Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Boomeritis: Post modern Culture & a View of the Future

Boomeritis, a term coined by philosopher Ken Wilber, describes a curious condition afflicting the baby boom generation. In short, "high cognitive pluralism mixed with low emotional narcissism." AKA: a smart, progressive person with a big ego. :-) It's a disease that began infecting human beings during the sixties revolution, when millions of rebellious American and European teens, took full advantage of the rights and freedoms afforded them by Western society and explored the entire spectrum of their egoic autonomy. Busting through every limitation, subverting every authority, and ingesting every psychedelic drug they could get their hands on, they each tumbled out, squinting and dazed, into the bright sunny dawn of the Age of Aquarius.

Boomeritis: a video montage of this post-modernism "disease", narrated by What Is Enlightenment? magazine's Tom Huston, from a retreat with Andrew Cohen

And although that new age, obscured by the rose-colored glasses of hippiedom, wasn't all it was cracked up to be, it did mark the birth of an actual new stage of human consciousness and culture. Historians, sociologists, and philosophers call it postmodernity, and its defining characteristic was the capacity to allow a variety of differing viewpoints, cultures, and worldviews to peacefully coexist in an egalitarian embrace. Today this multicultural consciousness is also frequently called "pluralism" for its ability to honor and respect a multidimensional plurality of perspectives, and is recognized as being the singular fuel behind the revolutionary fire of the sixties—having ignited the flames of feminism, civil rights, animal rights, gay rights, ecological activism, Vietnam war protests, sexual liberation, and even rock 'n roll. The Beatles' song "All Together Now," for example, perfectly captures the fundamental sentiments and sensitivities of the pluralistic stage of development.

But every social revolution has its downsides, and postmodernity had, and continues to have, plenty of its own. Perhaps the most obvious and unfortunate side-effect of postmodernity's noble intentions to include and embrace all worldviews and cultures—leaving no individual or social group behind to be marginalized or oppressed—is that by idealistically championing "equal rights," it ends up flattening all value judgments into an ultra-egalitarian pancake. Wilber has dubbed this postmodern landscape "flatland"—a world in which no value distinctions, no judgments, and no hierarchies are allowed, and in which it's considered "politically incorrect" to judge another person, group, or even worldview as being fundamentally better or worse than any other.

Source: sorenl


  1. I knew you were going to pring up the question of psychoanalysis in quest for democracy sooner or later.

    Yeah, maybe...

    they're framing this process of dissolution of hierarchies (which is based on very contestable psychoanalytic model) in an exclusively Conservative way of thinking. Like, "I'm used to pluralism, but when 911 happened I felt that I had to react"... or something like that.

    but what they're not saying is that "flatness" was effectively conquered and made to serve the higher powers that be: the mindless consumer culture, the depoliticization, and the nubness toward the environment and hundreds of thousands of people killed in Iraq, etc. In US alone more than 300 million prozac prescriptions are given, wich makes US both proportionally and nominally the most depressed country in the world. So, if they're gonna put forward a contentous theory of that kind, I must note that it works both ways.

    Remember what Zac from Rage Against the Machine says? Anger is a gift.

    But then, I have never heard of this psychoanalyst, but I heard of and read Lacan, Freud, Jung, Guatarri, Zizek and others. And lets not forget that Id is the lifesourse, the libido, the will to power, the endless fountain that spurts in all directions. Bakunin called this inborn faculty "the instinct to rebel", long long before there was such a thing as psychoanalysis. And what these guys are doing is pathologyzing the Id -- it's like saying "It is a disease to want to live". There is also a strange contradiction in claiming that Big Ego and Numbness go together. The extent of the Ego is based on the extent of the Id. Ego has been encouraged and bread in Western culture since the Renaissance (think, for instance of such narcissitic personal mini-holidays as Birthdays, which are a very western thing and something Kurds, for instance, don't have). The Id is the progressive drive of any society, when it goes through the proper Super-Ego rather then the repressed sexualities and disciplinary procedures. The notion of Free Will comes from this. The notion of Cartesian Rationality too, which was a foundation of modernist science and politics. And out of this narcisstic culture also comes the notion of MAN - an autonomous subjectivity... a thinking Unit who is rational and who believes that his thoughts are his own. The whole notion of Democracy and the voting principle (which are essentially a big lacuna) are based on this notion of Autonomous Individual who believes that he knows what's best for himself. (which is why I believe that Culture which mediates subjectivities is of paramaunt importance -- Culture and Value system that springs from a certain mode of relationship beween labour and end-product)

    But then again, hierarchies have not disappeared. Strictly speaking, they cannot dissapear for as long as there is Language (Derrida). Neither did they get flattened into this pancake. If anything, these hierarchies and amplitudes as high as ever. There is Reaction from all the sides -- Reaction, rather then responce and responsibility.

  2. The fact is - I'm a horrible individualist, and that nobody apart from myself should take any decisions that will affect my future.

    I remember returning from my year of study in the US believing that I can do EVERYTHING! Be a president if I like, etc... however the dozen or so years following that have made me doubt the very meaning of the desire to be on the top - the president,etc.

    I think it is pointless. I think the one and only way I can reach peace with myself is through continuous pursuit of self-development and creation... in fact I only feel happy when writing a song or playing the guitar - the rest seems meaningless... but I recognize, that as a developing personality, I will have to grow out of this stage as well, and anything that helps me see an alternative point of view is helpful, like this video, which I mostly disagree with, or disapprove, however, it gives me yet another dimension to look at, and so does your comment!