Video Conversation: The Anomic Age
It's as if we have shifted backwards, as if the past we remember is actually the future — freer, more open, more human — and the culture we took for granted was designed to draw us down into the dark.
Time Out of Time
Where did freedom go? Right now, as we stand surveying the horizons of the future, the true line of freedom-seeking through history has been diverted, perhaps terminally. A new dispensation — new culture, new economy, new way of being — is being built in in our light, without our say-so. How did we not see this coming? How did we live for years or decades in a world that clearly was not what it seemed, not understanding how it was constructed, or sensing the presence of all these sinister forces, lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce? How, living through an age when liberty and democracy were the watchwords, did we not anticipate the power these forces had to reach into our cultures and pick out these individuals among us most hungry for power, or most prone to blackmail, and turn them into monsters?
The world is upside down and inside out — not in ways that we might once have cursed in exasperation for their ‘craziness’ but because all rhyme and reason has disappeared from the Earth. The failure of the older generations to be honest about their experience of freedom, to admit to the nihilism that accompanied the liberation they celebrated, has left the world adrift on a sea of chaos and unreason. The meanings of morality and goodness have been inverted: Filth is fine, white is black and black white, except when it comes to skin-colour. Whole generations of artists and writers and musicians, caught — like Peter Pan — in their individual and collective time-warps, seem to notice nothing amiss. ‘Democratic’ leaders treat their voters with open contempt. Now, as though inebriated with some mind-altering potion, they seek to pull the plug on the culture of freedom and tell us that containment and mutism are for our own good.
It is a though we have slipped out of time, fallen behind where we used to be, or where we used to think we were. Doesn’t it feel as if the past has become the present and the present slipped into a dark corner of history?
And was the whole thing a con anyway? Was the ‘freedom’ not merely a distraction to prepare us for its antithesis? Was anything real? Was the soundtrack of our existence in freedom written not by the icons we were encourage to attribute it to, but by other figures hiding in the shadows? And, if so, who were these men and women — can we know them even now and seek to piece together that parallel history in the hope that it may yet reveal itself to be the true line of our trajectory, in which the faces might change but the songs remain the same? Is there a need to go through everything, to revise all the lies, and create a new annunciation of the human freedom project as expressed in popular culture, music and thought? Don’t the old have a responsibility of custodianship to the culture that made them sentient and free, to at least stay true to the values that made them so — so that their children might know something of the same excitement and joy? Or was that culture subject to built-in obsolescence all the time?
What might rebellion look like in such a world? Surely not what it looked like in ’68!
I speak of these and other pressing matters to my old interlocutor, John Age — on The Anomic Age:
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On the Anomic Age website:
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