I don’t know why some observers now speak of a “post-ironic” phase. I see ironies everywhere. Neo-liberalism now on the defensive, even according to the IMF — withering from with, as Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty describes it, (citing an internal IMF research paper “Neo-liberalism: Oversold?”). Meanwhile The Brain of our time, the inheritor of Sir Isaac Newton’s chair at Cambridge University, Stephen Hawking, who announces the death of philosophy but expresses bafflement and perplexity at the popularity of Brand Trump in America with average Joe and average Josephine of The Adverse, while North Korea’s LittleBig Dictator, Kim Jong Un, heartily endorses Trumpismo. He apparently likes the idea of walls.
Looks to me more like the intensification of the ironic rather than any kind of “post-ironic” transition.
I have a humourous anecdote to relate about my own experience with the “nocebo effect”. Nocebo effect is, as you may be aware, the opposite of the placebo effect, although both belong to what we might call “the magical mode” of consciousness and are very much involved in the “intentionality” of consciousness.
You are all familiar with the myth and legend of Parsifal (or “Percival” in English) — even whether or not you realise it and know it as such. It’s blasted across the airwaves every day. It is, perhaps, even the ruling myth of the Western sensibility, with very old roots in the Hermetic Philosophy. Rudolf Steiner reputedly even adopted the legend of Parsifal as his pedagogical model and pattern for his Waldorf Schools. Luke Skywalker, in The Star Wars franchise, is consciously modeled on Parsifal, and the legend is the very likely candidate as model also for “holistic branding” or “brand religion”.
Years ago, in the old Dark Age Blog, I commented on how the Parisfal legend marked the beginning of the High Middle Ages — the story of the fool who becomes a Grail Knight — and ends with Don Quixote, the knight who becomes a fool once more and is mocked by the upcoming revolutionary bourgeoisie. Parsifal and Don Quixote “book end” that Age — are its Prometheus (forethought or foresight) and its Epimetheus (afterthought or hindsight); it’s rise and fall. The original Parsifal, though, is Hermetic code — an alchemical fable.
I work in the hemp industry. I’ve probably never informed you of that. It’s my “day job”.
Some of you will already be familiar with the remarkable properties of industrial hemp. The entire plant is useful — for medicine, for fibre, for food and edible oil, for clothing, and a host of other uses. There has been, lately, an explosion of interest in the plant. In Canada, it has been cultivated for some time. More recently some jurisdictions in the United States have made the cultivation of industrial hemp and research into its many uses a priority — Washington, Colorado, etc. Our business is overwhelmed with requests from from university research laboratories and state agricultural departments in the United States and overseas for our data and our cultivar. So, a little bit of my day job here may soon appear in a neighbourhood near you.
Let me tell you a story. It’s a story of something very human, but which, as is said, is now of something “lost in the mists of time”. It’s the story of a young native man, a near neighbour, really, speaking in temporal or historical terms as well as in geographical terms. It might be considered a contemporary story of the Prodigal Son (or Daughter for that matter). In the telling of the story, I hope to arouse to recollection an ancient memory through awakening your own latent powers of empathy, because his story is also our story.
And so, once upon a time….
In my continuing readings into brand culture and commercial society (which some designate as the “bourgeois society” and bourgeois values) I’m also struck how the apologists for it generally make the great mistake of thinking that consumerism is the “democratisation” of the luxury, sumptuousness, fashion, conspicuous consumption, even profligacy that is assumed to be the preserve of aristocracy. Mass production and advertising, they argue, has democratised the lifestyles previously associated with aristocracy.
What these promoters and apologists for consumerism fail to understand at all is that the luxuriousness, self-indulgence, conspicuous consumption, the pudginess and profligacy of the aristocracy they deem worthy of emulation (or really, envy) were symptoms of the decadence and degeneracy of aristocratic culture and the ideals of nobility. What was, in fact, the diseased and degenerated condition of aristocratic culture is today held out as the ideal, and as being worthy of emulation!
Let me introduce you to “Joe and Josephine”. It’s probably important to get to know Joe and Josephine because they are the Adam and Eve of the contemporary commercial universe of cultural engineering. And comparing this new “Adam and Eve” or the “average Joe” and the “average Josephine” with earlier representations of Adam and Eve will give you a pretty good idea of what Gebser means by the “deficient mode” of the mental-rational consciousness structure.
So, here’s Joe and Josephine… the new “human brand”