Dangerous Spirituality 

Thurman’s spirituality was grounded not only in the beauties of the black experience, but grounded as well in the terrors of the black experience, as only someone living in Florida and Georgia could know them in 1915 and 1920 and 1930. At the same time, it was a spirituality that says: “And knowing all that, I also know that all human beings are one.”

This kind of strange combination of spiritual truth with hard political social truth led one young man in the 1930s to say this about Howard Thurman: “I’m disappointed in him. We thought we had found our Moses. And he turns out to be a mystic.” That’s the spirituality that gets people all riled up.

Source: Dangerous Spirituality | On Being

 Mass-Media, Communications, and Paranoia 

As Luhmann would observe the moment a system communicates its information that information becomes non-information and cannot be reproduced in the same way again. He makes the observation that in our modern hypermedia infotainment society the observation of news events now occur simultaneously with the events themselves. In an accelerated society one never knows what the causal order is: did the event produce the communication, or did the communication produce the event. It’s as if the future was being produced in a reality machine that communicates our information simultaneously and for all time. The desuturing on history from effective communication is rendering our society helpless in the face of events. More and more we have neither the time to reflect nor the ability to observe, instead we let these autonomous systems do our thinking for us while we sift through the noise of non-information as if it was our reality.

Corporate media in their search for the newsworthy end up generating reproductions of future uncertainties – contrary to all evidence of continuity in the world we know from daily perceptions (Luhmann, 35). Instead of news we get daily reports, repeatable sound bites of events that can be rewired to meet particular ideological needs of the reporters as they convey their genealogy of non-informational blips as if it were news of import.  The redundancy of non-informational reports are fed into the stream through a series of categories: sports, celebrities, local and national events, politics, finance, etc. as it reweaves the reality stories of the day through its invisible ideological conveyor belt as if for the very first time. As Luhmann tells us the “systems coding and programming, specialized towards selection of information, causes suspicion to arise almost of its own accord that there are background motives at work” (Luhmann, 38). Corporate media thrives on suspicion, on the paranoia it generates through gender, race, political, religious, national, and global encodings/decodings selected not for their informational content but for their contingent production of future fears.

Source: Niklas Luhmann: Mass-Media, Communications, and Paranoia | alien ecologies

For Ellull, likewise, technology is not a collection of devices or methods which serve human ends, but a nonhuman system that adapts humans to its ends. Ellul does not deny human technical agency but claims that the norms according to which agency is assessed are fixed by the system rather than by human agents. Modern technique, for Ellul, is thus “autonomous” because it determines its principles of action internal to it (Winner 1977: 16). The content of this prescription can be expressed as the injunction to maximise efficiency; a principle overriding conceptions of the good adopted by human users of technical means.

Source: New Substantivism in Philosophy of Technology