“You were sick, but now you’re well, and there’s work to do” – Kilgore Trout
Salaam! A new regime appears!
It surfaces from the wasteland of the previous power, feeding and thriving on the toxicity deposited by the old authority. It achieves the final growth in the emergence of humanity, a greater understanding that evinces its soul through the reciprocal exchange of experience and thought. The human consciousness blooms by its own realization.
The designation New Sincerity could be any that applies to the manifestation of post-postmodern yearnings in contemporary culture. It sows the seeds of shared revelation and heralds collective enlightenment.
It does not directly contradict postmodernism but instead progresses beyond a conception of space and time that celebrates the ephemeral and fragmentary.
New Sincerity reifies meaning into the human condition. It celebrates personal attachment to existence, and entrusts importance to perceptions, empathy, and morality.
Although we have deconstructed meaning scientifically, philosophically, and consequently socially, New Sincerity implores us to step triumphantly forward and face destiny. In this way it mimics the individual’s threefold path to enlightenment.
I do not exist.
I exist and do not exist.
The first step attains the second through deep meditation, until the self nullifies.
This ultimately leads to death and physical void. At one point a compromise must be grasped, and enlightenment follows.
Contradictions yield. East unites with West, man with woman, yin with yang, good with evil, God with the Devil.
Though I cannot control the universe, I control my thoughts.
Thus I control the universe. Renewed acceptance of existence enriches all thoughts. The self thrives in the universe sincerely and without spite, in a state of infinitely satisfied calm.
That is why the great spiritual leaders of the past espoused love. Love acknowledges the other sincerely. To accept the other accepts you.
Can one blame a way of thinking for the way that our world emerges? Many have argued yes. In the human consciousness the individual composes the mind and humanity constitutes the body. In this way it mimics personal enlightenment.
Though we cannot control the universe, we control our thoughts. Thus we control the universe.
Within the field of theory, the threefold path has driven our aesthetic and later corporeal approach to time and space as well.
We exist. (Modernism)
We do not exist. (Postmodernism)
We exist and we do not exist. (New Sincerity)
Modernism first recognized humanity through science, art, trade, and rational thought. It sought to rectify spatial and temporal differences between human beings.
However, mankind proved capable of inexplicable horror under the guidance of the rational mind. Cross and flag sacrificed generations to world wars and genocide.
Great ideals induced irrationality and barbarism. But hundreds of years had infused our institutions with such tenants, backed by the powers of technology and tremendous capacity to enforce their principles.
The only path to enlightenment meant undergoing the difficult but necessary process of meditation and deep thought – deconstruction. Embedded institutions within the community and family, cultures and religions, languages and nations, came to be overintellectualized, belittled, corrupted and disavowed.
As a horrific consequence of collective amnesia a new authority with no memory of human nature arises – money – propping rather than weakening traditional oppression. The world wilts, the environment immolates and mass suffering mercilessly perpetuates.
The beginning of the second millennium unveils a humankind that devotes the majority of its energy and life, under promise of fleeting pleasures and threat of pariah-status, to the hollow pursuit of profit. Dishonesty, exploitation, and disregard of history and culture thrive.
We await New Sincerity.
The myriad streams of modernity and violent rivers of postmodernity flow into the sea of destiny. From the depths of our soul a solution reveals itself.
To the fearful, cynical and condescending, it appears bafflingly naive and hopelessly complicated, impossibly idealistic and profoundly unambitious.
New Sincerity devotes itself to destiny and a return to our purest essence, enabling solidarity with earth and spiritualism within the universe. It restores meaning to civilization and seeks heaven through humanity.
It embraces compromise and engenders the human consciousness through individual experience. Contemporary science lends itself to such thought; if we are nothing more than a conglomeration of vessels and passageways, organs and nerve-endings, how does the soul exist? Yet it does.
However to reach that shore we must overthrow the old regime – a ravenous universe faithful to vacuity. Like a dark fog, empty faith in nothingness envelopes the mind. The meditation becomes the obstacle, the nightmare, the sickness.
How can one shatter the chains of thought control?
Modernism wrought unprecedented destruction – totalitarianism, global bloodbath, financial crash, holocaust and mushroom clouds. Higher principles guided manic genocide. Monstrosities of the modern age suggested that mankind could never escape its feral disposition.
Mankind ceased empowering established institutions. The tenants of liberalism, gaining momentum since the Enlightenment, allowed humanity to cultivate individualistic values and attitudes alongside private property and outside of rooted oppression.
