Sunday, December 5, 2021
I will now be wrapping up this blog, as I've pretty much said everything I wanted to say. Even when I first started blogging with the "Decades" blogs all those years ago I was kind of aware that the mass culture and mass politics of the 20th Century was at an end, and that popular culture was already a historical phenomenon rather than a contemporary one. This suspicion has only been further confirmed in recent years, and has accordingly increased the feeling I have that the kind of socio-cultural and socio-political writing undertaken in this corner of the blogosphere is pretty much redundant. So just to set out the main points of this blog for the last time: 1. The expansive era of technological and social progress, together with its darker aspects, that dominated the 20th Century, and which I've termed the Plutonian era, is at an end, and the 21st Century will be very different. 2. The last two millenia of hierarchical social organisation and universalist religion and ideology are also at an end, and we are in the early stages of another two millenia which will revolve around eccentric individualism and loosely aggregated non-hierarchical structures (i.e. the transition from Pisces to Aquarius). 3. The next three to four years are going to be particularly chaotic, more so than the last six to ten years, as this transition intensifies and the future in general is going to be considerably different to anything anyone can currently anticipate. I'll see you on the other side!
Friday, November 19, 2021
I note in passing the death of Mick Rock and the not guilty verdict in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, and point you to the factor that unites them, which is the declining strength of the post-war liberal progressive egregor. As I outlined in an earlier post, as a generation dies off, so does its cultural influence and worldview, thus allowing new and unfamiliar worlds to emerge. Mick Rock's passing represents a grevious diminution of the egregor that blossomed in the Sixties and flourished up until the early 21st Century, as he was such a fertile generator and conductor of that generation's images. And images as much as music were the central mode of transmission for the progressive worldview. Rittenhouse's acquittal is an example of the real world consequences of this trend, as the combined efforts of the broadcast media, liberal press and civil rights organisations to secure his conviction have spectacularly failed. These institutions are losing their ability to create unstoppable media bandwagons that can generate the momentum to achieve their desired political goals. This weakening will accelerate as the cohort who created the mainstream legacy media continues to die off. So the future of progressivism for at least the medium term will largely consist of the mourning of the loss of iconic individuals and flinching in horror at the sinister political forms emerging in the void they leave. Anyway, here's some Bowie:
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Baz, Neil and Kenny are Real Ale fans from Doncaster who are filling in time until the next Beer Festival. Neil will always ask the duty manager to put the horse racing on, although Baz and Kenny prefer the snooker, or BBC News 24:
Saturday, August 28, 2021
This blog has become very focused on astrology of late, which is not what I intended when I started it, but it's always a surprise which direction your own thought will take you. Now I should stress that astrology is of value to me not for its alleged ability to forecast the future (which is itself unfalsifiable) but in the archetypes it provides to model and shape reality. Once you understand these archetypes you begin to see them everywhere, and it is of course the archetype of Pluto that is the most indicative of post-war popular culture. Solid Gold was Gang of Four's masterpiece album, and its power, as with all the most resonant post-punk LP's, is in its Plutonianism, in its depiction of individuals being internally torn apart under the external pressure of social and economic forces. The tracks on the album are not so much songs as case studies, switching between objective descriptions of the drama unfolding (usually narrated by Andy GIll) and agonised subjective expressions of the resulting inner turmoil (sung by Jon King). Paralysed opens the record by recounting that most characteristic of early eighties experiences, redundancy, and the disorientating malaise of suddenly being deprived of a meaningful social role. Note how the music churns away in the background, like the march of progress, indifferent to the souls who are chewed up by the impersonal forces of history. Why Theory? depicts banal domestic routines under the perpetual Sword of Damocles of the Cold War, and the underlying psychological disturbance that such a contrast must provoke. Once again, the crushing mass of the music, like bulldozers colliding underwater, summons the enormity of the forces involved, always just out of the view of protagonists within the song. "Distant thunder from the East/Won't disturb our morning car wash". A Hole In The Wallet reflects the contemporary battle between the fading force (at least at this time) of patriarchy, and its substitution not with feminism, but with econometrics, as interpersonal relations become increasingly focused on money conflicts. Here we see the disinterested power of capitalism not just fracturing the individual, but also partnerships, as both men and women become calculating machines, perpetually totting up the costs and benefits of human interaction. He'd Send In The Army is the album's finale, mainly vocalised by bassist Dave Allen, and is a merciless portrayal of patriarchy as a lingering sociopathology. This is the band at their blackest, heaviest and most Plutonian, the song structure positively creaking under the gravitational mass of that dark, alien planet. Also characteristically Plutonian is the sense of there being no relief or transcendence in the experience, that it must simply be endured, as though existence itself is a perpetual prison. In the archetype of Pluto the only way out is through...to the next Plutonian struggle. Bonus vid: they could also do it live:
