Another Incoherent Essay:
21st Century Blues...
Pessimism is the plague of our age. Never in history have there been more reasons to hope for a better tomorrow. And yet the battle seems all but lost.
How did things go so wrong?
If there is a symbol which anchors our era to the continuum of time, it is probably ebay the online auction house. There, objects from the past and present are bought and sold. Rare 78s and old playboys, fake vomit and stolen car stereos, windows 3.1 disks and vacuum tubes, all coexist in a single place.
How does this reflect our place in time? In all too many ways... First it is above all else, a testament to our obsession with material possessions and our desire to "lay up treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt" (yes I am paraphrasing scripture, there is a first time for everything). It is in some sense a brilliant illustration of how topsy-turvy our decadent age really is.
There is nothing wrong with material goods! People must eat... But what is so good about the garbage on ebay? What purpose does any of it serve?
Our connections to the past are being stressed to their limits. In our age of "pluggin' in" we are quickly being uprooted. This is why we need these fading trinkets.
Our age is a spiritless one, neither romantic nor real. Reality is no longer clear, facts are blurry. Fantasy is dying, what is left is cheap and crass, so much so that it should bring tears to our eyes. And these suppressed tears are the bane of 21st century existence.
Not only is our environment more crass than any that has existed before, but it is also changing at an unprecedented rate: it is changing within our lifetimes. Unlike past generations who lived in the world of their ancestors, we don't even have the opportunity to live within a world for more than a generation, decade, couple of years (it all depends on the level you choose to examine our environment at).
Our symbols are collapsing before we can even assign value to them. September 11th, a day which we are told marks the beginning of a new era, our new era, is seen by some as the destruction of two symbols of American wealth and power: the twin towers. It was a tragedy because of the loss of human life. A devastating one. But from the point of view of symbols it was nothing. It was a useful building destroyed by insane madmen, in its place will probably come an even more efficient and effective design.
But what of the myriad symbols that are torn down every day because they no longer are efficient or profitable? Our world chooses easy profit and waste, over organic growth and efficiency. As a consequence our collective unconscious is extremely "inbred". It no longer encompasses the rich legends and myths that it once did, and it depends only very weakly on where we live. Within the monoculture we dream of little more than shortlived tv series (any one remember Project Geeker) and the dialogue of old Simpsons episodes.
Again there is nothing wrong with this in itself. In fact, from another point of view this is not "inbreeding" but a common ground upon which to build our new global village. However this ignores several key facts. So much so that we would quickly wake up from this dream and become aware of the grim reality if our delusion wasn't so self-serving (sadly it is we who are sacrificed).
What is this worldview ignoring? Three major facts. We do not have any rights with regard to the monoculture (it is owned by large corporations: all rights are reserved :P ) we do not participate in the making of the monoculture (when was the last time you designed a videogame for yourself or taped your own television program) and our interests are not advanced by the monoculture (it is does not speak for and to us, it speaks for large corporations and it addresses certain very narrow parts of our psyches).
and also. The all-powerful ed has also contributed!.