Sincerity

In the apoth­e­o­sis of post­moder­ni­ty that we are cur­rent­ly sub­ject­ed to sin­cer­i­ty is hard to find. The alt-fact (pro­pa­gan­da) & alt-right (white suprema­cist) are unscrupu­lous­ly disin­gen­u­ous at dis­sem­bling. The social jus­tice left has balka­nized due to self-inflict­ed “No True Scotsman”-ship. Hip­ster irony in the ear­ly aughts was at least per­for­ma­tive — a joke that every­one was in on; and even if you didn’t think it was fun­ny, you at least knew it was a joke. Now, just about every­body is a revan­chist.

The tools used to make noth­ing mean any­thing, and any­thing mean noth­ing have been so refined that 140 char­ac­ters can take 10,000 of analy­sis to unpack. Speed, vol­ume, and anonymi­ty cre­ate so much noise that there might as well be no sig­nal.

I used to think hip­ster irony was the prob­lem & that sin­cer­i­ty was the answer. I was wrong. Post­moder­ni­ty is the prob­lem.

I still think sin­cer­i­ty is the answer.

Postmodernism is Dead! Long Live Holism!

I’ve nev­er liked post­mod­ernism and I’ve been wait­ing quite some time for the next organ­ic, era-bound, arbi­trar­i­ly-assigned “-ism” to show up. I’ve final­ly noticed it, and I expect oth­er folks have as well. I don’t know if it has a name yet, but I’ve arbi­trar­i­ly assigned it with the han­dle Holism.

First, Postmodernism

Since, philo­soph­i­cal­ly speak­ing, post­mod­ernism acts with inher­ent sus­pi­cion toward mean­ing, under­stand­ing, and epis­te­mol­o­gy, the nat­ur­al result of decon­struc­tion is a lack of mean­ing and under­stand­ing, and a dis­re­gard for epis­te­mol­o­gy. Post­mod­ernism used to be the idea that you could under­stand some­thing bet­ter if you took it apart. It still is, aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly speak­ing. But pop­u­lar­ly, it has has become the idea the idea that you don’t need to under­stand some­thing if you can take it apart. Every­thing can be sub­ject­ed to spin, mean­ing is fun­gi­ble.

In this way, every thing, every method of know­ing or ounce of mean­ing becomes fun­gi­ble, spinnable, and capa­ble of being dis­re­gard­ed. Of course, all of this was pos­si­ble before post­mod­ernism, but the cher­ry on top is that post­mod­ernism basi­cal­ly legit­imizes and encour­ages this sort of disin­gen­u­ous­ness.

This has so intrud­ed upon every bit of mod­ern liv­ing that it has result­ed in a steady unsteady­ing of mean­ing as a con­cept. No things have mean­ing. Hey­ho, nihilism. We are adrift. Before post­moder­ni­ty, we would nav­i­gate by the stars. Now we lis­ten to peo­ple dis­cuss what nagi­va­tion and stars real­ly mean. Now we look so close­ly at a pointil­list paint­ing that we see only dots. We used to step back and see a field of wild­flow­ers. What hap­pens when you take apart a radio? You get pieces of a radio and no music. By it’s very nature, post­mod­ernism is decon­struc­tive, not con­struc­tive. I’m quite delib­er­ate­ly avoid­ing bandy­ing words about, here. These spe­cif­ic words mat­ter. A philo­soph­i­cal pur­suit that is inter­est­ed in tak­ing things apart rather than putting things togeth­er is mas­tur­ba­to­ry.

So.

