Friday, December 31, 2010

Alienation: We Need More God And More Sports

Back to David Brooks, who I read this morning so you don't have to. He's been reading philosophy again. It seems that modern man's anomie is best explained by a substitution of the uncertainties of science for the pieties of religion, and that we poor souls take delight in sport and other things in search of what we've lost:

For the past hundred years or so, we have lived in a secular age. That does not mean that people aren’t religious. It means there is no shared set of values we all absorb as preconscious assumptions. In our world, individuals have to find or create their own meaning.

This, Dreyfus and Kelly argue, has led to a pervasive sadness. Individuals are usually not capable of creating their own lives from the ground up. So modern life is marked by frequent feelings of indecision and anxiety. People often lack the foundations upon which to make the most important choices...

We have official stories we tell about our culture: each individual is the captain of his own ship; we are all children of God. But in practice, willy-nilly, the way we actually live is at odds with the official story. Our most vibrant institutions are collective, not individual or religious. They are there to create that group whoosh: the sports stadium, the concert hall, the political rally, the theater, the museum and the gourmet restaurant. Even church is often more about the ecstatic whoosh than the theology.

The activities often dismissed as mere diversions are actually central. Real life is more about serial whooshes than coherent meaning.

We can either rebel against this superficial drift, or like Dreyfus and Kelly, go with the flow, acknowledging that the autonomous life is impossible...

---So, the notion that vastly more horrible wars, ecological destruction, medical care ever less personal and more invasive, alienation from work, economic insecurity and inequality, the systematic destruction of the social contract, the exaltation of selfishness, consumption and the 'free market', the centrality of profit in marketing, advertising and entertainment all pursued with billions of dollars, the distractions and lack of commitment undermining education--you know, those things--aren't all that important compared to the social deterioration consequent to an abandonment of the primacy of God in favor of, y'know, actual knowledge of the universe. And the remedy is MORE SPORT, MORE EMBRACE OF SPORT--things not now in evidence--to reconstitute the social contract.

You can't make this shit up...