Zeitgeist – First London Lecture
Posted by Ben On July – 27 – 2009
Whatever your views on the subject presented by either of the two Zeitgeist films, one thing is beyond doubt – they certainly have appealed to the “spirit of the age” that their titles allude to, garnering by far the most views of any feature film released on the internet so far.
After the 2007 release of “Zeitgeist”, Google Video racked up 50 million views of the film, before resetting its counters. Its director Peter Joseph estimates that by now the film has been played around 80 million times worldwide, not counting the numerous free DVD copies made by fans or given out at events such as last year’s Z Day event on the Ides of March.
The 2008 follow-up “Zeitgeist Addendum” released in October of that year, already sits at almost a million views on several Youtube accounts, whilst Google Video’s numbers on all its content seem to have been moved out of sight. The total view count is estimated by Joseph again to be around the 30 million mark. Not bad for 8 months of exposure unaided by any of the established media outlets, and with absolutely no formal advertising campaigns whatsoever.
In the 2 years since the first movie was released, a movement of some 300,000 people from a variety of countries has been born from the thought processes and views expressed in the movies. Given that Joseph, a deliberate art school drop-out, originally simply made the film as an art project, and “flung it up on the internet” without a second thought to the global chain-reaction it would set off, nevermind the perfect timing of the horrors of an historic downturn whose epicentre was the very New York Joseph calls his home, he must wake up every morning with the phrase “Holy shit, how crazy is THIS?!” His continual reassertion that he is “just some guy” underscore the unprecedented differences between his original intent and the global village his work and research has given birth to.
To the movement – the final goal of which is to reshape and re-order a society from its current embedding in a monetary system (which developed out of existing environmental scarcity, helping to stabilize various civilizations which faced shortages in many if not all resources) to one of a “resource-based economy” where all are truly equal and where humans have the chance to live real, creative lives rather than persist on the hamster wheel lives that rotate around the much-cliched “Nine to Five”.
In such a new economy, technology is to be used to its absolute full potential minimizing waste, human involvement in production, unnecessary redundancy (one need only look at how many different versions of the iPhone there are after only 2 years of its existence) and inbuilt technological obsolescence (see above also.) In this scenario, human society employs inferential logic, vastly advanced AI technology and empirical testing to regulate and improve all facets of society, as it evolves, and as new and better technologies appear. The present system, it is argued, does not evolve, and it limiting every human from living a richer, more progressive, healthier and safer life.
The argument for change put forward by Joseph is based on the studies and lifelong works of industrial designer and social engineer Jacque Fresco, a man who first appeared on Larry King live in 1974 and has been back on the program numerous times, although not recently, and whose work has appeared on Fox News 7. Further afield than his native America, Fresco is known and appreciated across the world for his visionary idea of a future forged by practicality, environmental respect and plain awesome-looking buildings.
Joseph’s lecture at Goldsmiths College in Lewisham, which is available in its entirety via bootlegged audio at the end of this article, focused on expanding the current understandings of a monetary system’s cause and effect cycle, the ill-effect on the health of all people in a society more stratified than one where each individual is “more equal”,(to quote but mis-represent Orwell), and used examples of feral children to demonstrate just how much a human being is, or can be, shaped by their surroundings.
Ultimately, the negative effects of the society work themselves out upon children, and the resulting adult operates on his/her learned societal instincts to re-entrench the same value systems upon future generations through actions that perpetuate or worsen the status quo.
Joseph’s lecture, which itself lasted an hour and twenty minutes, was followed by another hour and fifteen minutes of Q&As from an audience which remained rapt and involved from beginning to end. This is a big deal for an event that is essentially based in cultural theory and economics.
An even bigger deal, however was the demographic of the attendees. Peoples of ages as young as seventeen to old as the hills, older hippies and younger activists, and even a Norweigan businessman and a gentleman from the Ukraine who had flown to London specifically for the event comprised the 300 audience members. A live webcast on Ustream garnered another 300 viewers. The Eerie Investigations team who broadcast on Sky 220 were also present, filming the entire event.
Joseph is a naturally able rhetorician, despite claiming he is normally introverted. His natural flow and ability to answer varied and often multi-segmented questions without the need to jot down any notes whilst audience members asked up to three questions at once stood in sometimes strong contrast to his less smooth flow whilst reading the lecture notes. This, however, seemed also to come down to sleep deprivation and a decent bout of nerves which all experience in front of a crowd, especially one overseas.
Overall the event was a real success, with quite a few over-eager audience members staying up to an hour afterwards to question Peter and talk to each other. Whatever the future of the movement is, it is very likely to be larger, louder and very very interesting.