Pasted on the inside of a Radiohead EP, Chomsky's quote serves as a reminder to the point these musicians are attempting to make: the essence of meaning is largely lost when reality is based on modern modes of information. In other words, the information one takes in is delivered in such an impersonal way, via multi-media, that the self is scattered in the saturation of these various mediums in an attempt to order information, or life. The word impersonal is used in the sense that the delivery has little to do with the meaning. Radiohead's latest release, "OK Computer," is about just that. "Everything spinning out of control," says front man Thom Yorke of Radiohead's latest album (Meeting People is Easy, 1998). Control is lost in the oversaturation of information, in which the complexity of information is so widespread that in a post-modern society meaning no longer adds up to a total, but instead schizophrenic patches with only relation to itself and not to anything else. It is in this where the fear of depthlessness in our society as a whole is felt (Jameson, 16).
Take the advertising used by MTV for example. It is merely a barrage of extremely quick cuts, in which one can barely make out what each image is. First it may be an eyeball, then a car, them some white space, then a mathematical graph, then a plant, etc. After this the network's name is seen with the airdate of its newest show. Nothing had any relation to the next, or to the network or show, save only the fact that they were pasted next to one another. Post-modern critiquers such as Frederic Jameson would argue that this is a staple of post-modern depthlessness and schizophrenia found in today's society. The fact is, this advertising by MTV is seen as exciting and cutting edge due to the realization that today's society is so numbed down by media that the meaning isn't needed in such an advertisement because the medium sends the message of being "cool."
Within this vein of multi-media, and information overload, Radiohead's work can be seen as social commentary, as digital paranoia, as a whistle blower to the problems arising within the technological, and informational, society. Like any good art, they do not spell it out word for word to the listener. It is the sentiment that is conveyed. Take the song "Fitter Happier" for example. It is a gender neutral, computer generated voice running through a modern day checklist with drunken piano and guitar in the background. It begins like this: "Fitter happier more productive / not drinking too much / regular exercise at the gym (3 days a week) / getting along better with your associate employee contemporaries / eating well (no more microwave dinners and saturated fats)..." (Yorke, "OK Computer"). The checklist is a routine of modern day society filled only with business concerns, truths taken from advertisements, and modern self-maintenance. The only feeling conveyed at all lies in the line "(no killing moths or putting boiling water on the ants)." This can be interpreted in a number of ways, but mainly signals the idea that in today's society, as an example, people aren't affected anymore by the murders that they see on the news. They've been so numbed down that they feel bad when they spray chemicals all over a couple of ants. It's like saying "Don't squash the ladybug that landed on your shirt" when at the same time you see a child whose entire family got shot to death on the news; most concern goes towards the wrong thing. All of this is due to the numbing down of feeling by the repetition of multi-media.
One of the main purposes of art, in any age, has been to critique, or reflect, its surroundings. It is this exact thing which Radiohead has done through the use of what they reflect. Although a musical act, other avenues such as literature, video, and, mainly, the internet are used. Through these modes of communication and information an attempt to resurface what they believe has been lost in the technological society of today is made.