Book - The Listening Society - Hanzi Freinacht
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Reality is much more than the facts of the matter. The real reality resides at the crossroads of fact and fiction. It is born precisely at the point where our imaginations, the stories we tell ourselves, meet the facts of the world and put them into context. ( [[ InterSubjective Stories ]])
Summary Quotes on Metamodernism
To see that God is dead and humanism dying (humanism is the humanity-centered worldview originating in the Renaissance) and to accept and celebrate this by taking meaning-creation into one’s own hands
▪ To have a general both-and perspective. But note that it is not either “both-and” or “either-or”—rather, it is both “both-and” and “either-or”. In each case, it is still possible to have well-argued preferences:
- both political Left and Right (and neither one!);
- both top-down and bottom-up governance;
- both historical individuals and social structures;
- both objective science and subjective experience;
- both cooperation and competition;
- both extreme secularism and sincere spirituality.
To be anti-essentialist, not believing in “ultimate essences” such as matter, consciousness, goodness, evil, masculinity, femininity or the like—but rather that all these things are contextual and interpretations made from relations and comparisons. Even the today so praised “relationality” is not an essence of the universe.
To understand the transpersonal view of the human being, where her deepest inner depths are intrinsically intertwined with the seemingly rigid structures of society. She is not an individual—her deeper identity reaches through and beyond the individual, the person. The “person” is just a mask, or a role, dependent on context. It is not inherent to the individual—even if the human organism can of course be described with behavioral science. To see that in the transpersonal perspective, individual people cannot really be blamed for anything. All moralism is meaningless. This translates to a radical acceptance of people as they are; a radical non-judgment that can also be described as a civic, impersonal and secular bid to love thy neighbor
Modern and Postmodern
Modern society is based around beliefs in science, progress, an objective and independent reality, the individual, and so forth. “Modernism”, in this sense, is the standard worldview we get in secular Western societies today
Postmodernism is closely related to such things as relativism, social constructivism and a kind of cynicism that comes from seeing many different perspectives, with no longer being a naive believer in religious, political or even scientific movements. Postmodernism is interested not so much in what is true, in what should be done, but rather in questioning everything, in picking things apart, deconstructing them, to make us think again, to make us less sure, to make life harder for those who would control or manipulate others: the politicians, the media moguls, the scientists and the medical professionals. To the postmodern mind, the goal is to reach an anti-thesis—the critique or criticism of the existing is what counts as a real result; not to give answers but to refute old answers and dwell on new questions.
Ontologically, metamodernism oscillates between the modern and the postmodern. It oscillates between a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naïveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity.” Ontology is a word for what you believe about reality, about what is “really real”. So when Vermeulen and van der Akker claim that metamodernism oscillates “ontologically”, they mean to say that the metamodernist artists adopt a new view of reality itself. In this view you are both a modern believer in science and progress, and a skeptical, ironic critic of your own naive belief.
Basically, metamodernism is keeping the postmodern suspicion of progress and “grand narratives” (science, socialism, etc.) but bringing in the modern hope and sense of direction through the backdoor, as vaguely suggested open potentials.
metamodernism is qualitatively very, very different from postmodernism: It accepts progress, hierarchy, sincerity, spirituality, development, grand narratives, party politics, both-and thinking and much else. It puts forward dreams and makes suggestions. And it is still being born.
So the aim of political metamodernism is to take us from one “modern” stage of societal development (liberal democracy, party politics, capitalism, welfare state) to the next “metamodern” stage of development. It is aiming to outcompete liberal democracy as a political system, outcompete all of the political parties and their ideologies, outcompete capitalism as an economic system, and outcompete and replace our current welfare system.
Metamodern politics aims to make everyone secure at the deepest psychological level, so that we can live authentically; a byproduct of which is a sense of meaning in life and lasting happiness; a byproduct of which is kindness and an increased ability to cooperate with others; a byproduct of which is deeper freedom and better concrete results in the lives of everyone; a byproduct of which is a society less likely to collapse into a heap of atrocities
Personal Development as Key
The king’s road to a good future society is personal development and psychological growth. And humans develop much better if you fulfill their innermost psychological needs. So we’re looking for a “deeper” society; a civilization more socially apt, emotionally intelligent and existentially mature
The Listening Society—which is the welfare of the future, a welfare that includes the emotional needs and supports the psychological growth of all citizens. A society in which everyone is seen and heard (rather than manipulated and subjected to surveillance, which are the degenerate siblings of being seen and heard).
