Wednesday, September 30, 2009
New Myths, Models, and Metaphors
A new spiritual, mystical, and global consciousness is manifesting. A new world is forming; an inevitable evolutionary step for humanity. An Emerging Culture with a PostModern Worldview versus Traditional Narratives.
An acknowledgment, recognition, and acceptance that,
"All is One."
"We are all connected."
"We are One."
This includes a growing ability to have empathy and sympathy for others. To understand multiple viewpoints and belief systems. To see beyond the duality of conceptions, of Black & White, Us & Them, Good & Evil.
This is a relevant, positive distillation of a fundamental "Spiritual," "Holistic" view. Recent experimental attempts were the Psychedelic 60's and the New Age 80's; both eras had silliness and dead-ends, but both laid the foundation and groundwork for more thoughtful and valid systems.
Philosophical precursors range from the Neoplatonism of Plotinus, to the works of William Blake, and include the body of thought called The Perennial Philosophy, or the Ageless Wisdom. Many of the arising elements are from the category of Mysticism.
More and more, we are seeing Religion facing-off against Spirituality. New ideals are slowly being accepted, which will eventually lead to the falling away of organized religion and its old-fashioned institutions.
Many world problems and conflicts are the Birth Pangs of the new belief system: The Culture Wars, Conservative "versus" Liberal/Progressive, Fundamental Christianity and Fanatical Islam....
These are signs of the Old World/Status Quo trying to hang on to their old ways.
No one is to blame for our current predicament. Generally, people's drives, needs, and desires are valid -- just confused -- mixing and misunderstanding the metaphors; taking them too literally. Trying to make sense of the new via the old.
"We look at the present through a rear-view mirror," as Marshall McLuhan said.
We all have the strong desire and need for MEANING:
Who Am I? What Am I? Why am I? How did it all get started? Where is it all going? Organized religion offers ready-made answers. Science can explain quite a bit. Psychology can help. Spiritualism offers various explanations. Philosophy, such as Existentialism, which says -- and it's not synonymous with Nihilism -- that we have to find the meaning ourselves.
Ultimately, you have to figure it out by yourself.
So... Where to start? How de we make sense of all this?
By coming up with new ideas, new beliefs, new connections, and new relationships.
We need New Myths, New Models, New Metaphors....
New Mythic Stories are all over the place. In films, music, comic books, anime, role-playing games -- or conversations with your friends and strangers.
Look around: Magic is afoot.
Mysticism is bubbling beneath the surface: On TV in Lost, Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Sabrina, Medium. In the movies as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars. The Matrix is thinly-veiled Gnosticism. Religion morphed from Touched By an Angel to the more complex Joan of Arcadia. The young-wired-multitasking generation are the Mutant Generation of Super-Heroes, Spider-man, Superman and Smallville, The Batman, The X-Men, The Hulk. In comic books and graphic novels like Watchmen, Sandman, The Invisibles, and Promethea. There's the popular manga and anime like Yu-Gi-Oh!, stories in Shonen Jump, and many, many others. Role-playing and Card Games like Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and PC or online games, Myst, EverQuest, Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, and Halo. Many mediums overlapping with blurred borders.
Not to mention the online communities like this one, where every kind of interest -- however noble or outré -- exist side-by-side. Be anyone you want online. Kids are especially adept with electronic technology, they've grown up being able to control The Screen. Digital info is a way of life. Chatting online while text messaging and taking pictures with their ubiquitous cell phones while listening to their iPods... Whew!
These are all ways to experiment with -- and learn about --
The New Complexity:
Multiple viewpoints, alternate universes, malleable reality. New definitions of the Self. The Other as a facet of Your Self.
The World Wide Web makes everything available to everyone:
that's the Information Revolution...!
If you see and are made aware of starving people, or people dying of AIDS, or people hurt by natural disasters -- just being AWARE of this changes you, whether you know or not.
If you see religious people who think we are in the End Days, or religious people who feel so threatened they turn to terrorism, or spiritual people who say they've seen another world -- it AFFECTS you, if you admit it or not.
This is the Melrose Place Effect: Everybody's in everybody else's business.
We're in a global village. The Info Net of communications create this intense feedback loop: instant data. Wisdom is needed to deal with this Wired New World. Can the Bible, Koran, Torah really deal with nuclear weapons, stem cells, genetic engineering, and global climate change?
And more changes are on the horizon. Humans will be able to manage their own evolution via bio-engineering, cloning, computer chip implants, altered brain chemistry. People will live longer and have enhanced intelligence.
Will this fractionate people into new classes, with new priorities? The standard definition of human will have to be updated. And there's Artificial Intelligence, the sentient machine, who'll speak up one day, "Uh, excuse me, but--"
Is the wisdom of Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed, going to be enough to deal with this 21st century complexity?
Humanity now has to face more change than at any other time in history. People can't help feeling fear of too much and too abrupt CHANGE. That's why many get caught up in expecting The Apocalypse/Doomsday/Rapture/Second Coming -- they want something to save them. While many other people have the general unease that "Things are Getting Worse." Apprehension of tomorrow. The future is inevitably unknown and therefore different, new, and strange.
It is hard to avoid psychological Future Shock.
Well, at least we finally grew out of the Cold War -- until 9/11.... wherein Mr. George Bush reacts to a massive horrific event the only way he knows how and, feeding off people's understandable fear, he launches into a "War on Terrorism," waging deadly wars in the Middle East -- oblivious to the complexities of factions of people with different belief systems who acted appallingly because they're scared -- and then all we do is to confirm their worst beliefs.
Children fighting in a sand box. Adults might have a more nuanced discernment that sees beyond "Good" and "Evil." These terms of abstraction are too simple and outdated.
Anyway, all the old-school, backwards-reacting by the Bush Administration and the Christian Right -- "Them" -- helps to define "Us." That the old institutions are aggressively flailing about, with obvious desperation, and having some apparent success: it means that we're actually on course.... They're running scared because they know deep down that their days are numbered.
It's hard, but maybe we can even have a bit of empathy and sympathy for them. Our parents and grandparents can be a pain in the neck, but they did get us this far.
Things are changing.
We may cross the threshold way off in the future, in our lifetime, or next Thursday after lunch.
So let's Imagine...
or at least Pretend,
and at best Envision...
"Everything is going according to plan...."