I have lots of new friends and followers recently so I want to let you know about a series I did 2 years ago about the moment that we live in and why it is only going to get worse.
My favorite philosopher (Zizek) says that the light at the end of the tunnel is probably another oncoming train and I agree.
I am a naturally optimistic person but the past 15 years have alerted me to the very real turmoil and fracturing in society. I want to assure you of two things:
- It will only get worse
- That is probably a good thing
The original series had 4 parts:
- Why Things Seem So Bad Right Now
- Fragmented and Fractured
- No Such Thing As Neutral Anymore
- Everyone For Themselves
You can go back and watch all 4 videos (or read all 4 posts) but I wanted to summarize it for those who are new what I am doing here.
The two basic things that you need to understand about our cultural moment is that
- Everything you see – and all of the competing tribes, opinions, and agendas – are remnants of previous eras.
- We have no agreed upon arena in which to settle these disagreements and disputes.
Ours is a fractured and fragmented society in which incompatible agendas and projects compete for thinner slices of the collective pie. They cannot be reconciled to one another because they all house (are embedded with) different programs (to use a computer analogy) and sometimes entirely different operating systems.
It is not just that they have different goals, agendas, and methods … they are different to each other not just in degree but often in type.
This is why there is cultural chaos. We are both fractured and fragmented but each of those competing camps speaks an internal language game that makes in nearly impossible to translate between them.
It is not just Chess & Checkers but (to use a sports analogy) it is like asking a Baseball player how many touchdowns he scored. It is just not how it works. This is not like the difference between Ford and Chevy in NASCAR or the difference between quilting, knitting, and crochet. This is like trying to feed a banana to cell phone. They are two entirely different things.
So whether it is Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative and libertarian, creation and evolution, traditional and progressive, religious and secular – we talk past each other and often can’t even hear what the other ‘side’ is saying.
Then you take that confusion and you turn up the volume to 11 (as they say) and our self-selected echo chambers start to distort and become feedback loops that are unintelligible.
So how can I say that this is a good thing? Because we are being given the opportunity to finally deal with remnants and remainders of our historical legacy and the roots of our various programs. If we are willing to look at the genealogy of how we got here and do some discourse analysis (this is why I love critical theory) then we do an autopsy on our failing and faltering institutions and organizations.
People like to say, “the more things change the more the stay the same” but I would like to submit to you that has never been less true than it is right now. I say that they more things change they more they will continue to change at faster and faster rates.
The words for our time is history are agitated and accelerated. Changes is constant and happens not incrementally anymore but exponentially and perpetually. This is why going back to the past will not save us. Our moment is begging for better answer but is asking us completely different kinds of questions.
This is why I do what I do. This is not a blip on the radar. What you are seeing in the news is not a fever that will pass. This is the world we live in now. It is not a season and ‘this too shall pass’. No, this our new reality. Covid, police protests, political dysfunction are not glitches or bugs in the system – they are now features of the system that need to be considered on their own merit.
So I will say it again: Everything you are seeing is a remnant of a previous project or program and we have no arena in which to settle the disputes. So there is no to think that things will naturally get better or that we will somehow find a middle-ground. That is the good news of this moment if you have ears to hear and eyes to see. Our public, political, economic, medical, and environmental crisis are not a sad side effect of an otherwise healthy system. They are the remnants and remainders of a pre-existing condition. They are the logical conclusion of a long history and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
Like it or not, this is our new reality and sooner we wake up and realize that this is no nightmare the better we can do at dealing with the fractured and fragmented nature of our society and world.
I woke up to this 15 years ago And lots of people have said, “it’s only a matter of time before this all settles down can we get back to business as usual”. But there is no going back and whoever we elect this fall won’t fix it. They can’t fix it because it is embedded in the system – it is baked in the bread. So until we wake up and take a sober look at how we got here there is no reason to think things are going to get any better on their own.