Co-Development—which is a kind of political thinking that works across parties, works to keep ego-issues and emotional investments and biased opinions in check, and seeks to improve the general climate of political discourse: “I develop if you develop. Even if we don’t agree, we come closer to the truth if we create better dialogues and raise the standards for how we treat one another.
Apparently the Danish public was ready for a “party about nothing”. Instead of being based on a readymade political program, the party was formed around a set of principles and values for how to conduct good political discourse and dialogue. The party also has political content, of course, a program with things they want to change, but this was subsequently crowd sourced by its members after the party got founded. Most central to the party’s founding and organization is still the how, rather than the what.
Democratic & Transparent Manipulation
In a way, you could say that they manipulate and conspire, but it is a very democratic and transparent form of manipulation, and a very non-linear and open-ended form of conspiracy, taking place within a very loose network.
Educate and Seduce
To con-spire means to breathe together. The conspiracy is to educate and seduce humanity into taking the path towards a more existential and sustainable civilization. To educate and to seduce—these two words come from the same Latin root. To this playful aristocracy, the world stage is a great, multidimensional puzzle, where the aim is to find unexpected synergies that work in the direction of human development—by way of playing, educating, seducing. They don’t press their agenda on others, but they tickle the dialectic processes to see what emerges, having strong intuitions about in which directions it might go
Basic Idea - Politics Rooted in Psychology
Deliberately and carefully cultivate a deeper kind of welfare system that includes the psychological, social and emotional aspects of human beings, so that the average person, over the length of her lifespan, becomes much more secure, authentic and happy (in a deep, meaningful sense of the word). Once the average person is much more secure, authentic and happy, she also tends (again, on average) to develop into a braver, more mature, more idealistic and reasonable person who cooperates more easily with others and makes better priorities, both individually and politically. Such people can then recreate society in a myriad of ways, solving many of the complex, wicked problems that we are facing today. We are talking about generativity—i.e. the propensity of society as a cultural, economic and social-psychological system to, on average and over time, generate the conditions for psychological thriving and growth to occur. We are not talking about shoving some formula for the good life down everybody’s throat.
As a society, we haven’t fully admitted to ourselves and one another just how sensitive, how utterly emotionally vulnerable, we really are. The aim here is to make this embarrassing truth publicly obvious, so that we can together reshape society thereafter—until even the most sensitive among us can blossom; indeed, until the truly sensitive become our kings and queens
The fact that happiness isn’t everything, doesn’t make it into nothing. Happiness still matters very much if you want to understand the problems of society (related to some of [[ James Hillman ]]’s ideas)
Wicked Problems As An Inevitable Result of Our Personal Struggles
Think about it—given that so many people live in such broken worlds, should it surprise us that we cannot handle transnational challenges such as climate change, globalization, poverty and the disruptive effects of technological innovation? Am I wrong to ask why are we letting all of these things happen without any serious effort to change the situation, to the detriment of people’s lives and to society? We are doing nothing—or much too little—because we haven’t yet developed society to a degree where there are safety nets, common knowledge and institutions that deal with these subtler, more sociological, sides of life
Happiness and Pain are Social
[[ emotions are contagious ]]
Our wounds and insufficient developments do not stay with ourselves—they transmit to other people, often in unexpected and indirect ways. The suffering and stunted development of our citizens are not individual concerns, but matters of utmost importance to society as a whole. They are deeply political, ecological and economic matters
It has been shown in large, influential studies that happiness tends to transmit through networks; a happy friend within a mile tends to make you happier—a neighbor even more; siblings or spouses work too, but to a lesser degree. But happiness and pain are “social” in an even more tangible and intimate way. Hurt, shame and fear make us become mean, controlling bosses, envious friends, lousy parents, bad teachers, thoughtless voters, uncritical consumers and ungrateful neighbors. We shift the blame, as immature people do, and believe that the ills of the world are due to people who are not like ourselves—we become poor citizens, incapable of meaningful dialogue, incapable of universal love and forgiveness
Helping Kids Early
We know that the costs of one kid gone rebel in the rich world are immense, seen over a life span: not entering the labor market, taking up social costs, police work, courts and prison, causing harm to other citizens, reducing general security and causing surveillance and security costs to rise, making the public afraid and thereby more prone to dumb fear-driven politics, and so on. Lately economists and social work researchers have increasingly argued that such “bad kids” should be singled out early on and get the extra support they need; a few years of support teacher salary is a bargain in comparison
Nations As Part of Larger Meshwork of Governance
In the long run, we know that the nation state cannot remain the primary, or at least not the hegemonic, building block of our governance and self-organization. There are two simple reasons for this. The first is that we are increasingly facing problems that are not solvable at the national level. The second is that there are a growing number of “societies” that don’t correspond to nation state constructs, such as dynamic economic regions built around major transnational cities—with growing, influential and successful populations who lead lives beyond nation state identities and national legislative or symbolic frameworks. Basically, there are a growing lot of issues and people and cities that just don’t fit into the nation state. The state can remain, of course, as a kind of administrative and democratic “train station” in a larger meshwork of governance: local, regional, city-based, corporate, continental, digital and global. In other words, the long-term attractor (the point we are likely to approach) is some kind of more intricate meshwork of governance structures and institutions. There are other forms of governance that are beginning to work beyond states—supranational institutions, administrations of strong city regions (often more in tune with the day and age than national parliaments), corporate structures and NGOs. It is true that nation states still control the armies, but warfare is becoming less central to political reality—even if militaristic relapses of geopolitics and wars are unavoidable.
