Sunday, January 1, 2017

By Context: the Evils of Antitime

Do things really make us think things? Maybe most of us are just too embarrassed to admit we've been thinking.


In some way, we were all assaulted by Cronus through agricultural necessity: sow, tend, reap, wait. We might throw vast amounts of wealth into an ironically hypocritical material expression of immaterialism, e.g., a pyramid, and we might live our beliefs directly, dividing and subdividing each day into chronocontextual buoys, permitting us to express thought with less fear of recrimination. If we feel impassioned, we can blame our thoughts on the local deity, the ikon, or that most perennial of modern holidays, Sunday, set aside for reflection.

Cultural compression makes for omnipresent holidays of even greater power than before. Replacing solar years or lunar cycles with various Roman calendars imposes increased timekeeping requirements on the cattle, more profound than the clock in the substitution of visual conformance for ideatic--requiring the mental recollection of days, and 0.25s in Februarys, rather than the sky's freebie recollection of Time As It Is, perfect annual Terran time. Like substituting cover charges at a bar for a chaperoned village dance, the Semitic-Roman calendars created the time crisis of the age of prisons. The mechanical clock does the same, but its importance is overestimated by chronologians, who blame the social disruptions caused by banking on the improved technology of timekeeping. A sane village already had its constant clock in the form of knowledge of the sun; the hellish stress of punching a timecard and making a vital deadline was brought by willful bankers, not objective technology. The holidays, the conformance, became legalistic, mandatory creatures, with a crippled orc spawning each Sunday and demanding weekly coin for its magesire.

If Yule is gang-raped into Christmas, and Solstice to Easter, there is seemingly no change, yet if Christmas is followed by its sleazy friends from the bus station, as it inevitably must be--Hanukkah and Kwanzaa--the former logos becomes a mystical triumvirate, and the collection becomes, like Jury Duty, a mandatory use of your mental space.

The constancy of holidays in the banking territories has achieved a mission creep oft lamented among storegoers, namely the intrusion of Misters Claus and Chronos into pilgrim territory, and, in turn, that of Mister Valentine and Reverend Doctor King, Jr., into the new year. The profusion of "important times" has reproduced itself not merely into days, but into months, with historical months, historical days, war days, ethnic months, and so forth, merging with the schedules of government and entertainment media to produce an endless succession of holidays. Harvest and All Souls have become, in much of the western world, a miasmatic blend of not only Colonel Candy, Pumpkin Puritan, and Indigenous Indian, but requisite historical and ethnic days and months, blended with television seasons, elections and other moments of civic virtue, NFL kickoffs, dorm weeks and rush weeks, et cetera. Content is localized and targeted, creating the semi-hilarious hells of buying advisories for mail-openers and internet-users, and the egregious corporate self-plumbing of businesspersons, but the regional and national reach of time is itself sufficient to make the point. This was old news decades and decades ago, but now, so many people have been celebritized for doing so very little that there's always a celebrity fiasco, preferably a death, to serve as a stand-in holiday when a day has otherwise managed, on its own, to be significant in merely two or three ways. The investments made by the bank in fluffing awareness of public personae generations ago have produced increasing levels of market awareness of products even less relevant than the irrelevance they held earlier. Culturo-memetically, it's always time to buy.

Mediating Thought

People developing along this path have become time-focused in a way similar to how they've fabricated their own nauseatic personae through which to interact with a world they see as only interested in nauseatic personae. We've discussed how people have begun responding to large-scale tragedies not as feeling humans, but as how they envision media personalities, e.g. typing "My heart goes out to all those affected by ______", and people now do that with holidays also. Acting like the actors they see on TV, typing like the actors they read on the internet, people express themselves as aspects of the greater media whole.

It happens with holidays, too. People provide each other good wishes for holidays using speech patterns bought from the media machine: anodyne "Wonderful wishes to everyone for a pleasant new year," like something you'd read off a national corporation's website. Savvier commentators may mention being at a local event, in the way that a prominent local realtor updates her or his website, but--like the replacement of a Harvest turkey with some vlogger's "seasonal snack platters," a forest clan's Yuletide with a universalist Christmas, or of store-purchased Christmas gifts with handmade--the amount of meaning in the act has gone down. Ritual has replaced reality. It has long been the case that a celebrity domestic violence or public nudity incident garners more attention than a street battle with two deaths in Philadelphia; it then became the case that this same inverse, robotic sensationalism is reproduced by ordinary people--people not being paid to generate banality, but who do it because they desperately need approval for doing it--who have learned that they get more support for being a media personality than they do for being themselves. People speak to their closest friends and family in the dialect of a corporate moderator.

