Reality by convention

The current philosophical definition of art that I commented on in the last entry, that it’s whatever is presented as such within the “artworld,” put me in mind of a comment Steve Sailer made a few days ago, that he’s “increasingly fascinated by how unrebellious, how credulously trusting of authority the post-1960s generations have turned out to be.”

Both cases are the result of ’60s liberation: if everything is completely free, so God is dead, then there’s no authority to appeal to that’s higher than social convention.

The result is that we all become slaves to convention. There’s nothing else. We can sit by ourselves in our room somewhere and do our own thing, but if we want to engage other people—if we want to get a job or make friends or make ourselves understood when we speak a human language—we have to accept whatever views are socially dominant. Reality is socially constructed, so there’s nothing beyond them to appeal to. At least that’s true if the dominant views claim to be based on the concept of freedom: that is, if they claim to be liberal.

I suppose you could point to other influences. The ’60s generation was the first TV generation, and now we’ve got the Internet, which is TV on steroids. Both fragment the world into myriad images or screenshots and put all the fragments on the same footing, so that significance and reality disappear or become a matter of choice, arrangement, and packaging. As before, social cooperation depends on the dominant system of packaging, and there’s no authority higher than the system itself to appeal to.

4 thoughts on “Reality by convention”

  1. Perhaps this is why the
    Perhaps this is why the entertainment industry feels the need to endlessly rehash yesterday’s battles, esp. those of the 1960s, still repeating such themes, in such settings, in movies, over and over, ad nauseam. They no longer can define themselves in terms of what they are for; all they know is what they’re against.

  2. Ironic conformism.
    You refer to Steve Sailer’s comment that he’s “increasingly fascinated by how unrebellious, how credulously trusting of authority the post-1960s generations have turned out to be.” This irony has been observed by others.

    For example, in his discussion of the so-called ‘liberated’ and questioning ethos of the post-1960s generation, Allan Bloom says: “The intellectual picture projected is precisely the opposite of the truth. The sixties were a period of dogmatic answers and trivial tracts. Not a single book of lasting importance was produced in or around the movement. This was when the real conformism hit the universities, and opinions about everything from God to the movies became absolutely predictable.” *

    * The Closing of the American Mind: page 322.

    • It’s all very odd
      I once spent some time thinking about Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in a way I suppose was a forerunner of the hippies and everything else that’s ever happened in America. Unreserved openness to the new, and to the inner infinity of all things, sounds bold and adventurous. It means though that you can never say anything that matters and you end up cheerleading for whatever is going on anyway.

      • Maybe the Baby-boomers are
        Maybe the Baby-boomers are just preparing to mass euthanize? It will be like the last entry on the “to do” list equivalent to running to the grocery for some milk.


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