Nations as instrumental
The metamodernist does not hate or despise nations or nationalism. It’s just that they are treated instrumentally; a nation is only worth anything to the extent that it serves all humans; indeed, all animals. We seek to hijack these structures, to remote-control them for purposes that lie beyond them
Metamodernism is the marriage of extreme irony with a deep, unyielding sincerity. These two sides are in superposition to one another. The sincerity makes the irony much more effective, because it becomes genuinely ambiguous; the irony, because it is all-encompassing, creates room for an unapologetic, even religious, sincerity of emotions, hopes and aspirations. Without the irony and the sarcasm, my sincerity would simply be too much; it would awaken severe suspicions, and for good reason too.
Beyond Left and Right
Going “beyond Left and Right” means that we make questions of the relations between public sector, private sector and civil sphere into open discussions where the best empirical arguments for each mechanism, in each case, must be taken into consideration. For instance, do “free markets” work more or less efficiently than state bureaucracies? The answer depends on what area of society we are studying, what values need to be taken into account in our common goals within this area, and what kind of state bureaucracy and how functional a market we have available (markets may not be the best structure for disruptive innovation & [[ markets are not best suited for serving all our needs ]])
Dancing with Complexity
Another foundational metamodern principle holds that you must continuously doubt your own ideological position.
The problem is no longer to get food on the table or to manage the successful extraction of natural resources or the production of cars and medications (although these problems may come back as results of ecological collapse). What is lacking in our day and age is the ability for people to manage complex problems that require patience, knowledge, oversight, creativity, mutual trust and friendly co-operation across sectors, scientific disciplines, cultures and subcultures. In a phrase: the management of complexity. Or, with a term we shall get back to, we require greater collective intelligence.
Nobody Has a Clue
If there is one thing you learn from the study of history, it is this: people don’t have a clue about what they are doing. The first lesson of sociology and critical social science is this: People don’t know what they’re doing. Psychology 101 is this: not a clue, boy. Economics, humanities, arts—it’s the same story. The society we live in today is just an experiment. Nobody has the answers. Nobody knows where it’s going, or why. We don’t even know where we would like it to go. There’s no grown-up out there, looking out for us. Nobody’s home. It’s just one big, glorious chaos engine; busy, busy spawning all manner of unimaginable creatures, existences, relations, exquisite beauties and excruciating tragedies. When you truly see this, an experimental attitude towards society suddenly seems much less reckless or disrespectful. It is the only appropriate stance
Taking ourselves seriously is a form of madness
the very fact that we manage to take ourselves this seriously, when we are almost certain to be utterly blind, confused and downright mistaken about so many, so fundamental issues, can only be described as a form of madness. We are all staring at the incomprehensible, absurd mess that is reality—and with the glazed eyes of mad conviction, we somehow manage to believe that we really get it. Preposterous, really. [[ Socrates ]], as you know, taught that the wisest of the Greeks is he who realizes that he knows nothing (which was himself, by the way). There are Chinese proverbs and Confucian teachings to the same effect. Socratic unknowing saturates the metamodern understanding of politics.
Open-ended directions (Meta-narratives)
When a multiplicity of things explode all at once, in a multidimensional crisis-revolution, our linear models of the world rarely work out—they cannot take on so many different variables (and variables with qualitatively different properties) and their mutual interactions. But that does not mean we should refrain from attempting to understand the times we live in; au contraire, we have even greater reason to analyze society and to try to see the deeper patterns that connect in the chaos. We need directions, but these directions must necessarily be of an abstract, open-ended nature. We don’t need cookbooks; we need general ideas on how to create good cookbooks, so to speak. We need stories about stories. Meta-narratives.