We’ve been stuck in this mas­tur­ba­to­ry realm of post­mod­ernism for decades; we’ve for­got­ten about mean­ing and neglect­ed to teach oth­ers how to derive mean­ing on their own, about the neces­si­ty of a long view, dia­logue, inter­ac­tion and shar­ing of ideas with each oth­er. Instead the goal is to be the best one at talk­ing past whomev­er we’re talk­ing past. We are sur­round­ed by unnat­ur­al food prod­ucts that are assem­bled rather than grown or hus­band­ed. We decon­struct nat­ur­al habi­tats to extrude their fun­da­men­tal parts, and then dump the unwant­ed fun­da­men­tal parts, or their processed residues back into nat­ur­al habi­tats. We cre­ate artis­tic state­ments that are so abstract or iron­ic that they are impos­si­ble to pen­e­trate. We cre­ate tele­vi­sion shows that are com­plete­ly script­ed and call it real­i­ty. We only like things iron­i­cal­ly, because sin­cer­i­ty ascribes mean­ing toward what we hold dear. We have a dem­a­gog­ic “news” pro­gram said to be a “No Spin Zone”, which, as disin­gen­u­ous as the name is, admits to the per­va­sive­ness of spin (the fun­gi­bil­i­ty of mean­ing) in all aspects of our infor­ma­tion con­sump­tion. We cre­ate strange and fan­ci­ful finan­cial instru­ments and eco­nom­ic mod­els that have no mean­ing when sub­ject­ed to the slight­est exam­i­na­tion and that, when they fall apart, ruin the lives of every­one except the magi­cians who made them. If any­thing, the burst­ing of the hous­ing bub­ble proved the bank­rupt­cy of post­mod­ern action. The fun­gi­bil­i­ty of mean­ing means that peo­ple has no mean­ing.

Now, Holism

So.

The reac­tion to this dearth of mean­ing is Holism. Just as Post­mod­ernism was a reac­tion to Mod­ernism, Holism is a reac­tion to Post­mod­ernism. The Holists live in the bombed-out rub­ble of the post­mod­ern land­scape, pick­ing up any puz­zling but like­ly chunks of jet­sam they come across and try­ing to cob­ble togeth­er some sort of mean­ing out of it all. Any item, song, phi­los­o­phy, skill, eth­ic, eco­nom­ic mode or moral code is just as use­ful as any oth­er for con­struct­ing mean­ing in this space. This isn’t an inno­cent igno­rance; there is knowl­edge about what caused this, and an imme­di­ate and inter­nal­ized rejec­tion of engage­ment with the meth­ods that cre­at­ed the rub­ble. Holists are con­cerned with sin­cer­i­ty, and rather than regard­ing all things with some lev­el of sus­pi­cion, the default is to keep an open mind, to pro­vide the ben­e­fit of doubt, rather than its detri­ment. (The ben­e­fit is doubt­ing your own assump­tions. The detri­ment is not lis­ten­ing to oth­ers’.) Because of this open-mind­ed­ness, these ersatz mean­ings are able to accrete into some­thing greater than the sum of its parts and sur­pris­ing­ly impen­e­tra­ble to decon­struc­tion.

The #occu­py move­ment is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of Holism that first made me notice what was going on.  It is an ersatz boat that floats. It is an accre­tion of var­i­ous mean­ings around a theme they all hold in com­mon: “Post­mod­ern politi­co-cap­i­tal­ist eco­nom­ics has said we aren’t. Here we are.” The basic refusal of occu­pa­dos to engage with post­mod­ernists on post­mod­ern terms result­ed in the ini­tial “mean­ing­less move­ment” media spin. Media is not capa­ble of defin­ing a gestalt. They’ve lost the knack. The occu­pa­do-holist voice says to post­mod­ernists (par­tic­u­lar­ly bankers & politi­cians): “We’re not talk­ing to you, because when you say things, you don’t mean them.” Where “mean” here exists both in its nor­mal usage and in the epis­te­mo­log­i­cal terms described above. Occu­pa­dos know that post­mod­ernists speak from the wrong side of their mouths.

