How do you contribute?

Riemen hopes to raise essential questions about the quality of information, in some small way, restore meaning to language.
  • Transcript

TRANSCRIPT

Question: How do you contribute?

Rob Riemen: The world is a big place. So if I very modestly can, you know, narrow it down to the Netherlands which is very small, not very important country in terms of the Nexus Institute. One of the things we discovered is there are a lot of things in . . . in the world of media and culture, there are a lot . . . And in education, a lot of things are going wrong on the side of the suppliers. I don’t want to insult anybody, but you know politics, producers, media moguls and so on and so forth . . . for whatever reason they think people are stupid. Or they consider themselves as not interested in certain things. And because they are not interested in it, they think that people are not interested in it. So why should we provide them with . . . It should be easy. It should be accessible, and so on and so forth. And with a lie we think that this is a form of democracy. It has nothing to do whatsoever with democracy. It’s a stupid form of marketing. My experience is that a growing group of people everywhere – also here in America – is hungry for quality, but in such a way that they don’t have the feeling that somebody is completely obtrusive, and tells them with a certain authority you have to think this or you must do that or whatever. So I wanted to create a forum where we can (A), raise the quintessential questions everybody is confronted with; (B) get the opposites together around the table, or at least a rich variety of people. And so one of the things we say is look, we are there to make life a little bit more difficult. Because at the end of the day you will not have any answers. But you will realize probably better what the premises are, what the consequences are, and that there are no easy answers to big problems, or to big questions. Already the awareness I think is an important thing, and the institute in the Netherlands is a huge success. Now a little bit more on my . . . on the level of me as an individual – the talks I am allowed to give at the Aspen Institute, the book I’ve been writing and working on. I hope that my contribution is that I can be helpful in giving back meaning to certain words, because that’s . . . that’s so important. One of the big influences of mass media, and in mass society, is that as we just discussed, you know words have lost their meaning, like “love”, like “friendship”. There is an enormous form of reductionism going on. And it is . . . which is a terrifying phenomenon. A lot of the . . . What we have had anti-Semitism, and in many ways there is still a lot of anti-Semitism in Europe and a lot of other places. In Europe we are also dealing with the phenomenon of anti-Americanism according to the latest polls. And also anti-Americanism is simply based on the fact that you are dealing with an enormous reduction of, you know, a complex reality. And this form of reductionism makes it one-sided, narrow minded. And we don’t longer have the capacity to understand what the idea of America is all about. Now this is the same for all kind of other words.

 

Recorded on: 10/3/07