A bit more of a rant than usual. we start off with a bit of a tip of the hat to world war III and rapidly diverge into situationism and guy debord, addiction to spectacle, and the longing for chaos that comes from thwarted evolution, leading to the only real solution to feeling like crap.

podcast page here

Direct download: TME2.2-start_with_yourself.mp3

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6 thoughts on “The Mosaic Effect: season 2 , episode 2: start with yourself

  1. Just listened to this, and I really liked the connection you’ve drawn between George Bush’s warmongering and the school shootings. I’ve also long seen a similar connection between the (as you say) ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ style of journalism and the ‘look how horrible humanity is it itself and the earth’ kind of thing (from the first Qatsi film of Godfrey Reggio to the commercial with Native American shedding a single tear over people littering).

    It’s all the same need for destruction, just in a different direction. “Look at all this mess!”, over and over again. We all want to do something, but what? Did you see the Tom Criuse scientology speech? He kept repeating “And we’re doing something about it, we’re not just watching it…” Granted, he’s a nut job, but still, the same feeling’s there.

    I also thought it was interesting that you mentioned the Situationsists and their idea of the spectacle, because I see post-modernism and decontrutionism, and a whole lot of relatively recent critical theory as being yet another, more intellectualized, form of this. Society has become a spectacle because all we see are the stories of the past being re-enacted around us.

    I think history has grown too heavy for us. There have been too many revolutions, and yet here we are still unevolved. Is there any way to jump up to another level of evolution at this point, or do we need to clear the spirtual underbrush of history first, so to speak?

    I agree with your final solution here too, a return to the self, to the source of growth and change. But how to do it on a mass scale? And how to do it so that it is not just another re-volution?

    Should everyone just do that, just start with their personal growth and trust things to work out? It takes a lot of faith to let go and work without a supporting plan like that…

    (not that I’m looking to you for an answer, just rippling the mosaic back to you)

  2. yo Ian. I agree completely that the cyclical momental of history has started to weigh us down, but at least we’re starting to become conscious of it, like joyce said in the wake. repeating archetypes are not so bad. probably somewhat inevitable actually. it’s doing it on autopilot that sucks.

    I could have gotten more into the situationist stuff. it’s very rich. but like you say, i think the whole postmodern critical theory mess is just poisonous. after a while it’s just nihilism, and self refferential wank. I recall reading baudrillard’s simulacra and simulation and he pretty much spends half the book saying we’re fucked, and there’s nothing to be done about it, becuase anything we do will be recuperated into the spectacle.

    ultimately yeah, I do think the only sensible thing to do is start with yourself and let things move from there. but emphasis on ‘start’. any comprehensive program of self growth will eventually expand to include the outside world, but most of what i see these days is megalomaniacs with an adolescent emotional set spouting gradiouse nonsense.

    I’ve seen or heard most every ideology or progressive program there is of any merit, and they all break down on one point: if you plug the same kind of people we have now into them, you end up with the same stupid problems. so my firm belief is that if you want to change anything about the system, you have to plug more mature people into it.

  3. Yeah, I know what you mean. If it’s not working, don’t keep doing it, to paraphrase Einstein on insanity…

    As for Baudrillard, any system of thought that leaves you stuck like that is no good. There’s those no-exit reality tunnels you mentioned is your last post (and which I was hoping to hear more of in the podcast, although if I remember correctly you did touch on the idea briefly. I just think it’s a pretty clear and simple explanation for why those things happen).

    Anyway, if you can’t change the spectacle, change the audience. One person at a time if need be.

  4. With Baudrillard, it’s necessary to understand that largely it’s a response to the material success of the economy system. He and the Situ crew kept harping on how people were now rioting not over bread, but lack of air conditioning or the latest chocolate hostess cupcake product–the point was that more and more people were moving away from necessity being a struggle. The “struggle”, of course, doesn’t fall away, it’s just that the energy goes into forms that, when thought about, look bizarre. And it’s a “no-exit reality tunnel” because you don’t want to exit, since almost all the alternatives suck–the point is simply to critique the structure that you’re stuck in in order to navigate it better… the tone is extremely critical for that reason, since it is simply a critique, not a poltical program. Otherwise you end up like Jim Kunstler, predicting the Dow to drop to 300 in a couple days and for the entire nation to go into a perpetual blackout.

    At the same time I do subscribe to the recouperation conundrum. For every person advocating some form of Bucky Fuller-esque “remanifestation” there are ten near-illiterate bourgeois bohemians with MBAs working hard to sell $60 bottles of responsible organic shampoo. Essentially, you get either a world not worth living in, or a world of perpetual annoyance. That said, while many of the bobo hippie businesspeople are bad and pretty much automatons, the alternative is worse.

  5. well that’s what I find really interesting about our current predicament. the whole thrust of post-modernism is that spectators critique of a world that doesn’t require your input. you don’t need to struggle to survive, only to find a reason to keep on living, when all you can do is watch the theme park that the world has turned into.

    but now you have the opening into a realm of struggle again, where the world might actually require your input to keep going. or, a least, ‘your’ world….

  6. Yes, exactly! The “spectacle” is more a manifestation caused by seeing oneself as being disconnected from reality. The post-modernists or situationists (to use the definitions loosely) see reality as a spectacle because they do not, or cannot, engage it. It’s this view of oneself as being disconnected from reality that causes the feeling of being a spectator. It is not an inherent part of reality, it is something one brings to reality (and brings out of reality) by interacting with it this way.

    Of course, if the post-modernists hadn’t come up with this description, we might not have the opportunity of seeing alternatives to it. I think it’s important to not lose sight of the fact that you can and should interact with reality, if you ever want it to be more than something that happens to you.

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