||Systems in crisis
|Era (all dates
approximate and are for leading-edge societies)
||Over by 1700
||1914-1980; native for those born before WWII
||1964-1990; native for Baby Boom generation
||1975-2001; native for Generation X
||2001-?; native for Millennials
||Hypothetical present or near future
|Problems this mode addresses, created by the previous one
||Challenge of alternatives. How do we know our way is
right and all others are wrong?
||Failure of all foundations. Nihilism:
meaninglessness, materialism, disenchantment of the world
||Failure of mainstream culture, society, and self to
provide meaning; disgust at hypocrisy, business-as-usual, and moral breakdown
||Countercultures deny diversity, are revealed as
idealistically impractical, fail to find new foundations; mass movement
cannot provide community
||Subculture does not provide adequate breadth or depth of meaning; exploitation/parasitism relationship with mass-scale culture and society
||Overwhelming ocean of meaning; triviality
(distraction from value judgement); perceived tensions between internet and
“real life”; collapsing legacy systematic-mode institutions
||Supposed foundations for certainty: scripture, rationality, science, personal or collective revelation. Rational, universal, coherent
||Totalitarianism (attempt to force systems to work); existentialism (attempt to create personal meaning out of nothing)
||Alternatives (monist and dualist). Universalist (supposed to be right for everyone).
Explicitly anti-nihilist. Draws heavily on 1800s Romanticism; abandons rationality
||Subcultures provide diverse bodies of meaning, without attempting foundations. Exclusivity
limits group size to provide community. Abandons universality
||Global consumer culture provides
conveniently-packaged morsels of meaning to cover all eventualities. Abandons coherence
||Watercraft on the sea of meanings. Meta-systematic, complete stance: reinstates rationality, universality, coherence, but recognizes their nebulosity
||Incoherent traditions, accepted without question
||Attempts to formalize/ rationalize/ systematize
culture. Classicism followed by Romanticism.
||Development of avant-garde; beginning of the
||Development of new cultures as self-conscious,
positive mass alternative. Collapse of high culture/pop culture distinction
||Repeated fissioning of subcultures. Genre obsession.
Hipsterism. Quest for “authenticity.” Postmodernism.
||Universal soup of tiny culture-bits. Kaleidoscopic,
hypnotic, senseless reconfiguration.
||Groundless creative production; awareness of the intertwining of nebulosity and pattern; synergistic remix. Collaborative, improvised, intimate
||Unquestioned, simple social structure
||Complex, rationalized social structure; bureaucracy
||Social structures increasingly diverse and
problematic; competing political theories; world wars and clash of
||Brotherhood of all counterculture participants
||Subcultural tribalism: communities based on narrow
but innovative shared values/interests. Rituals replace belief systems.
||Global society moves into interactive media; virtual
communities; social networks enable larger, geographically dispersed
||Transitory organizations spontaneously assemble within a durable social infrastructure matrix. Ongoing meta-systematic re-negotiation of individual/subsociety/superstructure interfaces
||Person fixed by unquestioned social role; no awareness of inside/outside distinction
||Self as unitary, rational individual, with an “inner life,” and an explicitly-defined relationship with society
||Age of anxiety: growing awareness of internal incoherence.
||Self defined by membership in one counterculture (and rejection of the other counterculture)
||Identity derives from subcultural allegiance. Integration of personality a receding ideal.
||Atomization of self due to always-on internet: massively more interruptions, entertainments, relationships, tasks
||Self explicitly accepted as fluid, nebulous assembly, inherently in dynamic interaction, with transient characteristics but no essential nature
||Traditional forms; community production; no sense of
||Self-conscious art music (“classical” in
the broad sense). Cult of the composer
||Crisis in classical music; nihilistic atonality. Serialism. Jazz.
||Everyone in Boomer generation listens to all countercultural music, regardless of genre. In dualist counterculture, attempts at Christian alternative
||Punk as first mass subculture. Not intended as a
universal alternative; explicitly nihilistic. Repeated fragmentation of
genres into sub-sub-genres.
||Ludicrousness of genre leads to mash-ups.
Run-DMC/Aerosmith “Walk this way” video collaboration as early explicit
||Genre as musical element, like melody and rhythm, to
use and play with. Democratization of music production and distribution as
computer tools (DAWs, Soundcloud) improve.
|Sex and gender
||Unquestioned sex roles
||Sex roles reinforced by systematic ideologies
||First wave feminism
||Second-wave feminism in the monist counterculture. Moral Majority & “family values” in dualist counterculture
||Fragmentation of feminism: pro- vs. anti-sex, egalitarian vs. essentialist.
LGBTQ, Quiverfull, men's movements, orthosexuality, Bears, PUA, NoFap, Rules Girls, furverts, …
||Intersectionalism. Jagged, incoherent, decontextualized political and
ethical claims about sex and gender that have escaped from subcultures
||Whole-hearted ironism; recognition that there is no
fair system and conflict is inevitable; passion & compassion together
||Miscellaneous practical superstitions; karma, merit,
and auspiciousness; monastic economics. Entirely unknown to Consensus
||Scriptural Buddhist theorizing
||Buddhist modernism: importation of new,
rationalizing foundations from West, as a response to cultural breakdown in
||Consensus Buddhism: hybrid of Asian Buddhist modernism with American monist counterculture
||Diverse Western Buddhist subcultures, mainly
developed by charismatic Asian modernizers. No serious attempt at
universality. Spurious rhetoric of traditionalism (usually actually Asian
||McMahan: “Global folk Buddhism.” Dharma burgers.
Vapid @DalaiLama tweets. Fake Buddha quotes. McMindfulness. Eckhart Tolle.
||Buddhism as amorphous assemblage of means for
transformation of culture, society, and self by uniting spaciousness and
passion to unclog energy and empower nobility
||Considered a realistic physical danger
||Symbolize incoherence as challenge to the system
(Church, Nation, and/or rationality) [Bram Stoker’s Dracula]
||Monstrous Other as Romantic anti-hero [Ann Rice; Dark Shadows]
||Monstrous Self as Romantic anti-hero [Laurel K.
Hamilton's Anita Blake books]
||Monstrosity (incoherence) of the self as a practical
hassle that can be managed [Kim Harrison]
||Trivialization of no-longer-threatening incoherence
[Twilight as first attempt]. But
fails until we have fully digested shadow
||Nobility of vampires as creative, benevolent
appropriation of personal incoherence
||Mythological food taboos; pre-systematic practices
of hunting, gathering, growing, harvesting, cooking, sharing, and eating it
||Mainstream state/academic/industrial food
ideologies: Domestic Science, Home Economics, Nutrition
||On-going; the mainstream is still strong in this
domain, oddly enough
||Hippie health-food culture; macrobiotics;
||Subcultural food ideologies: proliferation of
variants of vegetarianism (vegan, fruitarian, etc); Slow Food; locavorism;
raw foodism; paleo; etc.
||Commercial diet fads; magic ingredient of the week;
proliferation of decontextualized health/nutrion claims in food marketing;
||??? [Current paucity of knowledge makes future