If a person had traveled forward in time, arriving from even the recent past, of say, twenty-five to thirty-years ago, and looked upon the present day United States -- he would have thought he had entered some alternative universe inhabited by deranged grotesques. Resembling a dadist reality television program, a sizable portion of the populace of the US (save our ugly, contemporary, sweatshop-assembled clothing) could pass for George Grosz or Max Beckmann caricatures from Weimar Republic Germany.
As is the case with individuals, every era is endowed with a distinct character, something near a personality, all its own. If that personality could, over time, gain a sense of self-awareness, our own would blush in embarrassment viewing Palin ... Preening, sputtering her word salad palaver, resembling an aging prom queen turned infomercial spokesmodel and speaking as though she acquired the english language from shredded scraps of speeches by Ronald Reagan and random bits of Bazooka Joe bubble gum comix, she is possessed of such an extreme degree of incomprehensible self-regard it seems a form of derangement.
In little danger of gaining self-awareness, Palin both characterizes and is a caricature of the era: obsession with power and celebrity, mindless memes, and the endless, contrived drama and meaningless denouement on display in the short attention span theatre of corporate and social media -- all its devices and collective derangement -- that are reactionary in the shunning of substance and the determination to remain devoid of the deepening implications of human interaction. Ergo, these traits and characteristics are reflected in Palin and vice versa, then back again, ad infinitum, like distortions in carnival funhouse mirrors.
Does one get the feeling that the more powerless we feel, collectively, about the rising levels of economic exploitation exacted upon us and the accelerating rate of ecocide committed on the planet by corporate oligarchs, the more celebrity "news" and other tropes of empty distraction and denial will froth forth from the idiot imaginings of the pop culture douche-scape?
For many years now, we have been witness to cultural fantasies(both of the religious and secular variety) of decline, decay, of even the end of civilization itself ... that are, perhaps, a collective wish for the taut bindings that modernity places on the psyche to be loosened. The modernist towers must fall; then our insular, nature-denuded mode of mind will be pulled down from its lofty precincts into the e'lan vital of primal dirt ... There, the sterility of the collective, corporatized mind will meet its end, and reborn passion and vital imaginings will bloom like wild flowers in a post-apocalyptic strip mall parking lot ... This is what, I suspect, lies beneath our fascination with apocalyptic scenarios. In these contemporary deluge myths, the hyper-commercialized and commodified psyche, befogged by its own convoluted libido, once destroyed, is now free to start life anew.
Concurrently, in the fundamentalist Christian imagination, narratives of consumerism and End Time Mythology interweave and meld, becoming a gospel of instant gratification and imminent destruction ... This is a religious cosmology resonating from a junk food paradigm: The Gospels of The Drive Thru Jesus; when The Rapture comes, our corporeal bodies will be cast aside like fast food wrappers.
But be warned, by eating of all that high caloric food, all of you Jesus-hungry Lard Asses of The Lord: If your clothes were to fall from you (as your prophecies claim) as you rise skyward, the sight of all your fat, sagging bodies, floating in air, will resemble anything but the dawning of eternal paradise -- instead the event will more likely resemble an endless tape loop of a porno video for fat fetishists shot in a zero gravity chamber.
The narrative of fundamentalist Christianity has become so encumbered with kitsch imagery that its followers hope for the destruction of the planet itself so that they can escape the soul-defying imprisonment of its creepy dogma.
Hence, the modernist conundrum is: how does one retain the depth and resonance of myth, without concretizing it into a pernicious, fundamentalist death cult? Judaism, Christianity, Islam -- the myths of the jealous, desert god -- present a problem, because they place the answer in heaven i.e., far away in a sterile paradise ... The gods of the earth have been cast-out as sinful. Hence, those religions become so obsessed with a fantasy of purity that earth-dwelling and subterranean drives and desires -- that were symbolized, for example, by the Greeks as the gods Hermes, Pan, and Hades -- appear to Christian believers as Satanic.
In other words, Christians, Jews and Muslims, with their gaze fixed on heaven, view their earthly, human half as demonic. Moreover, by becoming split-off from their human half, followers of monotheistic belief systems are prone to suffer all the ills they attribute to the devil. Satan does have a "wide stance" after all.
This is a view of the world devoid of nuance: it is a cosmology inhabited by angels of light or musky demons of darkness ... In the fantasy, there exists no Orpheus to fuse the two worlds in entrancing song ... no Hermes to guide the hero into the realm of keening and kvetching shades ... no Persephone -- her lips lacquered in pomegranate juice -- metaphorically ending the stasis of collective human childhood with the implications of all life's seasons.
In its monotheistic view of the world, these fundamentalist fantasies are comparable to logic-clutching, dry as dust, modernist narratives, because both perspectives are so confining, so stultifying to the heart and mind of an individual, that their adherents grow obsessed with fantasies of the world's demise as a way of escaping the confining nature of the belief system itself.
O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on't! ah fie! 'tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.
--Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 2.
There is an abiding bleakness present in the hidden half of the hyper-commercialized psyche -- a darkness visible; therein, one must gain a willingness to walk through, even pause, for a time in its stark and repellent landscape ... In order not to crackup, one must crack-wise ... to hang a hammock there, between death and the abyss. Apropos: in polar contrast to the froth, faux urgency, and con artist flattery of mass media imagery, one must be willing to accept the deepening effect of being powerless before the trajectory of history and the proliferation of human folly. Most of the time, there are no solutions, only revealing questions and clear-headed responses. For example: