As I have written before, the creation of great works of art such as paintings, murals, statues, or classical music are warning signs of a decaying or stagnant society. These things are indicative that people who were once engaged in struggles or in an environment that took up their time and had harsh selection have entered a period where things have relaxed in some serious manner to allow for leisure and introspection. While the works created in this period can be inspiring or beautiful or admirable, these works signal a transition of growth to stagnation and sloth. For all the great art and cultural artifacts created, the vast majority of people are not putting the easiness and wealth of that time to use in a beneficial manner. Soon thereafter, a collapse or at least some sort of serious decay, both social and biological is almost guaranteed to occur.
This essay is not about art, but rather philosophy. Philosophy and writing in general can be creative and artistic, but it is more analytical in nature. The people who engage in it and are good at it are generally suited to be engineers or managerial people of sorts. The people who do philosophy or writing poorly are irrelevant and are seen in every age and condition, just like there are bad painters, sculptors, or musicians in every era and condition in every type of society.
If you look at when Greek philosophy reached its peak, when Roman “philosophy” (I say it in quotes because it was a poor legalistic imitation of Greek philosophy) reached its peak, when German philosophy reached its peak, and when French philosophy reached its peak, you will see that this was right before or at the beginning of decay and eventual mediocrity. The same pattern is visible across geography and time because the same mechanics are at play: philosophy peaks when the options for real thinkers and people interested what is true have been removed in the traditional sense. When honesty, when opportunity for success without sucking up or sucking off, when creativity and generative are no longer rewarded by a society, then philosophy begins to bloom. The truly excellent thinkers with unique perspectives and backbones, the people who don’t want to do a job for money or social adulation, begin to self-select out of society and choose a life that is inwardly directed, that is a sign that that society is headed nowhere good.
This process is a molting of sorts -- or more accurately fermentation. The underlying forces driving the society have shifted from positive and rewarding people who have characteristics which are honorable, to rewarding the corrupt or evil people who have characteristics which are dishonorable. At first, the honorable people in the society make a good faith effort to fix the society or reform it, but if this does not work (and it almost never does, especially now that everything is so interconnected) then eventually the futility of this project is realized, and these honorable people give up trying to fix the external and instead focus on the internal. Something shifts in the air, the spirit of the society is shown to be fundamentally unsalvageable, and this is the fermentation.
This fermentation is spiritual or psychic in nature, but it functions much like fermentation of food works. Underlying flavors are revealed in ways they were invisible prior to the fermentation. In the context of philosophy, this means that things which were hidden become visible. Through free time and disconnection on a fundamental level, thinkers are able to examine relationships and dynamics that were unable to be examined when society was more positive on the surface level. I say surface level, because the values and structure of society are phenomenological in nature and are simply time-lagged symptoms of underlying, deeper mechanics that are not really changing. Much like fermentation, the materials holding together and structuring society get broken down and fit each other much more loosely, that which was once nuanced becomes obvious, and in its obviousness, its mechanics are revealed in ways which they could not be revealed prior.
America seems to be beginning this stage that Greece, Roman, German, and French societies went through and finished. I focus on those specific societies because those are the ones I am most familiar with, but I’m sure this stage is common across all cultures and peoples who were once successful or impressive in some manner but now linger in stagnation and mediocrity. At this point, there is so much obvious corruption and nepotism that the only people interested in traditional careers or status in the American system are very sickly or stupid people. Anybody with sincere or impressive aspirations, anybody who is not a slave to social status or willing to suck off middle managers and crawl on all fours in front of deranged despots, anybody who has a soul, knows that there is nothing to be gained or earned in an honorable way in the traditional American system. As such, there does seem to be a spark of intellectual perspective by people in America who know they don’t have any traditional path to success or comfort with their dignity intact.
Perhaps I am just talking about myself, and I am before my time and there is nobody besides myself in America who is actually making interesting works of art or examining interesting ideas in a generative manner, but I am too humble to assume that to be the case. While I am the only one I know who really is examining issues in a fundamental manner which can be considered exceptional or noteworthy, I assume that there are others around my age that are similar in talents and output as me, who are simply not known to me yet. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I am just ahead of my time, but I do know that it is only matter of time until there are many people like me who emerge from America, because America is entering this period of pre-death, this period of molting or fermentation, where analytical and creative people seemingly pop out of nowhere because those analytical and creative people have been locked out of participating in a corrupt and disgusting society.
This philosophical fermentation that I have been born into or am a preview of is the second to last stage in a society’s death. The realization that this society cannot be salvaged, that most people are hopeless and self-destructive, that all governmental and authoritative institutions are either completely corrupted or inevitably on their path to complete corruption, is something I have arrived at and people like me will arrive at, but most people will be incapable of internalizing until things get much worse. America as a society is a dead man walking, it is a shambling corpse. While this period of fermentation develops, the corpse will continue to shamble and great works of art and philosophy will be created, but eventually things will get so bad that the most obvious dullard will be unable to hide from the truth of the impending death of society. At that point, the fermentation or molting will end, the works of art will end, and complete despair and loathing (both internal and external) will begin. That is the final, the death of culture, the death of creativity. At that point, self-cannibalization will begin, and there will be no time for meandering philosophical works or artistic projects which last for years, people like me will go from analyzing to being forced to fight survive as the population will be turned against itself and everybody will be an enemy combatant of sorts. After that occurs, some form of dead equilibrium will be arrived at, and America’s society will be a zombie much like Greece, Italy, Germany, and France have zombie societies. Until that happens, however, enjoy the fermentation.
Seems like a reminder that winter comes after the harvest. I understand the value of dystopian warnings, so that we may do what is in our power to make the world a better place. However, the deeper fermentation of doomsaying and unrest does not vibe with me on a deeper level. I think that society has many unhealthy flaws, but running water, electricity, and highway repairs are all very wonderful. The best is yet to come. It has always been, always will be, and is right now: "the best of times and the worst of times." - Chuckie Dunkins / Chorles Dinkins / Charles Dickens, approximately.ReplyDelete