A Refutation of Professor Carney’s Vision
Professor Ray Carney’s lecture on fake and real emotions just begs to be argued with, and in my case, argued against. It almost seems like the only logical thing to do. And I don’t know that he would accept that as a basis for argument. Right off, I would say that Carney’s position that Americans need to accept what it given to them and presented to them would by default eliminate any non-acceptance of his claims. But that is just what I’ll do.
I would say that Carney tries to lure readers in by first stating something obviously true, and then trying to attach an irrational or improbable idea to it. I guess that he truly does expect his listeners to “want to be told what to think and how to feel,” to quote him. I don’t believe this for an instant. Imagine a life or culture without art critics and movie reviewers. Imagine there being no students in America beyond the compulsory educational level. That is exactly what Professor Carney is attempting to get us to believe. As I stated above, he is trying to lure us in and to abandon our reason. “We are being manipulated (by the culture)” he writes. O.K., there’s nothing wrong with that. One can be manipulated every single day in the western culture. In fact, almost by its very definition, artwork whether in pixels, sound bites or digital movies, seeks to manipulate us to its own message. I have no reasonable argument with that and so must concede the point. But then Carney goes on to say that, “…we love it.” Is that so? Are the two mutually inclusive? I would hardly believe that. It is as if theft occurred every day and we blamed the victims for ‘loving it’ just because it happened so frequently! This is an absurd attempt at logical argument. The hijacking of ideals, as he would put it, must automatically mean that we must be hijacked of reason as well. Again, although this could be possible, it certainly can’t be proven to be probable. A statement made without evidence is merely a claim, not evidentiary itself. Perhaps Carney feels that if we do fall for it, then his point is proven. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and he can congratulate himself. I am here to ensure that doesn’t happen.
What do we have to compare my point of view to, and refute his with? Again, let’s use his statements and purpose against him. What more does he have to say about art? Art deprives us of our ideals. He connects this with the fact that ideals are hard; they are too challenging to us. In other words, we are lazy and simply gravitate to the media which will make our minds up for us. Really? This is really self-serving. Again, consider some proof. Carney says that we follow ‘bumper sticker substitutes for thought.” O.K., if this is so, then there must be only one point of view expressed on these stickers. And we must all believe what that one point of view is saying. That is the only possible understanding of what he has said. Yet we only have to drive through a parking lot for a moment or two to see something else displayed through this artistic medium. Pro-war. Anti-war. Pro-President. Anti-President. It looks like there is a mixed message out there. So what do we believe? We can’t believe opposing schools of thought. Could it be that we engage our minds to wrap around our freedom by choosing one way or the other? That is impossible, says Carney. But it is the only solution. It is not possible, it is not probable, and it is fact. Plain and simple.
This even works on the end of Professor Carney’s lecture. Emotions that are felt at the end of movies and music are contrived he says. They’re real, but they’re fake. That is really hedging a bet. He can’t have it both ways. Where he says that emotion is all in our head and that it is simply a response to a manipulation, I would say, so what? Isn’t emotion a response to stimuli? Isn’t that in our head and isn’t that what makes us human? It is our connection to art, our connection to culture and our personal expression of it. That is art, and that is life. Professor Carney is wrong.
Carney, Prof. Ray. “The Difference between Fake and Real Emotions in Life and Art.” Ray
Carney’s Carney on Culture. 23 May 2010