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Tuesday 24 January 2012

On this Post-Post Modern Generation: Oscillation into Self-Organization and Out Again

One of my young readers and friends stated that his generation (he is 23) are not Marxists or communists, or capitalists, or socialists, or Post-Modernists, but Post-Post-Modernists. Now, as he is in another generation, that of the emerging youth, I need to think about this. He blatantly stated that his friends do not care about Lenin, or Gramsci, or Obama, even though many of them voted the present president into office. My young friend claims that some of the same youth who voted in POTUS are now Ron Paul libertarians. If he is correct, then his assessment that his generation is made up of Post-Post-Moderns, (from now on called PPMs) is also correct. Why?

The PPMs are seen as a group with an "oscillating" or "moving polar philosophy" which goes between extremes of individualism (games) and group sectarianism (fanatic religions), anarchy (Occupy Rome) and totalitarianism (global markets and global economy buffs), relativism and orthodoxy (obvious), cynicism and sincerity or idealism ( The Daily Show and  EWTN ) and so on. His labeling seems to be spot-on when one examines these young people as individuals and as a group, which is hard, as the hegemony of the culture is gone and there are less and less real groups. Groupings tend to be based on small, very small, precious or keen interests, such as anime groups, animal rights groups, pro-life groups, anti-war groups, and so on. There is not necessarily any overlap of morals, ethics, world-view, religions, or philosophies in these groups. Individuals come together to form these groups for a time and five years is considered a long time. (Youth always thinks five years is a long time). They oscillate until they create self-organization, like the above nano-particles. And, like these particles, their organization may be based on reactions only, and not rational discourse, or even passionate emotions. I have seen this type of behavior in the college classroom, where reactive groups form quickly and dissipate as quickly. Young ones reacting against something rarely have a solid sense of who they are, either as individuals or as a group.

I think my friend is onto something. The PPMs are fluid for exactly the same reason my generation was not. How we were and how they were raised in the home created these mind-sets and ways of life. We were strongly conservative or liberal, country western or classical, Catholic or Lutheran, democrats or monarchists, Marxists or Catholics and so on. We chose to be (we were Pre-Post-Moderns) something, even if it was opposite our parents.

However, the differences between oscillation and surety lies in these facts. Number one, we did not believe in the Decline of the West-we loved the West. We were optimists as youths. Two, we were not relativists, nor subjectivists, but strove for objectivity and the rational. Three, we did not trust our emotions. Four, we belonged to stable groups, such as large families, parishes with continuity in the Mass, schools with Classical Education, and a pride in all of that. Five, we knew who we were. We had a core of being based on our training and discipline in the home. We did not have to totally invent ourselves. Our moms and dads loved us and we knew it, but we had to prove ourselves. We had to measure up and succeed.

The PPMs have to invent themselves. They have not had the core of being created for them and with them in the family or parish or school. They lack a framework for judging between good and evil, good taste and bad taste, the beautiful and the ugly, the true and the false, and so on. So, they vacillate, they oscillate in ideas and taste, like a little boat on the sea skimming the waves in order to find the berth which will give a comfort zone.

I once thought America, and maybe Europe, would see civil wars. Now, I doubt it. PPMs could not support one side for long. But, then, I think not all this generation of  PPMs are PPMs. How do we know if they keep changing? To be continued....
Disclaimer: I do not have a television. I have never seen CC. My PPM friends do and have.

Congratulations to Father Cassian of Norcia

Inside the Vatican has chosen Fr. Cassian Folsom of Norcia as one of the "Ten Persons of the Year". Congratulations. Here is the good news. Of course, these monks celebrate the Tridentine Mass of the ages.

The pursuit of the virtual replaces the pursuit of virtue

I know that I am going to make a lot of people angry or at least, irritated, with this post. However, with a following membership of 10 million people worldwide, it is time to look at World of Warcraft as a cult and not merely an online game. I have read the manual and looked at the game in order to understand the attraction it holds for many people and not merely the young. I am not going to emphasize lurid stories of marriage breakups, deaths, etc. regarding WoW, but only look at some of the characteristics of a cult with regard to this game.

