Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Showing posts with label F. Scott Fitzgerald. Show all posts
Showing posts with label F. Scott Fitzgerald. Show all posts

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ego-Enclosed Micro-Societies

Image Source: Time via Flavorwire.

By now, anyone who follows generational issues will have heard about Joel Stein's Time cover article (here) on how the Millennials will save the world. Joel Stein is a Gen Xer, and he should know better than to indulge in the same generational stereotyping that Time magazine used to condemn his own age group. Did his bosses put him up to it? For an overview of how Time cover articles have perpetuated  generational myths, see JenX67's response to Stein here. This is the worst kind of social propaganda and it deserves full condemnation.

If Stein had made broad generalizations about races instead of age groups in his Time article, there would be outcry across the MSM. Even when the message is positive, age stereotyping is no different than racism. Stein's article depends on two Boomer-generated narratives which depend on one another: 'Gen X is the anti-Boomer generation that failed'; 'Gen Y is the generation that will bear the Boomer mantle and save us.' This shows that Boomers, in their quest to build an immortal legacy, made age stereotyping and discrimination socially and professionally acceptable. The fact that Boomers now suffer from age discrimination themselves does not change the origin of the labels and their negative effects.

We need a new language to discuss generational matters and a new way to understand society that bridges age differences. Mr. Stein's unfortunate example aside, Generation X has become known (or rather: not known) for communicating about social experience in non-collective way. As a result, Boomers and Millennials often seem to think that Generation X has not accomplished, and is not accomplishing, anything. Where are Gen Xers, anyway? Why can't you google 'generation X' and come across ten national and international lobby groups and central hubs belching forth Propaganda on the Generation X Self? Where are the trumpeted announcements? Where are the big high profile articles in national magazines? Where are the Gurus and Big Leaders who associate themselves publicly with Gen X? Have you seen a Gen-X-labeled TV show lately? Where are the signposts which point to what Jeff Gordinier called the generational "kitsch" known as 'GENERATION X'? Gen X does not often speak the same language that Boomers and Millennials do. Like the so-called 'Silent Generation,' Gen Xers do not associate their successes with their generational identity. But that does not mean their successes do not exist.

Boomers and Gen Y cannot and will not 'change the world' until they abandon the mass-marketed illusions of ego-enclosed micro-societies and consider the behaviour of the Silent Generation and of Generation X. There are ways of functioning in society other than through self-definition and advancement at the expense of other age groups. The problems we face require consensus, cooperation, mutual respect and humility - and the smashing of generational stereotypes. We must abandon the promotion of the 'ego' as the ultimate source of virtue, power, strength, prosperity and success.

Consider what Millennials would be 'expecting' now, what they would be saying about themselves, and how they would be behaving, if they had been fed a different story from birth, a story that did not involve a grand manifest destiny for their collective Self. What if that story had simply said that they are all different, even though they share some cultural experiences with others their age? What if it had said that they have something to contribute, just as other people of other age groups do. Nor will their contributions constitute the sum total of success or accomplishment of civilization. It will be just another brick in the wall, another drop in the bucket. And yes, they have to defer to those with greater knowledge and experience, usually (but not always) a function of age. Similarly, those who follow them will have to defer to them, because in time, Millennials will know more than their successors.

For decades, youth-oriented marketing has peddled the idea that an explosive, 'fresh outlook' is the silver bullet in every circumstance, that brand new approaches are the best way to solve age-old problems. Usually, technology is mentioned as the game-changer. High tech has transformed age old problems into completely different issues, and Millennial brains are needed to grasp uniquely novel circumstances. It simply is not true.

Millennials who cling to the myths they were sold as children and teens in the 1990s will discover that they have been duped into supporting a very old school power structure. In that structure, the will not only not be leaders, they will be at the bottom of the pile. This Boomer-led establishment will tell Millennials any flattering lie about Gen Y's identity in order to retain power. If members of Gen Y continue to believe mistakenly in the marketing labels they are fed - and even if they believe anti-marketing which is supposed to be more credible but delivers the same myth in different packaging - they will find that their real world circumstances continually and increasingly do not match the world they were told they would find. That discrepancy should be their biggest warning sign to wake up. The last thing in the world they should do is get on that train, and start labeling others and themselves.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Future Plans, Future Dreams

Almost everyone plans for the future - and almost everyone is lousy at it, according to psychologists. I09 is reporting on scholarly research which indicates that we overestimate our ability to get things done in a certain amount of time; we overestimate our willpower and agency in the future; we underestimate unforeseen problems; and we don't really clearly understand what we will have to do in the future anyway:
1) There's the "planning fallacy," which has been written about a lot. As Jennifer Whitson, a professor of Management at University of Texas, Austin explains it, this theory says that "people generally think they can accomplish more in a certain period of time than they actually can." And it's also possible, says Whitson, that the planning fallacy may intensify the further into the future you're planning ahead.

2) But also, some new not-yet-published research by Cornell University's Thomas Gilovich and Erik Helzer shows that the more you think about the future, the less clearly you're likely to be thinking.

In particular, there's the study called "Whatever is willed will be," which shows that people tend to overstate how effective their willpower will be in the future. Helzer and Gilovich did a whopping seven studies to show that people "consider the will to be a more potent determinant of future events than events that happened in the past." ...

3) And then finally, there's Construal Level Theory, which shows that the further away something is (either in space, or in time) the more abstract it appears. So if you're thinking about a goal that's a few years ahead, you can easily fall into woolly thinking, instead of focusing on the concrete steps that will allow you to get there ... .
The article does not talk about the impact of procrastination and of the Internet on attention spans to see if the environment of the past ten years has made it more difficult for people to achieve goals.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gatsby Revisited

Image Source: Warner Brothers via Lost in the Multiplex.

The late 2000s to early 2010s' revisiting of the 1920s to the early 1930s continues (see my post on decades revisited, here). Another example: the 2012 film remake of The Great Gatsby, (set/written in 1922; published in 1925), directed by Baz Luhrmann, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. Luhrmann's movie site is here. It's right in line with this rather strange 2012 spring 'Silent Era' swimwear collection, weirdly echoing 1920s' styles.

Image Source: Warner Brothers via Bangstyle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Love in the New Millennium 6: Summer Solstice Stardust Reveries

Image Source: Glogster.

Welcome Summer!  Today marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.  With it, a buzzing haze descends amid dreamy reminiscences.  Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust is one of the greatest songs ever written when it comes to capturing the way love leaves an indelible memory. Carmichael wrote it in Bloomington, Indiana in 1927. The lyrics were added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish.

Stardust (Carmichael/Parish 1927-1929)

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Always reminding me that we're apart

You wandered down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that would not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely nights dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you

When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
And now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

And beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You were in my arms
Nightingale tells it's fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it always will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain

When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration
Oh, but that was long ago
And now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You were in my arms
The nightingale tell its fairy tale
Of paradise where roses grew

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love's refrain

The song always makes me think of a 1920s-Fitzgerald age immortalized in The Great Gatsby and its famous line regarding Gatsby watching the green light at the end of Daisy's dock:
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther … And one fine morning -

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Star-crossed love bends our understanding of time, mixing intense memories with hope - it's a state of mind that clings to past and future.  There's a nice post at The Great Jay Gatsby about the green light in that novel (that post is the source of the image below).  Below the jump, a famous rendition of Stardust by Nat King Cole.