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
In considering examples of how the Age of Aquarius is increasingly entrenching itself, the esoteric archaeologist Graham Hancock is a good place to start. He is a classic example of a disruptive individual who is pitched against a complacent Piscean hierarchy, as he himself delineates in the above podcast with good old Joe Rogan, himself an intensely Aquarian figure. Hancock is disruptive because he has, over several decades and numerous best-selling books, articulated a compelling narrative of human society, in which he posits that the first technologically sophisticated civilisation existed over ten thousand years ago in South and Central America, and that this was prematurely destroyed by the debris from a passing comet. As such, pace Hancock, the cradle of civilisation as we know it was not in Mesopotamia, but in the Americas, and the civilisations of the Middle East were seeded by the survivors of the prior American ur-civilisation, who had scattered themselves around the world with what little they could salvage from their ruined cities. Hancock cites various similarities between indigenous American and Middle Eastern artifacts to bolster his case that these were not separate civilisations, but merely temporally divergent manifestations of the same civilisation. However, the established archaeological paradigm is that human civilisation in the Americas cannot be older than 2500 years, and Hancock alleges that instead of the archaeological profession being open to refutation on this point, it instead tends to marginalise anybody who contradicts it. As such, despite being in publishing terms a raging success, he is in professional terms something of a persona non grata. His Wikipedia biography accuses him of being a proponent of "pseudohistory" and "pseudoarcheology", the prefix pseudo being one of the classic signifiers by which rationalist-atheist "sceptics" stigmatise anybody they consider beyond the pale. For anyone outside the hot and sexy world of archaeology, this kind of labelling might seem a bit infantile, but is Hancock really deceitful? In the interview with Rogan he appears to be sane, rational and engaging, and if he is a liar then he must be an amazing one because he keeps it up fluently without contradicting himself for almost three hours. A similar objection pertains to any assertion that he is simply delusional, because if he is so he displays remarkable internal consistency in his delusions. It could be argued that he has followed his line of argument purely because it is highly lucrative, but a counter to that would be that he started his career as a respectable establishment insider (he is a former journalist with The Economist), so there can be little doubt that he could have easily become extremely wealthy without compromising his respectability. Now he might just be wrong, and in fairness some of his speculations, such as that the giant stone roofs of the chambers within the Egyptian pyramids were lifted into place by telekinesis, are too much even for someone as woowoo-friendly as me. Hancock's plight is similar to that of the evolutionary biologist Rupert Sheldrake, who has spent similar decades touting his theory of morphic resonance to the indifference or even antipathy of his more mainstream colleagues. Like Sheldrake, Hancock harks to Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and its theory that science advances by paradigm shifts, as once-dominant theories increasingly fail to explain new evidence or data. They also invoke Max Planck's aphorism that "science progresses one funeral at a time" as doughty defenders of the status quo yield to new ideas by cocking their toes. In fact, both men are holding onto false hopes in these notions, as they misunderstand their real historical role, and why it is so disruptive. The Aquarian ideas that they proffer are dangerous not because they might upend existing paradigms, but because they undermine the Piscean hierarchies that govern their respective fields. Hancock is subversive because he recognises that only a tiny fraction of the record of human habitation on the planet has so far been exhumed, so that our understanding of human history is liable to become repeatedly overturned every time a virgin area of the planet is excavated. In turn, this will convert archaeology from being a sober, orderly, structured discipline into a wild world of constant turmoil, in which no hierarchy of expertise can be steadily maintained. However, unbeknown to themselves, his Piscean foes can only be defeated by him, as he embodies the Aquarian forces that will come to dominate not just their world, but our own too.
Saturday, August 7, 2021
There was no greater metaphor for the Plutonian experience than the conflict in Northern Ireland in the late 20th Century. Its grim aesthetic perfectly evoked the two sides of Pluto, both schizoidal internal conflict and external oppression.