First, I am admitting that I am changing the accepted definition of cult from the outset, as a cult usually is started by one charismatic figure, as already noted on this blog. However, the charism of the originators can be seen in the eclectic appeal and the use of many threads of myth and the occult, as well as violence and intrigue. Those inventors of the game obviously used popular modes of entertainment and popular literature in the genre of fantasy to create a complicated and appealing game.
Like a good German philosopher, I am provoking new definitions of cult.
I do not doubt the genius of the writers and artists, the logicians and who else were involved in the creation of WoW. I am questioning the power of the appeal and how it falls into the category of a cult.
Second, having thrown out the initial part of the definition, I move to the second part, which indicates that a cult has a religious basis. Reading the manual, it was clear to me that such things as spells were to be used and taken seriously in the game. Much of the game involves characters who are wizards or even necromancers. Already, a Catholic would have a "huh?" moment of enlightenment knowing that some of the characters fall in to the tried and true characterizations of damned behavior. Parallels are made with LOTR or even The Hobbit, but in those books and subsequent games, the powers of evil and good are clearly defined, and there is no such thing as good being confused with bad. No relativism in those books, movies, games and soon to be legos....:). Some people who state the opposite, that the spells are not taken seriously and are arbitrary, that is, not connected to an obvious evil source, such as Sauron in LOTR. Relativism is the secular idea that there is no good or bad except what one decides, and this modernist heresy is part of the ethos of WoW. If it were clearly defined what was necessary evil, and that, for example necromancy was always evil and never good, this problem would be solved. This is not the case. Some activities are always objectively evil according the Catholic teaching AND natural law philosophy.
Third, I have been puzzled by the use of unnecessary and extreme violence in the game. Those who are familiar with the game know these uses of violence. Some young people disagree with me on this point, stating that the ratings of teen was based not on violence but on drunkenness in the game. Some twenty-somethings say the cartoon and out-dated graphics make it less violent. But, as one NOT immune to violence, I find it disturbing.
Fourth, a cult changes peoples personalities and takes them into another realm of false reality. That is the entire point of this game. In cults, people get a new identity to the point where family members state that they do not even know the brother, sister, son, etc. any more after cult involvement. One of the signs of an occult is the addictive or compulsive behavior it causes in its members. One cannot live outside the cult, one defends the cult, one loses one's rational ability to critique the cult, all one's friends are in the cult and so on. WoW with shrinking membership is still a group of 10 Million. These people must play the game. To me, this is a sign of cultic brainwashing and addiction.
Fifth, ritual is a huge part of the game. Players get involved personally in these rituals in order to be the characters, etc. These rules and rituals create a vocabulary which is bizarre and particular to WoW. This fact alone is a sign of a cult. The topic will form a part of another posting in the near future.
Sixth, the game is a community just as a cult is a community, of closed membership, demanding certain commitments, to the point of becoming the most important interactive group of friends, relationships, in a person's life. The fact that it is virtual does not mean that this is less real than the Moonies or Heaven's Gate. The WoW community can become and does become the arena where people are accepted unconditionally without moral or any other type of outside input. The VIRTUAL has taken over the pursuit of VIRTUE. For example, in the days of chivalry and knighthood, the knight had to go through certain rituals in order to become a man capable of being knight. The same is still true for pursuing a career or a vocation. It takes six years to become a doctor, for example, after undergraduate school, and the same for becoming a priest. The preparation can be longer. The purification of the intellect necessary for forming a good conscience and the purification of the emotions necessary for becoming a man or woman who is mature takes time and energy wasted in the virtual world. What is truly based on a life of virtue has been lost in the game.
WoW which is from the manipulation of the community or rules of the game. Manipulation is only efficacious if; one, the person agrees to it; and two, if it is coherent. One of my young friends noted that all sport is manipulative to a certain extent. He wrote:

Shane Warne manipulated cricket for two decades by bowling a ball that no batsman could handle. As long as he was physically and mentally fit, he was unbeatable. That's not a problem with the game - merely an exceptional man with exceptional ability.

I may disagree with him on this point, but I say that cults attract people who are manipulable. That is the success of a cult. Those heavily independent minded people are not attracted to cults. However, some extremely intelligent and good people are, by the very fact that they are idealists and have a need for a community who agrees with their ideals. I think the point is that the cult is self-selecting.

WoW has or had people in the game who “policed it” and this in itself indicates to me it is a cult. Those who were policing it were still “in reality”. The fact that some left the real world is scary.