DYSTOPIAN NAIVETY OF METAMODERN CULTURE


The Metamodern. Through the Dystopian Looking Glass.

“After fifty years of waiting for “Peace Through Understanding” and all the casual innuendos about WWIII and what we’ll be doing when it comes, we are so far removed from it all, we’ve barely started to realize that the standard dystopian models have already hit the fan.”

THROUGH THE DYSTOPIAN LOOKING GLASS

By Dameon Rush
Image (above) Jeff Koons, Art Car design for BMW (2010)

When I was seven years old I went to the 1964 New York World’s Fair with my family. The things I saw helped to shape my expectations of an exciting metamodern world to come. The leaders of industry and technology were represented by General Electric, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, I.B.M., Bell Telephone, U.S. Steel, Pepsi Cola, DuPont, RCA and Westinghouse. After being exposed to so many alternatives and possibilities for the future, I had never come to expect the dystopian social patterns that were soon to follow.

The theme of the fair was “Peace Through Understanding”. We were mesmerized by how far the human race had evolved technologically in only thirty years and how far it was projected to go in the next thirty. Computers, touch-tone phones and Teflon. We saw exhibits with houses under the sea and we road around the fair on elevated monorails.

One of the most exciting and inspiring exhibits was Michelangelo’s Pieta. We stood on a huge moving walkway that slowly circled the piece. It was pure white perfection against a Prussian blue void. And then in 1972 Laszlo Toth smashed her face in with a sledge hammer.

Our metamodern digital libraries are packed with the writings of countless science fiction visionaries and philosophers. They predict many variations of a dystopian society. Mankind must have learned by now that whatever can be visualized can be achieved eventually, if it’s worth having to begin with. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say, fifty years later and boy, I am thoroughly disappointed and disillusioned with the results. “Peace Through Understanding”, my ass.

As I was being groomed for assimilation into the metamodern continuum of dystopian negligence, I was never quite comfortable with what was going on. Things just didn’t seem quite “right”. At an early age I couldn’t understand the dog eat dog behavioral systems in our society. I always assumed it was supposed to be another way. And as I grew to experience more double standards and hypocrisy, I became very observant of the dystopian future to come.

Life can be studied through various philosophical principles, geopolitical and economic strategies and a multitude of abstractions in reasoning. Or you can live it. In life you will observe the teachings and critiques of the great minds of civilization. Academia quantifies experience through reflection and peer-reviewed literature. It identifies it and defines it. We triangulate and draw the best observations on societal influences from any philosophy that our educations expose us to. Therein lies an important glitch in the system.

“The last thing a fish would ever notice would be the water around it.”
Ralph Linton

We teeter on the fence between apathy and entropy; two forces which can lead any society toward a dystopian path. As we go; making sure we are very politically correct in public when we talk about corruption, the economy and social dysfunction. We have been taught to shop with passion and precision and look after number one; good to a definite degree, but when it comes to any prolonged or collective effort for social consciousness raising, the system has its dulling agents in place.

As an economic principle, Capitalism defines a culture whose sustainability depends primarily on capital as the prime mover: the accumulation of capital, wealth and debt. The principles of Socialism lie not in the focus of capital as the prime mover, but in how society becomes the prime mover with capital or resources being the tools for a sustainable culture.

Disparity leads to dystopia as one side of town develops while the inner city crumbles. The disparity gap widens and so does resentment through political action and inaction. We’ve become a well-trained society of “Chicken Littles” programmed to throw ourselves to the floor kicking and screaming at any superfluous soundbite that’s tossed our way. We are made aware of what they want us to be aware of. Anything beyond that takes effort and effort cannot be wasted on anything but capital and how we manage our debt.

Meanwhile, as we quibble about same sex marriages and which team of gladiators went to the Coliseum for the final mock bloodletting; we are easily distracted from the dystopian signals already rising from the colliding vortexes of social apathy and cultural entropy.

We’ve had numerous opportunities to create a quality of life that enables our metamodern society to take some time, to enjoy life and smell the roses. But as Americans, we’ve managed to plunge ourselves headlong into a path of sustainable economic and social destruction. Unfortunately too few in the world by comparison have the luxury of being able to afford the quality time to smell those roses; while in contrast, too many Americans fail to realize that it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee instead.

“Vitally Lost” (2013). Digital manipulation and video by Michael Van Dyke from “Lost City”

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