Saturday, November 17, 2007

Is Information Transformational?

I wonder about this. I spoke with someone in Austin about this. He was saying that he wished that he could kind of download all the information that had helped him to think differently into another person, hoping that they might change as well. He, of course, recognized that this was impossible and egotistical.

I responded with my skepticism of information being transformational. I sit here watching the cooking channel with my parents and I wonder if people cook better in the 21st century now that we have access to the top chefs in the world thanks to our boob-tube. Or do we still cook the same stuff?

I began to think about how there is now this market for eating better, living better, more green, more fit, more spiritually insightful, more prosperous and responsible....resources after resources to fit into this market. And alot of us read this stuff, eat this stuff, watch this stuff. But are we changing? Or does this information actually keep us from changing, essentially guaranteeing that the market will never become obsolete?

It immediately feared what this means for my music and I pitching ideas–a way of life–to people that are fictional? What I mean is this: Is there any change happening because I help some people connect the dots of information and conviction? Or am I actually just keep that transformation at a distance in such a way as to necessitate me coming in once a year to talk about it again?

Do you see what I mean? If success looks like people realizing themselves and living into their truest self, then wouldn't I eventually be out of a job if that's what I'm helping them to do?


Anonymous said...

I don't think information will ever be transformational as long as it stays in our minds alone... it needs to percolate through mind and into being, into doing.

Lora said...

we have the information that flossing is good for our teeth and gums, can save us pain and money and even our actual teeth...does the info alone spur us to incorporate the use of floss into our daily routine? apparently not or many dentists would be out of biz. the additional mysterious ingredient is some sort of value we recognize or choose to give to the behavior, the value of which we have decided to count as greater than the "value" of not doing the behavior ("flossing is a hassle, i just want to get into bed").

so no, info alone is rarely (never?) enough...the mysterious value ingredient is necessary, and can not be given, forced, prescribed or transferred to can be demonstrated, modeled, lived, offered, invited...but not mandated.

Michael said...

Just for the sake of conversation, I am going to take a contrary position. Not sure I believe anything I am about to write, see how it sounds ...

Of course it is transformational. If a piano is falling from the sky and likely to land on you, receiving this information can transform your life.

When we are not able to live in the way we imagine we would like to live, it isn't the impotence of information that is at fault.

When I live without flossing my teeth, in the face of information that this is a bad idea, I don't feel like the problem is "moving it from my head to my heart". The problem is that I need a plan. My first plan, "I'll just hope that my desire for good teeth in 30 years is strong enough to keep me flossing", didn't work.

At this point I don't need to know in my heart that I should floss. I know it in my gut, and language about getting it deeper into my heart kind of shuts me down. Because I suspect that at this point, putting it more into my heart is just going to make me more guilty, because I'm still not going to floss, but now I will be *really* be sorry.

But if I figure out a way to incorporate flossing into my routine, then maybe I have space to let the importance of flossing sink deeper into my heart.

The desire that somehow information alone would enable us to do the right thing is almost like a wish to not be alive -- a wish to be a machine which processes and responds to information.

However, instead of talking smack about information, maybe we should realize all the information out there we are missing.

In the case of flossing, I have learned that simply the knowledge of a far off future good is not enough for me. That can be transformational information. When I don't live the way I think I should according the information I have, it is isn't the impotence of information which is revealed, but rather my lack of information about how this me, this bundle of stories both hidden and proclaimed, moves through the world.

Talking to people who were trying to figure how who he was and what it meant, Jesus seemed to imply that the missing ingredient, the one that would make truth liberating instead of condeming, was to walk in his way. "IF you hold to my teachings ... THEN you will kow the truth and the truth will set you free"