The worship of finance ensues. It bends and breaks ideologies and cultures to accommodate its logic. By deifying the process humanity forged a weapon of deconstruction, acutely sharpened to sever the pillars of modernity.
Existentialism escaped the obligations and practices of church and state. Injustice guised as tradition came to light.
Fueled by the momentum of their parents’ ideologies and reactionary spirit, the youthful counterculture movements of the late 1960s wheedled the ideals of liberalism from capitalism’s problematic heterogeneity. A new world seemed possible.
But humanity crushed its children’s revolution. Under no less a threat than death, the young returned to the commercialized world of consumption and need production.
Like a plague introduced to combat another infestation, allegiance to nihilism, capital, and consequently the metaphysical collapse of space and time contaminate intent.
Capitalism co-opts all previous powers into its aegis. Money spirals into a contradictory black hole – an institution without institutions, a value without value, an index with no index, with power over individuals that no individual has power to resist.
Through hoarding, the relationship of capital to resources, production, labor, space and time mutates, atrophying its link with morals and needs. The insatiable accumulation of money, progressively more flexible, saps meaning and permanence from the human condition and replaces it with price and instability. Discord trails commodification.
An overdetermined world results. Dualistic beliefs without recognition of each other encourage confusion, then malaise. Society breeds nihilism, devalues thoughts and submits to chaos. Humanity plunges into a maelstrom of inexistence, of instant gratification and disposability.
Postmodernism abets the social deconstruction. History becomes a charade, the charade history; meaning becomes a facade, the facade meaningful.
Thus the market, affirmed by media, arbitrarily slots people into incomplete shells and caskets, indeterminate beyond immediate resonance. The rich become richer and the poor poorer. The black become blacker and the white whiter. The boss becomes bossier and the employee more obsequious. These forms play out delightfully in the hunt for profitability but humiliate the individual.
Capital, as both a symbol of actual labor and a source of power, subordinates reality to the conceptual. It has no physical embodiment while embodying the physical. Yet it contains no perceptions, empathy, or morality.
Money ignores the nature of humanity, but we have made its accumulation and brutal reinforcement of castes and forms a societal law.
Therefore, New Sincerity regards capitalism and its mythology as the chaotic agents of illusion.
In support of grueling material consumption and painstakingly extracted growth, postmodernism depends on a warped barrage of art, intellectualism, labor, and spirituality to overwhelm. It obliges the body, via derelict triggers and associations, to propel the currents of capital despite inevitable breakdowns and depression.
Centers of power, coveting growth and consent, emit ostensible truths and deep in the human consciousness recognition flickers, as if from a coma. These untruths include democracy, egalitarianism, freedom, art, love, and the like – meaning that we yearn for, lost and shattered in the fragmentation.
Nominal conjuration of these concepts manipulate by summoning values from the ancient world, now fallow – runes inscribed over thousands of years of human being.
Separated from our ancestors and inner selfs, perforce cut off from destiny, despairingly we turn to ostensible truths that further ensnare us in hedonism and addiction. Both mind and body freeze in paroxysms of schizophrenia, no longer assured a future.
The justification behind such a process enters other arenas as well. The immediate and symbolic becomes not only preferable and fetishized but our only mooring, dispossession our sole fate. TV obsoletes books. Digital overtakes face to face conversation. Processes dominate the finished product.
Inane cinema, music, programs and theater swarm incessantly, indistinguishable from volleys of billboards and logos. The rotting myth of capital fills our experience like burnt sugar.
Apathy follows. We find ourselves in the midst of dystopia, cattle in a metal herd on the freeway, shackled to email and cellphone, indoctrinated at school and workplace, overwhelmed and stupefied through the media, disempowered by credit agencies and banks. Profound, glacial suffering anchors upon the soul.
In the personal realm heartrending semblances of goodness remain. Humanity claws through depthless torpor. People summon incredible decency and courage in an ocean of frigid indifference. In muted defiance, we confront our sordid constructs, we aid one another to do the same. With humility we navigate the patches of sunlight.
But we dodge a neo-inquisition, a cruel theocracy revering temptation. Even ties between kin quiver before the rending cleave of capitalism and its aesthetic. The hell of social decline enslaves all.
Once again, under the guise of civilization, the primal, irrational nature of man stirs. In the mind, a new war launches for control of the body.
Earth faces a crisis perpetuated by collective nihilism that portends extinction. The instruments of cataclysm, global warming and exhaustion of fresh water, do not pose a novel dilemma. Nature has humbled us from our earliest days and will forever.
