Ironic headline in today’s The Province out of Vancouver, BC.
Yes, indeed. “Thinks” are going to get a lot more worster.
I awoke this morning to this article by Zoe Williams in The Guardian (“On the spectrum of deceit, ministers have gone off the scale“) about the degeneration of political speech and practice in the UK. And although her focus is “post-truth politics” and the democratic deficit there, it seems to be the trend everywhere, including here in Canada where a “culture of lying” has become pretty much entrenched in political speech and practice.
What Williams calls “post-truth politics” is what I have been calling “post-Enlightenment” or “death of God” politics. Let’s say that “Truth” is another one of those higher values being ground down by the dynamics of our “two centuries of nihilism”, as Nietzsche forecast it.
Is this tendency simply, as Rosenstock-Huessy suggested, a case of cowardice and a general failure of nerve? Another aspect of what Christopher Lasch once called “the culture of narcissism”?
“Even if the dualistic appearance of Matter and Force be insisted on, it does not really stand in the way of this Monism. For it will be evident that essential Matter is a thing non-existent to the senses and only… a conceptual form of substance; and in fact the point is increasingly reached where only an arbitrary distinction in thought divides form of substance from form of energy…. Matter expresses itself eventually as a formulation of some unknown Force. Life, too, that yet unfathomed mystery, begins to reveal itself as an obscure energy of sensibility imprisoned in its material formulation; and when the dividing ignorance is cured which gives us the sense of a gulf between Life and Matter, it is difficult to suppose that Mind, Life, and Matter will be found to be anything else than one Energy triply formulated, the triple world of the Vedic seers. Nor will the conception then be able to endure of a brute material Force as the mother of the Mind. The Energy that creates the world can be nothing else than a Will, and Will is only consciousness applying itself to a work and a result.” – Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine
We are living through Nietzsche’s anticipated “two centuries of nihilism”; a time in which “all higher values devalue themselves”, as he gave as his succinct definition of nihilism. Gold transmuted into lead; the noble degraded into the ignoble — refinement become confused with reductionism, which confusion of values is itself an example of the process of nihilism.
Still, despite his anticipation of unprecedented tragedies and degradations, Nietzsche managed to remain cheerfully confident that the human race would emerge on the other side of the crucible transformed and transfigured by the experience.
Reading up today on the controversy surrounding the revelations made by Edward Snowden concerning the NSA “total” surveillance system, I came across Glenn Greenwald’s article questioning the espionage charges being brought against Mr. Snowden for causing “injury to America”. Greenwald responds with the sensible question: who actually is causing “injury to America”?
But what is “America”?
“Greed is good”, croons Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s movie Wall Street. Stone was later surprised to discover that his anti-hero, Gekko (an allusion to a reptile by that name), is actually worshiped as a hero on Wall Street.
Is greed “good”? Are the greedy reptiles, in the sense of being an atrophied or retrograde form?