These are case sensitive questions. The answers vary. There is no one answer. It all depends on what institutions, levels of psychological development, technologies and information processes we have available—and which area of social life we are discussing.
Naive efforts to do great things
So in metamodern, non-linear politics we don’t work according to a certain plan going from A to B, but we see the larger, deeper structures of an evolving global society and we play the game of life in accordance with the long-term trends of that picture, in order to increase the likelihood of certain desirable events to occur. Metamodern activists relentlessly make naive efforts to do great things, things that are unlikely to occur at each attempt, but almost certain to occur in the long run, somewhere, somehow. This may feel a little bit pathetic and embarrassing at times. But it is a simple fact that the play-it-safes, in their villas, are not going to change the world. People who make repeated efforts at great things, working with good roadmaps, will.
Cannot Trust Ourselves but We Can Trust our Collective Intelligence
In favor of Book - On Dialogue - David Bohm [[ participatory democacy ]]
The cardinal of all such linear models in politics the belief that “if only people were like me, had my opinions, the world would be alright”. This is the point zero of political understanding. If you have this feeling, you know nothing. The point is that everybody already is like you—a very limited, vulnerable, hurt, single human being with almost infinite distortions and blind spots, working from within the narrow frames of her emotions, intellect and experience. And that is exactly why the world is a complete, utter mess. And because the world is a mess, you are a mess. You cannot trust yourself and your current conceptions and ideas. What then, can we trust? We can—or, at least, we have to—trust the processes that come out of our communication with one another, given that such processes are fair, open, without excessive emotional pressures and are conducted in a shared language. We must trust that if enough people break their ideas and emotional investments against one another, on average, and over time, something better (authentic, resilient, sustainable) can come out of it
How Democracy Cancels Itself
So when democracy begins to fulfill its promise of a people ruling itself through deliberation—it ironically wrecks the whole game that we know as party politics, around which our democratic system is built, because the necessary party division interests break down. By its dialectic development, by the logic of its own productive contradictions, liberal democracy cancels itself.
If a country goes farther left it loses in the face of international competition for capital; if it goes farther towards liberalization, it suffers social paralysis and protests; if it retracts civil liberties (gay marriage, etc.) it loses valuable economic agents; if one ignores the environment or the plight of foreigners one loses the rhetorical battles for moral high-ground
The deeper welfare system is necessary because, without it, you will be outcompeted by other, more listening societies, where citizens truly do thrive. Luckily for the future of humanity, this dynamic sets the world-system on a positive feedback cycle towards greater sensitivity and care, rather than a race to the bottom.
Triple H and Yoga Bourgeois
The yoga bourgeoisie are rich and successful urban dwellers, usually working in the private sector. They have found that money is not the answer to a happy life and therefore begin to cultivate self-awareness, authenticity and intimacy—often in and around yoga parlors, tantra group settings, contact improvisation dance, improvisation theatre, self-help courses and coaches, and to some extent the Burning Man festival and its wider cultural sphere. These people, funnily enough, often work in tandem with the more anti-establishment triple-H people.
Why Hipsters Matter
The hipsters I refer to produce the many symbols that help us to orientate ourselves in, make sense of, and find meaning in the global, digital age. Here you find a wide array of artists, designers, thinkers, social entrepreneurs, writers and bloggers. They develop the ideas of posthumanism, transhumanism, complexity and network researchers, participatory forms of politics and social movements, critique of wage labor (and the often irrational nature of work in the economy), ecological and social resilience, personal development, organizational development, the new gender and sexual relations, our forms of family and community life, the interactions of different cultures—and much more. They also, notably, embody these new thoughts by creating music, fashion, movies, books and games that embody these new values and ideas—and by their own taste in fashion, art and lifestyle
Triple H united by intrinsic motivation
What, then, unites the triple-H population? One thing is that all three groups share an alternative relationship to work and the market: They are all driven by what psychologists of work call [[ intrinsic motivation ]] and self-realization, rather than extrinsic motivation, such as monetary rewards, consumption and security. This means that they work by another social and economic logic than any of the old groups in industrial society
What the triple-H people often don’t understand, however, is that most people do not function like them and do indeed still find meaning and security in the conventional work life—even the ones who don’t like their jobs find structure and context to their lives and earn a much valued paycheck. The demands for basic income are hence often premature and naive, not least because they overlook the developmental psychology of the population (which I present in part two). The triple-H people are children of a new society, and their needs and their solutions are, in the last instance, at odds with the modern, capitalist system.
