I can’t dispute the salience of most of these observations, prognostications. Indeed, as both secular and religious ideologies of the past collapse (ie become less useful to the pursuit a meaningful life), our immense inability to influence and contextualize global megapolicital systems becomes increasingly explicit and demoralizing. Curtis succinctly pierces the heart of this societal disquiet in his film “Oh Dear.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcy8uLjRHPM)
His suggestion / CTA that journalists come to the rescue and reimagine the world is somewhat compelling, on the right track. Our species yearns for new both ontological and secular maps (though I think leaving it to the press is fucking nuts).
I’m quite passionate about this topic; I spent about three years developing an episodic TV project as an investigation into and attempted antidote to this malaise. (Another story). In doing so, I’ve found what works for me:
IMO, the foremost antidote to this malaise is epistemological humility; the inherent complexity and incomprehensibility of the world is nothing new, it’s just that in a world of perceived objectivity, the sophistication is glaring and more explicit. We’re bombarded with despairing infographic declarations of our insignificance and impending demise. Americans are maximally aware of the dystopian wealth disparity between the stalling middle class and the beneficiaries of allegedly exploitative, ecologically-destructive megacorporations. We can simultaneously explain so much, and yet so, so little. Clown world. 🤡🌎
However I believe that to confess our helplessness in both understanding and influencing the geo-techno-eco-sociopolitical megastructure is liberating, and renders us more effective epistemic and servo-agents within it…
One can make a strong, rational argument for the anti-natalist perspective: that we are inevitably a long-suffering bacteria doomed to ride the black dog into hell. And all the same, while maintaining this nihilistic premise, it makes /rational/ sense to subscribe to some polly-annacish, faith-based, ontological narrative of the world, because it will actually make our final walk into the sunset slightly less miserable.
Further, as Curtis suggests, I think it’s more possible to formulate a secular map of the world order that’s actually hopeful, imaginative, and well-reasoned. At the very least, we can non-retrospectively brand the current era in a way that is functionally accurate and useful… Or at least not laden with languor. “Roman Representative Democracy,” “Agrarian Bands,” and “Feudalism” were all decent approximations of various epochs of the Western world order.
In “The Sovereign Individual,” James Dale Davidson posits a megapolitical transformation in the 21st century, via westfallian collapse and monetary reset. The basic argument is that over the centuries, emergent technologies catalyze ecological change (pertaining especially to the dynamics of violence). Today, as state-monopolized force becomes inefficacious for the seizure (of now primarily digital) assets, individuals (beginning with the elite minority) become sovereign agents. Custodians of the managerial oligarchy will be rendered obsolete by microprocessing, forcing governments to compete for customers, rather than bureaucratically coerce them. Global financial collapse will restore a deflationary pricing mechanism, hopefully catalyzing a more Austrian-principled global economic system, driven forward by savings and innovation (vs. state constructed artificial supply, ie debt).
Personally, I’m betting, (not claiming), this outlook is accurate, (time window inexact). I personally subscribe to both the practice of essentially religious faith and the embrace of this market-driven-prosperity narrative.
BUT, I don’t write all this to simply declare “hey, I’m a quasi-Christian with Bitcoin-nutcase leanings,” nor “here is my map of the world and I believe it is a-priori capital-T True, and you should too.” Nor do I mean to trivialize the palpable immensity of modern malaise….
Psychedelics and mindfulness taught me that our imagistic representations of the world and ourselves are ultimately illusory. But living and necessity have taught me that some stories are better (ie more useful) than others. And some are way, way better. Deducing new cartography from the trenches of my (post)modern moodiness ultimately proved demoralizing and dysfunctional for me. (I spent 36 months doing this pretty much full time.) Now I assume a naive, humanistic telos and pick and prune my delusions accordingly. And it’s working.
Maybe I’m just saying “look away.” I don’t know. But maybe, just maybe, it all makes sense and everything’s good, man. No one's steering, isn't that kind of cool?
(HMU for my 40-page TV show treatment on all this lmao.)
This was a switch-up from your usual writings and equally thought-provoking to read.
This is a great, clear-eyed, succinct summary of a lot of things that I've been feeling and that I think my peers are feeling. Would love to see more posts on this in the future