Much of the mediocrity of spirit that composes our post modern epoch is related to the state of "Consensus" that is so highly valued. Public policy, the media, the Arts, the so-called facebook and twitter revolutions are nothing short of approval and validation systems that constantly seek the lame approval of the bland invisible abstract other in terms other users, anonymous comments, focus groups, scientific surveys of ordinary opinions, the expert opinions of the critics in reviews and panel shows on books and other artistic enterprises. This system is indeed powerful. It's true power resides in the fact that it's invisible and difficult to centrally locate in any known nexus that allows rational scrutiny to bring the light that separates the true from the false, the valuable from the superfluous, the significant from the trivial, that allows even a partial fragmentation of the consensus to occur. The system is so uncannily composed that its impossible through the sheer volume of abstract comments and opinions that are part of the public sphere, and by the misplaced egalitarian internet dictate that says all opinions should be valued and respected equally that have allow the average human mind to stagnate into a state of complete conformity and mediocrity over the last 20 years in particular that's essentially numbed the creative sinews of most developed societies. It shouldn't be a surprise that this generation of under 40s must be the most passive, lame and consensus driven generation that's been produced for a very long time. Unlike previous generations who could see the the system in terms of a centralized institution that was visibly bad, like Nixon's Whitehouse, this generation cannot see what's bad, because what is bad and rotten, is so well disguised in the consensus mentality that trades in a multitude of abstract anonymous opinions that are of course the hallmark of of our democracy, where we're all encouraged to join in.
Opinions as even Plato knew are anathema to the thinking, creative soul. What might the solution be to regaining what has been eroded over the last 20 years could amount to some of the following rules I've drawn up:-
- Read a proper book every day for at least 30 minutes.
- Write, paint, compose, something, no matter how small each week.
- Use the Internet in a non-responsive and directed way (no idle surfing)
- Disconnect from Twitter and other news/social blog sites.
- Get out of your own environment at least 4 times a year.
- Visit a non English speaking country as often as you can.
- Get out into the hills and deserts every so often.
- Act on natural impulses "to go" until its second nature.
- Really talk to people who you meet casually in a gas station or a train.
- Don't be in awe of young people just because they are young.
- Go to seedy places on whims, you can meet gems in such domains.
- Care for an animal, even a frog will do.
- Say something shocking to people you know really well.
- Really study the structure of fine things, like a musical composition.
- Treat with hilarious scour the media and the rest of the circus.
- Be thankful and show real gratitude each day.
- Prepare and reflect on one's own departure with maturity and grace.
- Learn to love members of your own sex in a sensuous but non -sexual way.
- Sleep on a beach when you can.
I could say more....but....the clipper is on his way down the carriage.