The modern hysteria derives from loss of control over civilization’s arch, a sunder between society and the human essence. Within this fissure we find ourselves paralyzed by madness, unable to adapt, to save our cities. We tremble before the storm.
When pushed to desperate emptiness, a revelation occurs. In the same way that nothingness conceived the universe, unmeaning gives birth to meaning.
Society buries humanity like fossils in the ground. Within the chaos the extraction and recovery of the real from the ostensible occur unnoticed. Illusion reveals a weakness, inability to banish hope. Parcels of truth zigzag freely. The seeds of faith outlast the winter of postmodernism.
Lust for sensation evolves into desire to experience fully and deeply. This painstaking journey creates New Sincerity, a child of self-commodification. Ownership of self returns to the earliest, purest thought – ergo sum. The body recognizes itself again, relieved, and halts short of the crags overlooking death. Meditation ceases and self emerges sincerely.
To exist without not existing brings suffering. To not exist avoids suffering but leads to physical demise. However, the non-extant cannot die. From the contradictory revelation of bereavement the meditation ends, enlightenment blossoms and the soul comes to exist and not exist.
One errs in claiming that self must die to experience this. Although enlightenment shines through death, the secret lies in life. We must live.
Then live! You were sick, but now you’re well, and there’s work to do.
Acknowledge existence and esteem experience. Streak wildly through the fields of romance, drink the golden nectar of destiny. Free yourself from the chains of indifference, submit to the awesome power of God.
Envisage a corporeal world built upon a frame of true meaning, replacing the bricks and mortar of greed and fetishism. Produce sincere institutions and customs – community – couple them with society. Reunite mind and body.
Medicine men, griors, dreamers, children of revolutionaries, awaken! Adopt the cause of your parents! New Sincerity commands a unique conquest for the guardians of earth, waged on aesthetic and social battlefields. Imagine heaven in this world, heaven through humanity. All of space and time stretch into canvas and life into dyes.
Through our multifaceted hues we paint a new holy age, an epoch of exuberant artist-philosophers, of technological spirituality, of civilized sporadicity, a collective fiercely committed to individuality, of individuals willing to sacrifice for the collective, of true myths and mythical truths, of dancing and music.
And how do we arrive there? Through compromise. Compromise from one to another, between inexistence and meaning, laborer and scholar, human value and capital, with history, destiny and now.
Do not displace the columns of capitalism for temples to the new authority. Rather, reform the structures and bonds already in place, seek meaning in all phases of existence.
Deconcentrate power from the imploding regime of meaninglessness and focus it upon the shining nexus of perception, empathy, and morality – the purest essence of humanity.
Live! Embrace your fellow man. Because we all walk the ancient path, bear the burden of mortality, love until it sears, face life with grace and death stoically.
Live! Diffuse your soul throughout the heavens, mix it with oneness, add breath from the mountains and tears from the ocean.
Live! Humanity awaits.
“I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work. And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow…” – Woody Guthrie
*All paintings from Angu Walters!
This brings to mind Hegel’s view of human development in the broadest historical scale: thesis –> antithesis –> synthesis. We have had history for such an incredibly brief span of the time that humans have existed. We are only starting to realize its potential, for analyzing societal conditions that lead to the maximum common good. Alan Dershowitz has a good beginning in his book Rights And Wrongs: A Secular Theory Of The Origins Of Rights. He argues that rights do not have any “divine” or “natural” cause, but that we should establish them based on our historical record, which clearly shows where the absence of particular rights allows people to do harm to others. That evidence is all the reason we need to establish and maintain those rights.
Your post also reminds me of Fukuyama’s “end of history” and Huntington’s “clash of civilizations”. In the final synthesis, I think that both will exist and occur simultaneously, though the clash will no longer be discordant, it will be harmonious, like a symphony is made up of so many different parts. I don’t foresee that in our lifetimes, but I do have faith that it will ultimately happen, and strongly believe the saying from Pirkei Avot (“Sayings Of Our Fathers”) – a Jewish book of wisdom – “although it is not up to you to complete the work, neither are you free to desist from it”.
Cheryl thanks so much for your thoughts!
It’s funny you mention Hegel that concept greatly influenced my ideas when I wrote this…
I so so hope you’re right…I love the saying from Avot…I have strong faith that it will happen too and certainly not in our lifetime…but I would love to witness a major shift. Our hearts are changing…I hope our condition does as well…
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