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My problem with the John Cage's reliance on the external is that it gives too much room to the libertarians or even the fascists, who will claim that we live in a downright competitive universe, so anything goes. Anything doesn't go in my book.

I started to have this realization when I was watching the Clinton/Lewinksy debacle on TV. Everyone, from Dan Rather to Louis Rukeyser said, "well the economy is good, and the American public is going to support this president as long as the economy is good." As far as I'm concerned, a good economy is not good enough. The bottom line isn't the bottom line.

JB: Then what is?

RUSHKOFF: That's for us to figure out. The Bible gives a few hints. There is something to be said for a bit of Platonic idealization in all this. Growing up and saying look, that doesn't go in my house; this will not go. Being an adult. Originally the Internet made me think the only thing we have to learn is tolerance. If we can be tolerant of everything and everyone, we'll all be okay. But I'm not tolerant of everything and everyone. And I certainly see the value in realizing that we're starting to go in directions that we've been before. We should learn from those experiences rather than repeat them with new gadgets that we have even less control over.

The problem with Cage's idea is that if everything is external and there's no internal life anymore, then this is the only moment that matters. However I feel is right, and I'm going to go with that. A New Age guru might tell us this is fine. But I'm beginning to think this is not the only moment that matters. Part of growing up is realizing that my father and his father and his father, too, were working on projects that span generations, and I want to know what those projects are. And when I have children, I'm sure I'll feel this way even more.

JB: A lot of your writing is concerned with the effects of science and technology.

RUSHKOFF: I tend to think of technologies as expressions rather than things that force us into new behaviors. I'm not a technodeterminist. I believe we are in charge. When we're developing technologies like computers, networks, or Nano we are designing reality, and doing it at a pace unimagined before. We are greatly enhancing our ability to exercise our intention.

What I'm asking is what is our intention? What are we going to do with it? We better figure that out, and fast. When you look some of the people who have been most successful at expressing their intention through technology, they aren't the scientists, but the technologists and marketers. A what are they doing with it? They're getting very rich, and succumbing to what you would call toxic wealth.

JB: Toxic wealth?

RUSHKOFF: There are certain aspects of youth that are valuable to retain as an adult. And there are other aspects of youth that are dangerous to retain as an adult. When I look at our so-called adult society today it looks to me a lot like a fetus that stayed in the womb too long and became toxic to its mother and itself. There's a great deal of thumb-sucking going on in Silicon Valley. We've done the opposite of what we should have. We live in a culture that is obsessed with youth but has lost the ability to think with the elasticity of youth — so we've traded in the best and we've gotten the worst as a result. We think like grumpy old men, and act out like two-year olds.

Look at Hollywood. Who are our movie stars today? Not men, but boys. Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon, who look even younger than they are. Who are the great adult men of Hollywood? Jack Nicholson, who's an adult baby. His entire show-biz image is of an overgrown child going to Lakers games in dark glasses. Or Robin Williams ­ however talented ­ still a version of the adult child. Our president is a baby. He treats the nation as his scolding parent, from whom he must hide his naughty deeds, and to whom he must occasionally apologize.

Look at what a lot of our Internet heroes do with their money: they buy planes, fighter jets for that matter, or build castles they can live in as if they were wombs — it's an extension of childhood.