Youth enters the equation here, too, in that the system has become so pervasive that even defiant youth have learned the subtle lesson that defiance doesn't sell--at least, defiance not covered by the media. Anecdotally, most of the vibrant youfs on my Facebook page have stopped swearing or expressing anger; instead, their "heart go out" to everyone on this "momentus occasion" of "this New year" (sic, sic, sic). And when some older celebrity dies, even one they've never heard of and would hideously mock if forced to sit through the person's product, they offer global condolences more saccharine than those of a preprinted birthday card you buy your grandkids at the drugstore. It is a combination of Jerry Falwell's and Steven Hirsch's dreams, where the young become docile, uncreative, and cyclically provocative all at once. The media has managed to wed respectably interviewing respectable porn-stars with getting otherwise "fuck all y'all" populations to type carefully composed messages of sympathy to people who survived that minor bridge collapse in Nebraska--if a celebrity didn't die within the past twelve hours.

Marking Time

What of we ourselves? The profusion of holidays--of important events, discretely chronological, and with a purely ideological relationship to the sun or the stars or the physical world--has convinced many of us to tie our own developments to the ideological timekeeping of the banking world. Forget about all of the simplistic, banal social critique offered above, and focus on yourself, and ask yourself whether your own moments of development or insight are inspired by any given chronological hallmark in the outer world, or if you merely feel the need to tie such developments to such hallmarks as a defense mechanism.

This merits mention because a longer-standing component of banker occupation has been our refusal to develop mentally without correlating said development to issues of (supposedly) larger significance. The terror of Chronos is longstanding. A horde of fools suddenly remembering someone's art, which they otherwise wouldn't have given a single thought to in twenty years, is only a more blatant expression of the ways in which we've all lost some of ourselves to antitime.

Imagine growing up in a time and place free from the holidays. There are holidays, and festivals, and dances and feasts, but without the idea of a cruel, transcendental calendar, you are free from the need to link yourself to any given mini-epoch. Death is a constant, but there are no celebrity deaths; they are all actually personal. And there are fewer of everything. Fewer feasts, fewer grand remembrances, fewer dead poobahs. The ones that come actually mean something; they stir the aether. And if you still feel that about some modernized event, then imagine a signal like that one, but without all the surrounding distortion.

Without all of those events to shield you, when you make a personal development, you have nothing to blame it on. Nothing to free yourself from the terrifying responsibility. If you suddenly figure something out--if you solve a problem, make a serious resolution, or realize your personality has crept up on you and changed itself at an indefinable point over the past whenever--it's all on you. You are free, terribly free, of the need or the desire to say, "Uhh, when I heard Brock Celeb died, it really made me think, I haven't seen Brock's Back II, in a while, and that was such a good movie, and, and my heart really goes out to the Celeb family..." Instead, you can think about it in a more pure way. You can just sit alone with your thoughts, and reflect, "You know, Brock's Back II was actually a pretty good movie. It affected me in a significant way, and if I hadn't seen Brock stand up to that dude in the beach house, I might've never developed the strain of thought that led me to raise my hand in that one meeting, and..." et cetera.

Without a dying celebrity or a bridge collapse, we're forced to mark time in different ways. Is our hair falling out? Has something been wrong with the crops for the past few harvests? Is that smoke from the south getting closer?

Thinking those thoughts, and ascribing them to yourself, is important. A great deal of what antitime expresses by inundating time with hypertime, and thereby weakening it, is distending time toward its weakening, so that when it dissolves, it can be compressed into a single moment of non-time, in which all things are known and forgotten, and time ceases. If you don't like this one's pseudoscience crap, try a more mundane, "The profusion of notable events helps us treat time itself as less important, causing us to deny our own agency in changing things throughout time." We have learned, throughout this process, that it is dangerous to claim ownership of our own mental development, ergo we like to claim that "something" made us think. We can name and cite that something, sort of like deadening our lives by writing them in the passive voice: "Valentine's Day made me realize I'm lonely," or "My birthday made me realize I'm getting older," or "When my brother died, I knew I had to make a change."

We blame the season for the reason, like we blame drugs or conditions for assholery. Something about the media we employ for communication has given us a cheap out from ourselves. We're corporations trying to externalize costs, dieters trying to rationalize binges, using religions or breakups or pride months to make it acceptable for us to adjust what we perceive as our perspectives on being here.

Do things really make us think things? Maybe most of us are just too embarrassed to admit we've been thinking.

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