Men can be classified according to the most whimsical criteria: according to their humors, their inclinations, their dreams, or their glands. We change ideas like neckties; for every idea, every criterion comes from outside, from the configurations and accidents of time.
Emile Cioran: A Short History of Decay
Most of us live in a world programmed by our culture, indoctrinated from an early age, one that sets the basic limits of our reality and allows us to feel at home in the world. Whether through social, philosophical, or religious indoctrination we all succumb to certain well-defined road maps to life’s course. We in the West have for two-thousand years lived under the tutelage of a Christian worldview for better or worse, and yet as we all know this world of tropes, images, icons, thought, etc. has for several hundred years come under scrutiny and a critical gaze. The lineaments of its framework and inherent substance found lacking by certain counter or heretical thoughts and interpretations from the rise of the sciences, Enlightenment, and two hundred years of inward gazing psychological pondering ending in the quasi heritage of Freud and Lacan.
The crumbling edifice of Christian culture and society as it frayed into a myriad of sects during the so-called Protestant succession has brought us to the point of extreme awareness of its failure to hold our attention and frame our worldview. Most of modern and postmodern art and philosophy began the slow and methodical undermining and deconstruction of our Western civilization and its conceptual frameworks over the past sixty years or so. Stripped of the old anchors we’ve been flung into the weird seas of a world whose conceptual frameworks have lost their luster and entered what Nietzsche and others after him termed the Nihilist stage of unmaking in which even the common man sees through the fictional constructs that have kept him safe and guided his life. For better or worse we no longer trust authorities who would shape our lives with the old worldviews, and yet we have nothing else to anchor us and hold our lives together in some semblance of human community. This is an age of transition, an interregnum; and world between worlds, a wavering world of competing ideologies, philosophies, religious and social credos that all seem to be struggling against the chaos and unnamable horror of the future we face.
It’s as if we are all waiting for something, waiting for something new and different, something that we all know will reveal a sense of change; a change that will redefine what it means to be human and alive on planet earth freed of the old worlds crumbling around us, and opening us to something more stable and alive and fulfilling. We go about our daily lives, the humdrum of existence like automatons without will or purpose. Each in his/her own private hell trying to make sense of this deep malaise and anger at the heart of our lives. We pretend with each other that it’s all okay, that the future holds promise and hope. Yet, underneath the veneer of our facades of white lies we tell ourselves each morning we know that it isn’t alright, that nothing is alright, and everything is tilted, off-center, wrong… the world seems to be falling ever further into madness and chaos around us. We pretend that our leaders will figure it all out. We pretend that someone else will know how to fix this shambles of a world we all share. Yet, underneath it we know better. We know that no one can fix it, that it needs to go, fall, break…
We all know that this break with the lies of the past is something we all seek even if we do not exactly know why. It’s there in the back of our mind like a bad dream; and, yet, like many nightmares we also know there is a way out, a way forward. We know that it will take all of us together to do it. We must all wake up together and enter this new as yet undiscovered country of the Mind. If we do not we know the alternative is to harsh to believe.