The Idea of the “Individual” or “Collective” No Longer Works
The idea of the individual was a smart solution under the circumstances that modern, industrial society produced. In today’s globalized information society, however, when the problems of society are of a much deeper and more complex nature, the idea of the individual tends to blind us to the problems as well as to their solutions. The idea of the “individual” no longer fulfills its function as an effective unit of society’s self-organization. As a solution to the problems of society, it no longer does its job
I am offering a related bid for anti-individualism: the transpersonal perspective. The transpersonal perspective holds two seemingly opposed, but in reality complementary, positions.
- The first position is to see society as determined by the deep, inner lives—the most personal relations and tender emotions—of human beings. This takes the unique lived experience of each human being very seriously. Such lived experience is taken to be the very foundation of society: if there is anger or love in our hearts, if there is peace in our minds, and if all manner of psychological issues have been properly dealt with. Such things determine if we turn out engaged world citizens, mindless consumers or bitter reactionaries.
- The second position is that this deeply human and personal experience is in turn created by societal processes that are largely invisible to each single person, and accessible only through a profound and systematic sociological and psychological analysis of society
The idea of the listening society serves the transindividual: The human being is seen as more than a unique, separate life story. The idea of the transindividual sees the human being as inseparable from her language, her deep unconscious, her relations, roles, societal positions, values, emotions, developmental psychology, biological organism and so forth.
To really see the singular human being, to really respect her rights and uniqueness, we must go beyond the idea of the individual; we must see through it and strive to see how society is present within each single person as well as in the relationships through which she is born as a “self”. We go from the idea of the individual (vs. “the collective”), to simply seeing society as an evolving, interlinked set of transindividuals. This is the transpersonal perspective. It’s not just that we are each a billiard ball that “interacts” with other people. We co-emerge.
There is no neutral
Giorgio: I see the quotes below as standing in contrast to many of the principles of Taoism. Usually Taoist wisdom would warn against acting and the possibility of becoming evil, here we acknowledge, we might be evil, but non action would be evil too
Once you see, with a transpersonal perspective, that you are the whole process of evolving language games, that you are the polarities and dynamics of the social and political developments, you also recognize that all of your positions, all of your opinions, all of your choices, both do good and cause harm. You are causing harm, doctor. You are causing harm. If you, like me, are against animal exploitation, you are also saying that you want to denigrate the social status and livelihood of millions of human beings, the honest folks working for generations with animal husbanddry. Yes, I admit it. I would destroy their lives for the greater good of all sentient beings, if that’s what it takes. If you, like me, tend towards liberal stances on narcotics, you are also saying that you would cause many young, innocent people to suffer irreparable psychiatric harm, let them live through unimaginable hells, in order for humanity to stop the global terrorism, civil wars, criminality and prison-industrial excesses emanating from drug bans. Yes, I admit it; I will cause them harm. It is a question of choosing totality over partiality. Partiality is only possible if you believe in the liberal innocent. Once you choose totality, once you begin to see society as a whole, liberal innocence is lost.
You cannot choose not to act
Non action doesn’t exist
And that leads us to a second, even deeper, belief of the liberal innocent: That you can choose not to act, and just be a normal citizen, and that you are thereby innocent. The belief holds that, if you “don’t want to control others” and “just live your life”, you are innocent; that only the politicians, reformists and dictators bear the true responsibility. But you are society as a whole
Acknowledging the Shadow of Idealism
Any true freedom, revolution or open horizon is simultaneously a call to power, a crown to grasp, an adversary to conquer. Even the most heartwarming idealism, be it feminism, peace work or abolitionist animal rights, must act violently to create new hierarchies, new winners and losers. In that violent act, we can never know for certain if we are good or evil; an inconvenient truth if there ever was one. We only know that if we choose innocence, we have chosen evil
The violence of the Metamodern Revolution
This is not revolution on the barricades, and no harm needs to come to human bodies. But people are deeply invested in their ideas and worldviews. To challenge their ways of thinking and sensing is also an act of cruelty and aggression; shattering people’s beliefs, their sense of security, self, ethics and reality. Nothing could be less innocent.
