Form Over Function: The Loss of Common Sense
I am standing at an intersection. A red light tells me not to cross.
I look left and right. I can see clearly that there are no cars coming from any direction for miles. Still, I stand there and wait for the light to change.
I wonder, “Who is the boss here?” Is it me, or is it the mechanical light? I am not thinking. I am not using common sense. I am blindly obliging to some rule that someone else made.
I wonder if technology makes us think less and less because it “thinks” more and more for us.
Popular media publishes articles about the danger of robots taking over the world, I wonder if we are not becoming robots ourselves.
This moment at the intersection made me start to observe and then think about what I had observed: it seems that the more developed a country is, the less its people use common sense. They do not think—they just react to stimuli. They rely on ready-made concepts from their education to solve problems. My former colleagues from the academic world when confronting a problem, used concepts from literature as a ready-made solution. It looked as if they were having a solution looking for a problem rather than having a problem looking for a solution.
When I work in a developing country, it is much easier to discuss problems with its people and look for solutions creatively. there is lots of common sense.
For those of you familiar with the PAEI theory, here is what I think is causing this development.
Modern education and technology are too ( Our education system is still focused on a model that encourages students to “learn to know” rather than “learn to learn”. The more an individual is educated by this system, the more the individual becomes what is called in Hebrew an egel melumad, a learned calf or, in Serbian, a trained dancing bear. In other words, when we are educated by this system, we become mechanistic. We do not use our intuition and rather respond to programmed stimuli…
When engaging in (A) driven behavior, we are driven by external stimuli. In comparison when engaging in (I) driven behavior, we are listening to our own thoughts and feelings.
When driven by (A), we do not think; we follow whatever the “rules” are. An excess of (A) creates technocrats and bureaucrats and, on a national level, Nazis who do not think or have a heart, but instead, engage in robotic behavior driven by an ideology.
Too much (A) drives out (I).
If I extrapolate how this phenomenon of “(A) driving out (I)” maps onto the field of art, I find that form is driving out content. For example, increasingly American movies are exciting form with meager content; They have stunning special effects, with a shallow story.
I think that this trend of “form taking over function” or “form taking over content” appears in modern art, too. Modern art pieces are comprised of form and interesting color combinations, but they do not touch my heart— they are visually pleasing, but that is all. The most extreme example I have seen of this shift was a painting displayed at the Venice Biennale: a completely blank canvas the same shade of white as the wall. That is all. I know the artist was trying to convey something, but what? I have no idea.
Maybe I am just a nostalgic old man, stuck in the past, refusing to accept the new world. Maybe, who knows.
Ichak Kalderon Adizes