Holists are urban farm­ers and whole foods folks, peo­ple who want to engage in nutri­tion on a fun­da­men­tal lev­el. Holists are green folks, who see the neces­si­ty and ben­e­fit of pre­serv­ing nat­ur­al order. Holists cre­ate art and craft from scrap out of a need to cre­ate. Holists have game & craft nights, bike rides and potlucks instead of watch­ing TV. Holists find sin­cer­i­ty to be more ful­fill­ing than irony. Holists share among them­selves and work with alter­nate eco­nom­ic mod­els because they don’t have faith in tra­di­tion­al means. (And, often enough they don’t have the mon­ey or the means in the first place).

So. What? (-ism)

Holism appears to be a move­ment by those who have noth­ing to cre­ate some­thing of mean­ing. “Noth­ing” is defined in as broad or spe­cif­ic terms as you care. Holists don’t care what terms you use. Holists are not focused on talk or artic­u­la­tion so much as action and cre­ation. I arbi­trar­i­ly assigned the name of Holism, because these peo­ple are con­cerned with all the gestalts that have been neglect­ed due to decades of post­mod­ernism. Holism takes it all in and accepts, where­as post­mod­ernism took it all apart and reject­ed even the pieces. Though post­mod­ernists said the paint­ing was just a bunch of dots, the wild­flow­ers were still there. Just because the radio is in pieces doesn’t mean you can’t make your own music out of the parts.

Metablogging?

bleah. i’m tired and my eyes are crusty/crunchy since i chose sleep over show­er this morn­ing. but on to today’s rant and my first shot at metablog­ging.

what i get tired of see­ing as i search through the morass of the wide­world­ofwe­blog­ging are the sites in which the entries become noth­ing more than lin­guis­tic acro­bat­ics. how cool can i make my mun­dane life and ideas sound? alas, i have been guilty of this myself. my beef cen­ters on the fine dis­tinc­tion between writ­ing to be ‘clever’ and writ­ing to be pre­cise. writ­ing to be ‘clever’ is easy. you just need a the­saurus and enough imag­i­na­tion to believe the weath­er fore­cast. then, util­is­ing Roget’s tex­tu­al inter­face a per­son can sub­sti­tute words for words cre­at­ing a ren­dered uni­verse of kaliedo­scop­ic intran­sience whose pletho­ra of sub­lim­i­nal gad­getry hides the fact that there is no actu­al con­tent to the damn thing. this ‘clev­er­ness’ is in fact noth­ing but inten­tion­al ambi­gu­i­ty. writ­ing to be pre­cise, on the oth­er hand, does not let the read­ing infer any­thing from the post. they are told what the point of the arti­cle is and it is explained suf­fi­cient­ly.

now some might say that i am dis­tin­guish­ing between two dif­fer­ent schools or writ­ing which could be rep­re­sent­ed but not nec­es­sar­i­ly defined by artis­tic writ­ing and aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. how­ev­er, what some might mis­take as my rant against the artis­tic is by no means my inten­tion. what i am rail­ing against is writ­ing that has form but no con­tent. neo-Dada writ­ing if you will. the point is that it has no point. fuck that. i believe that those who think they are being clever are actu­al­ly con­vinced that their cre­ations have con­tent and mean­ing.

what is nice to run across are the instances of pre­ci­sion that pierce to the cen­ter of the author’s intent and enlight­en instead of mud­dle. when words are cho­sen not for their clev­er­ness but for their apt­ness. where adjec­tives are used with the dis­cern­ing taste of a con­nosieur to empha­size, instead of the hap­haz­ard arse­nal employed by so many that mere­ly over­loads. good poet­ry is pre­ci­sion writ­ing at its best, and it is artis­tic.

i’d like to acknowl­edge that the oppo­site is true, writ­ing can be exces­sive­ly banal to the point of mild insan­i­ty but i’ll talk about that some oth­er time.

Nota Bene: this entry is also an attempt at reflex­iv­i­ty despite the fact that i dis­like the post­mod­ern, i am still a child of it. that is prob­a­bly appro­pri­ate for the post­mod­ern itself. coils with­in coils.