We must discipline ourselves to be temple thieves; to pillage and desecrate the symbols of modern society. So while bodies are spared, and no physical violence is needed, the souls of our fellow human beings do not go unharmed
Development and Hierarchies
Human Beings Aren’t Equal
The terrible truth is this: Adult human beings are not equals. We are as different from one another as adults from children, albeit in various ways and in different regards. This is a trivial point when it comes to single skills: I have friends who lift more than four times what I can on the bench press, some who read at more than three times my speed, some that speak twice as many languages, some that know more medicine than I could dream of, some that have much, much higher IQ, some that are much better at making money (and can easily make a dozen times or more than me in a given period), some who write books at five times my speed (I kid you not) and so on. There is no reason to believe that we do not also vary greatly in terms of overall developmental stages
Admitting Hierarchies Serves Humility
hierarchical stage models that have more stages don’t allow for these mistakes: You are obliged to describe all the relevant stages, how they relate to one another, and you must always admit that there can be higher stages than your own, stages that you don’t yet understand. Rather counter-intuitively, hierarchy, understood correctly, serves openness and humility towards the perspectives of others.
Effective Value Memes
The effective value meme is usually not an explicitly held body of thought—it’s more like the water a fish swims in; how your whole reality appears to you, even before you notice anything that dwells within that reality
Power of the Gods but Without Their Wisdom
The world is a terrible mess because the world-system we live in corresponds to a very high effective value meme, while almost all of the world’s population is still left at earlier effective value memes. We live, essentially, in a retarded world. Our value systems do not correspond to the society we live in
The mainstream modern mind still lives in a vehemently anthropocentric world, where everything in reality is more or less about people and their needs. So you have no problem with mass-killing and torturing animals for the most trivial of human concerns, such as sausage or profit
In its grasp for universality, this kind of code creates a mindless defense of its own particularity, where the deviant and the stranger are harshly discriminated against and punished. Where it reaches for universal solidarity and sisterhood, it creates boundaries and holy wars. Instead of setting us on a search for universal truth, it says it already has the Truth and installs the inquisition; it suppresses all other perspectives in zeal and missionary madness. And as it reaches for mercy and kindness in the name of the poor and wretched, it creates justifications for kings and bishops to rule us and fool us
If both you and I see the moons of Jupiter, then surely the moons of Jupiter are there? If only I see angels and hobgoblins, and none of you do, is it not safer to assume, that there are no angels and hobgoblins? This line of thinking leads us down the path of materialism, reductionism, positivism, determinism and scientism: There is a real reality “out there”, and by means of inter-subjectivity, by verification, by science and the scientific method (induction, deduction and abduction), we can go beyond the shackles of subjective illusion and see the real world for the first time.
Beyond our senses, our stories, feelings, thoughts and social conventions lies a grey, colorless world consisting only of meaningless stuff that blindly follows an unchangeable, mechanical logic set out by no-one and nothing at the dawn of the universe. The world of facts. Everything, including our consciousness, is a giant machine, consisting of particles or waves that collide and together create all of the phenomena we know: evolution, DNA, energy, entropy, atoms, symmetry, quanta, cosmology, spacetime—all bound within the same basic arithmetic
Scientific paradigm always assumes to be right
And how come, with these super-objective sciences, that the paradigms keep shifting every generation or so, depending on who wins the academic power struggles? You go from a Newtonian universe to Einstein’s universe, and now Einstein turned out to be wrong about quantum physics, and the universe really does do “spooky things at a distance” after all—and God plays a whole lot of quantum dice. Everyone is so sure of themselves, that they have the real reality, that they are being objective, but all the time they turn out to be wrong—their understanding again and again found to be more bound by their culture, their time and their own interests, than anybody had expected. Not so universal, after all, it is?
The world, my dear modernista, before it ever becomes “objective” science, is phenomenological. First and foremost, you only ever have your subjective experience of things-as-they-are, always in right-this-moment. And that’s the only “objective” reality you ever really get. And the phenomenological experience of reality is always bound by social constructions.
Modernism silences voices and opens the way to abuses
The way that you limit your perspective to “objective reality” means that all kinds of important aspects of reality get locked out. For instance, if only what is intersubjectively verifiable ever counts as universal, and therefore as real and important, what happens to all of those who cannot partake in the intersubjective discussion? Like the animals—or poorly educated people. You can’t ask the animals, but does that mean they don’t have subjective experience? Your perspective turns everything into one big “object” and it silences so many voices. This opens the way for abuses, as the world is turned into dead, cold resources under your mechanical, exploitative regime
All perspectives, including the modern
if all perspectives are to be included for us to be able to strive towards universal values, how come that the only perspective you pomos (postmodernists) seem to value is your own? Doesn’t the inclusion of all perspectives require the successful accommodation of those perspectives, including the modernism that you so vehemently oppose? You aren’t really taking the other perspectives seriously, if you don’t evaluate, compare and connect them—and give each perspective its due credit.
