Oh the mud splattered victims/Have to pay out all along the ancient highway/

Torn between half truths and victimization/Fighting back with counter attacks.

Van Morrison, in Rough God Goes Riding

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To make sense of your life you must gain self-awareness and, I add: you must locate yourself “on the map” – that is, in time and means in your culture as it presents.

As to self-awareness that’s a two-fold process of the interior journey and a familiarity with the knowledge gained from the narratives that tell us of the human person over time.

As to narratives I mean the classics in literature, religious narratives and their cousins – the myths from various culture (which have common elements and hold viable, lasting insights/truths upon which wisdom rides).

As to you “on the map” it takes a critical eye aimed at culture.

Today we write about taking a critical eye on our culture.

I give you an example.  I am enjoying a series of lectures which examine the advent of Pop Art in the post-WW II West – particularly in the U.S.  The lecturer characterized Pop Art as a form that invokes isolated images (think Warhol’s Soup Cans) produced in a mechanized manner (silk screen, for example) which removed the artist’s hand from the process.  He observed its coldness and at times a resident hostility.  He observed that Pop Art implied a question of contingency – Is the artist necessary?  Of course, he noted that Pop Art arose in the post-War mass communication, consumer-crazed America soon to be dominated by television – the very center of family life and home in the Atomic Bomb New World.

Think about it: isolated images, mechanization, the contingency of the artist and the human person, coldness and hostility, mass communication, consumption, deadly annilation as handy as a bar of soap.

These, Dear Friends, are the initial markers of our post-War life.

It is hard to think of what the lecturer accurately describes and our immersion in it and its culture without seeing and realizing we live in a culture that creates detachment, distance one from another – even one from oneself; a culture where image/appearance is critical and where our contingency hangs in each moment, each breath.  Oddly, we manifest in this a voyeuristic habit of looking and being looked at … television, Polaroids, “home movies,” “selfies” … pornography … Yes, we look but do not touch.

Yes, in celebrity – legions of faux people, crafted images we think we “know:” Oprah, Liz Taylor, John Wayne, Bono, Lady Gaga … John Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis …  The eye without the touch.  People as soup cans and Brillo boxes.

People as commodities, politics as marketing … our comfort in products not people … commodification and dehumanization.  We see people, their good and bad exposed all the while inter-personal relations fade from view, and experiencing another is lost to a time passing all to quickly, soon enough erased from memory.  Our road – one of hollow husks – contingent consumers, artists without hands – too many pitiful performers, drugged, with sad eyes, directionless …

Artists foretell.  They are the earthwake’s first tremors.

Yesterday, I took out after the Party of the Left.  Why?  Because their ideas dehumanize and corrupt life, kill the soul, generate human destruction and decline.

There is no joy in the communist gulag, nor charm in the force of the central state.  One would think that the Nazis and Soviet Communism, Mao, Stalin, Fidel and the Hermit Kingdom would tell us this.  Yet, the Left persists.  Their power is their “selfie” – their “me, me, me – how about me.”

Our way in secularized mass culture must be to preserve the human being, the soul, faith in the Big Picture (how ironic is that!) and each small heart.  Yes, Big Brother is not “Father Knows Best.”

Do you see where you are on the map?

Shalom.

Note – Leftist thinking is common.  As all things common, it is seldom examined.  People being people they claim to prefer freedom but dislike having to think too much about it or, God forbid, have to exert themselves to secure it or live it out.  Lazy, they concede their plight to others – preferring to avoid any “heavy lifting.”  I am not apt to take such course.

 

 

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