fragment 0021: Charles Newman

Now the intelligence fraternity has taken a great deal of abuse in recent years, and while I can hardly add a laurel to their brow, I ought to point out that they were often ahead of their time. By this I mean that they were among the first to suffer from the affliction primarily responsible for the disintegration of the modern personality – when the ability to collect information greatly outstrips our ability to make any sense of it. I myself must confess that I do not know of a single decision, personal or political, which can be improved by more information. The modern way to keep a secret is, after all, to surround it with trivia. Information makes it easier to make real events and hide meaning. Ours is the age of ultimate, unobtrusive continual surveillance. Never before have so many been overheard and so much written down. Never before has behavior been so closely observed and recorded. And yet never in history was there a vaster contrast between the extraordinary precision of our diagnosis, and the recalcitrance of the data from which nothing could be learned, much less prognosticated.

– In Partial Disgrace


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