The Metamodern value meme is less judgmental; it seeks to integrate elements from all the former ones; it sees partial truths in all of them; it wants to integrate them in one grand synergistic scheme, and seeks to accommodate them—to create a society in which traditional, modern and postmodern people live together harmoniously. And in that vein, the Metamodern value meme is less ostensibly oriented towards a political Right or Left. People of other value memes, like the exploitative boards of major corporations, even folks like the fundamentalist terrorists, are not seen as evil. They are, to put it bluntly, developmentally challenged.
the metamodern mind also realizes that an inclusive and harmonious society cannot be achieved within the confines of modern life or by means of a postmodern critique thereof. Hence, a new society must be created from the modern one, which means that the metamodernist must ultimately be against modern society.
POSTMODERNISM hasn’t offered any real solution
where is the alternative you offer? For a while it was “democratic socialism”, but after 1989 we haven’t really seen any credible claims for it. Then it was “deep ecology”, but the world is industrializing and consuming and modernizing faster than ever. Then you came up with queer feminism and updated versions of radical feminism, which is nice, but nowhere is there any evidence that “breaking the hetero norm” and “crushing patriarchy” bring forth any true revolution, or lead to an otherwise fair society. Frankly, women have been more liberated by the pill and other advances of medicine, than by postmodern theory. And then you have been going on about neoliberalism, which you take to be an evil spirit that has possessed the world, but you have yet to produce any alternative beyond bureaucratic control. Occupy Wall Street didn’t offer more than a buzz. All of your projects have fallen to the ground, without any of them deeply changing society. There have been some shifts, yes, but we still live in what must be seen as a modern society: still capitalist, alienating, unequal and ecologically disastrous.
More Secular than Postmodern
The postmodern mind thinks that there is some kind of metaphysical evil called “power structures” and that you can remove this evil by invoking its opposite: emancipating critique, deconstruction, inclusion, more soft and relativist values and so forth. But that means you still believe in there being some evil “out there” and you being the “good guy”: No longer the bad intentions of others, but certainly a collective and sociological evil that must be destroyed. The Metamodern value meme doesn’t believe in anything like that. It sees that all of these things only emerge by necessity, as emergent properties of complex systems. It sees the world as more mechanical, and less good or evil—all things are explainable, and there are no evil patriarchy spirits or ghosts of colonialism past. These are illusions, just interpretations of effects of self-organizing systems. And the way to solve these problems is not by “crushing patriarchy”, but by genuinely understanding the ideas, perspectives and behaviors of all stakeholders, and by finding ways to develop them and otherwise affect their behaviors and interactions. More secular than the postmodern mind
EMphasis of Inner Dimensions
The second characteristic is that they value inner dimensions much more. So you will find that people of this value meme seek to create more authenticity and intimacy in work organization, to democratize institutions with clever social innovations, to promulgate mindfulness and meditation practices, to emphasize more philosophical and existential issues in their work. They will tend to be very process-oriented, trying to involve people in interactive processes a lot more.
Idea of Dividual
The self is a “dividual”, as described by Deleuze, a transpersonal self. I am not the voice in my head, I am all that arises; you create me as I create you, we are not sealed containers, we are often more transparent to one another and controlled by one another than we are to/by ourselves. We co-emerge, we are just bodies and fictional stories; consciousness is transformable and all stories can be developed
- Horrific (phenomenological reality breaks down)
- Tormented Medium states:
- Very uneasy
- Uneasy, uncomfortable
- Somewhat uneasy, “okay”, full of small faults
- Satisfied, well
- Good, lively
- Joyous, full of light, invigorated High states:
- Vast, grand, open
- Blissful, saintly
- Enlightened, spiritual unity (Scale of subjective states)
Organisms don’t really seek or avoid certain emotions, but they seek to raise the level of their subjective state and avoid low states
All States Have Equal Ontological Status
The conventional way of seeing such exceptional states is to give them lower ontological status (that they are seen as “less real” than the reality of everyday life). Everyday life is taken to be the “really real” reality, and all else to be dreams, hallucinations or fantasies. What this view tends to miss is that mental life is never a “correct representation” of some objective reality. So giving an “ontological premium” to medium states at the expense of the lower states and the higher ones just doesn’t make sense.
