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Author Topic: Do we get a kick out of intrigue?  (Read 1028 times)

Offline coberst

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Do we get a kick out of intrigue?
« on: 29/05/2009 14:15:12 »
Do we get a kick out of intrigue?

Shakespeare’s insight, as he proclaimed that life is a stage and we are the actors on that stage of life, leaves us pitiful, in nude exposure, of our self to our self, and places us in a position were we can no longer ‘just pretend’.  Social theory has the task of comprehending the fictions, the games, the make-believe, we humans display in our effort to integrate our self into society; sociology has not failed in illuminating the games people play.

‘Cabalistic’ (engaged in intrigues) is the term used to identify the characteristic of our urge for mystery, our passion for games and secrets; without it “man is just not man”.   Humans have an overwhelming desire to invest life with great significance.  Wo/man is not a player in society but is a player at society.

Civilization has become an uncritical style of life that sacrifices the free energies of the citizen to a self-absorbed and largely fictional pattern of social meaning.


I have been reading about mythology written by Joseph Campbell.  In his attempt to make it possibly for the reader to comprehend how myth works he speaks about the human ability to ‘make-believe’.

He speaks of the universality of childhood make-believe and of how this same characteristic is exhibited in human rituals.  For example he uses the Catholic Church practice of mass when the priest changes the wine and bread into the body and blood of Christ.  In other words it seems to be inherent in humans to make-believe and in the process to truly believe and, in truly believing, experience a form of ecstasy.

Such is our experience of understanding.  In the process of trying to understand I create a model and then somewhere in this process of creating and modifying my model I pass to the point of believing the truth of my model thus the feeling of ecstasy.

In an attempt to explain to the novice the meaning of myth Campbell says that the “grave and constant” in human suffering may, and sometimes does, lead to an experience that is the apogee of our life.  This apogee experience is ineffable (not capable of expression).  Campbell considers this to be true because it is verified by individuals who have had such an experience.

“And this experience, or at least an approach to it, is the ultimate aim of religion, the ultimate reference of all myth and rite…The paramount theme of mythology is not the agony of quest but the rapture of revelation.”

Charles Fourier provides us insight into the nature of wo/man when he explains the original passion of sapiens.  ‘Cabalistic’ (engaged in intrigues) is the term he uses to identify this characteristic of our urge for mystery, our passion for games and secrets; without it, Fourier claims “man is just not man”.   Humans have an overwhelming desire to invest life with great significance.  Wo/man is not a player in society but is a player at society.

George Simmel was another great thinker who saw the “spirit” that was in human perception.  In his essay on the matter of ‘secret’ he “showed how man needed to hold things in awe, surround them with mystery”.  In his great essays we can see “in precise and detailed analysis how idealism blends with materialism, how inseparable the “idea” in a world of matter”.  He reveled that society itself is a game; people play not in, but at, society.

Max Weber the great sociologist showed us how power and prestige influences the division of the spoils of our economy; how war establishes our class structure; how economic considerations commodify subjects in our society; the prominent role of religion, myth, and the urge for eternal life affect our society; how we will sacrifice bread for belief and comfort for meaning; “how the whole panorama functions in a gigantic interplay of self-interest, survival, splendor and display, this-worldly waste and other worldly wonder…and yet through it all how they satisfy man’s basic urge to meaning, to ever-larger and more satisfying, evermore comprehensive meaning.”

Weber showed us “the newest social game of rational man—the game of numbers, calculations, efficiency: the uncompromising logic of modern bureaucracy.”  Our whole modern system was heading toward an adaptation par excellence that might be identified as our “bitter” future.

Weber’s work was deficient in that he lacked a critical quality.   Thorstein Veblen illuminated just how we use conspicuous consumption and waste for the sake of show.  It required a critical mind to show the waste and destruction of the commercial-industrial bureaucratic style assembled in the name of capitalism.  “How finally the most deadly mask of all could be pulled down over the commercial-industrial style of life: the mask of national survival, the mask of patriotism, the mask of unquestioned loyalty, of self-sacrifice—in a word, the destruction of men to the uncritical support of efficient waste.”

Civilization has become an uncritical style of life that sacrifices the free energies of the citizen to a self-absorbed and largely fictional pattern of social meaning.


Ideas and quotes from Beyond Alienation by Ernest Becker


 

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Do we get a kick out of intrigue?
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