increased your effectiveness about 40%. That was incredible!

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah my word count is -- I wrote less days, but my total word count went up. I think what writers have to do is realize there is no such thing as writer's block - there's just the wrong time to write! If you can accept that - that if you're not writing, it's because your supposed to be doing something else. Maybe you're supposed to be researching, or experiencing, or germinating, or thinking, or something else. Usually it's because you're forcing it. Right? You're out of synch. And yeah, you can push through; you can take a Dexedrine or Adderall, and usually blast right through that writer's block. Because what does speed do? Speed breaks through time! (laughs) Right? It takes you out of time, it creates an artificial acceleration. Burt eventually, unless you're using it on special occasions, it catches up with you.

Rob Kall: OK. I'm going to jump ahead, because we only have so much time left, and I'm really interested in "Fractalnoia." In Fractalnoia, you talk about fractals and how the fractal way of perceiving connections and multiple layers helps people find patterns where they connect to other things, and that leads to conspiracy theory. Can you talk about Fractalnoia and conspiracy theory?

Douglas Rushkoff: Yeah. It's funny - I was listening to a late night radio show, one of those great conspiracy shows about aliens and all that stuff. And this woman called in, and she was talking about the nuclear power plants in Japan - you know, when the Tsunami came and flooded them, and then they had the fires, and blew up - and she was saying that she figured out how it all fit together. Right? The Japanese hadn't signed a certain trade agreement, and Obama was angry at them for that, so they used the HAARP station (it's this communications experiment going on in Alaska that's shrouded in mystery) to change the weather and create the tsunami, because these chem-trails that come out of the back of airplanes that allow them to conduct electricity better in the atmosphere, and then control the weather in this way - and that's where these hurricanes have been coming from, and..

And it was just bizarre! And I realized she was trying to make sense of the world, of all these different pieces of the story - that are all out there, but she was doing it in the present tense! She was doing it by trying to draw lines between things. When you have a cause and effect, when you have linear time, you can understand things through stories, through the kind of narratives that we were talking about. Not constructed narratives, but "This led to that, led to this, led to that." There's enough time in the feedback loops of a regular culture to really parse the cause and effect. "This led to that, and that led to this!" When things are happening instantaneous[ly] in an instantaneous feedback loop, you can't move that way anymore. You can't understand things through a story, you have to understand things through the "snapshot." You see things as a still life, and you end up just drawing pictures, drawing lines between those things.

Rob Kall: And it's the connections, you're saying, that are proliferating so much.

Douglas Rushkoff: Right.

Rob Kall: You say in this chapter, "While we may blame the internet with the ease that conspiracy theories proliferate, the web is much more culpable for the way it connects everything to almost everything else. The hypertext link (as we used to call it) allows any fact or idea to become intimately connected with any other. New content online no longer requires new stories or information, just new ways of linking things to other things." And I have to say: I'm struggling with this now.

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