We see and recognize different aspects of reality depending on which subjective state we are in. Thus we should avoid the conventional view—which downplays the role of all subjective states other than what is taken to be everyday life “normality”
State Makes Value Memes Light or Dark
Light vs Dark Pomos
Light pomos are more like hippies: They like environmentalism, self-development, organic food, community, Taoism and the like. And they don’t like academic stuff very much or cynical theories about the world. Dark pomos are more like academics, anarchists, critical sociologists, literary critics, queer theorists and neo-Marxists. They like theories, criticism and finding new ways to expose the injustices and madness of the modern condition. They despise the stupid and naive light pomos, who they feel are inauthentic, hysterical cop-outs. The dark pomos take plenty of anti-depressants.
Problems with Spiritual Communities
[[ Community ]]
In spiritual communities, social pressure arises to present oneself as being in as high states as possible (both by personal prestige and because people want to hear that you are doing well in order to validate the spiritual enterprise as a whole). So people begin to subtly lie to themselves and to one another about how lightly and profoundly they experience the world at any given moment. Ever noticed that strange hysterical happiness that sect people display? That’s what I’m talking about: They insist upon displaying behaviors that indicate high inner states; hence that strange stare. This applies not least to the guru: If he or she is in a bad mood, the students will still interpret them as acting from a very high state. So there is a social-psychological “spin” on the whole thing, making people pretend to be something they’re not. This becomes a closely guarded, dirty secret for almost everyone and people are likely to react quite aggressively whenever it risks surfacing. This is a central reason for why they turn so oppressive and aggressive when the image of harmony is challenged by all the conflicts and issues that necessarily show up in any community.
even if your guru really does frequent high subjective states; he or she can still be low MHC stage, work from defunct cultural codes, and have all manner of psychological issues and problems.
Depth (Beauty, Tragedy, Mystery)
Recognizing the beauty of reality is not only a “matter of opinion”—it is a faculty, a capability. Seeing beauty somehow strangely seems to be the correct way of seeing. It means to gaze deeper into reality. (ways of looking)
The Use of Tragedy
Depth is developed by the recognition of tragedy, by the successful acceptance of such tragedy, and by the resolve to work, as Sisyphus eternally lugging rocks, against it. Resolve in the face of a fundamental hopelessness and utter meaninglessness. This is depth-as-tragedy.
Tragedy is necessary for us to mature beyond our current, limited form of “humanity” and begin to take responsibility for all sentient beings in all times. Only a sense of tragedy can drive us to work for the wretched of the earth: loving until it hurts; as medieval nuns of contemplative Christianity, licking the wounds of lepers. And for this reason—I can say with perfect conviction—that only broken hearts can save the world. [[ Meditation and system change ]]
Society Makes Us Pretend to Be Lower Depth
In mainstream society, we generally pretend to have less depth than we really do. As a society, we have not admitted to ourselves just how utterly vulnerable, how beautiful and pathetically tragic we are—and in our loneliness we tend to flatter ourselves with unwarranted beliefs of how uniquely profound we are as “individuals”, just how different we are from “most other people” (but we’re not). A crucial aspect of the maturation of humanity is that we not only begin to actively and deliberately cultivate depth in all three aspects (beauty, mystery and tragedy) as well as depth in both its light and dark form—but also that we create institutions and social settings in everyday life that are much more proficient when it comes to accommodating our inner depths
Sense and Soul
Ideally speaking, the metamodern mind marries sense and soul—avoiding both magic beliefs and reductionism. Of course, that is what everybody will say, a cliché anybody can agree to. But it is easier said than done. The world strives for an always-impossible balance
Dangers of Magical Thinking
If there is magic in the world, anyone who you believe has more contact with this magic than you do, gains arbitrary power over you. You surrender your own mental faculties to them, and from there on, very bad things can and will happen. It is the royal road to totalitarianism. Also, all magic beliefs make you waste time and energy doing things that simply don’t work
State as a possible priority
But if I had to choose one, I would go with state. We need to, above all, improve the subjective states of all humans. It is the only dimension that is ethically unproblematic to wish for people. If we want to make them “more complex” or the like, it implies we want to change them to suit the needs and demands of others. But higher state just means we wish each other well. And it is more volatile; hence easier to affect. A happier world is probably a saner world. It should be possible, I believe, to let high states and loving embraces of life encompass many more of us, more of the time.
Here are all the notes in this garden, along with their links, visualized as a graph.