PDA

View Full Version : What's Wrong with Modern Life?


Pessimist
04-07-2014, 02:22 PM
I've been a lurker on TLO for a long time, and just today created an account so as to participate directly in some of the discussions here. There's also a particular discussion I'm looking to instigate.

I've noticed on TLO that complaint about modern life has a positive valence for a significant proportion of the regular contributors, regardless of philosophical inclination. There seems to be something--likely a number of things--about the culture of the Western world specifically that brings out disgust in many of the members here. I'm starting this thread to generate explicit, focused discourse about the repugnant elements of contemporary life, as up until now I've only seen the topic touched on passingly in threads that focus on other issues.

To be clear, I'm not seeking to start another round of philosophical combat, in which each side seeks to establish the superiority of its view. Rather, I'm hoping to see members express their gripes with life as we know it. I suspect that some pattern or another might emerge as posts file in.

For my part, I find the speed of modern life to be extremely distressing. It seems as if setting up any stable social network is next to impossible, in that huge swathes of people my age are wont to migrate for the sake of schooling and work. Indeed, in my experience the first couple decades or so of life are distinctly and significantly worsened by this. Every movement in grade school entails some kind of social upheaval, followed by dissolution at the end of high school and college, when most of us are forced to break away from the friendships that we spent years developing.

Also, the fact that there are still people who take Ayn Rand seriously is horrifying, baffling, and enraging.

qcrisp
04-07-2014, 03:12 PM
I'll start the ball rolling in responses with a fairly light-hearted contribution.

This is from memory.

At the time when I was still using a personal Facebook account, I read, on the Facebook wall of a friend, an article written in reaction to the media response to the London riots of August 2011. The article had collected together a number of newspaper articles on the same theme, at intervals of some years apart, going back at least to the fifties, the theme being the rise in criminality and the decline in standards of behaviour in Britain. The conclusion was that familiar conclusion that this is an eternal lament. The friend posting the article said something much the same, such as: "This goes to show that there has always been the same concern about the decline of civilisation."

That's a vague approximation of what he wrote, but I remember much better the reply of one of his friends to this, which was:

"Yeah, but don't you find that the laments about the decline of civilisation were better written and showed a broader understanding of human nature in the past?"

The funny thing was, having read the meta-article, and compared the articles quoted from within it, I thought this was entirely accurate.

Pessimist
04-07-2014, 03:35 PM
Speaking of Facebook, surely there's something disturbing with that "selfie" ####?

Coa
04-07-2014, 03:49 PM
Something like this for example : "When I look at history, I am a pessimist ... but when I look at prehistory,I am an optimist."
- J. C. Smuts

Malone
04-07-2014, 04:08 PM
Some things:

Ubiquity of technology
Entertainment as sole value
Celebrity culture
Overpopulation
Longer and longer working lives and reduction in social protection
Cancer
Popular of mindless materialism (both in the philosophical and social sense)
Decline of learning for its own sake
Environmental degradation

And so on....

Justin Isis
04-07-2014, 04:10 PM
Significant problems with modern life include economic injustice, corporate greed, the first world continuing its exploitation of the third, repressive political regimes and the depletion of natural resources. Not that these were much better in the past, but I think we're hopefully aware of them enough now that we can at least conceptualize working against inequality. The alternative seems to be a new era of feudalism in which the super rich are separated from the unemployed by a vast and unbridgeable chasm, with psychotic levels of competition all around. You can see this in China, and in top level fields in the U.S. and other first world nations.

In theory at least, communications technology is supposed to strengthen and facilitate social networks. But in practice, platforms like Facebook tend towards lacking any real intimacy or quality control as people post careless and attention-seeking updates. But that doesn't mean social networking technology is inherently bad; you just need to find the applications that work for you rather than being sucked along with the crowd. I rarely check Twitter or Facebook because they're spam platforms that don't relate to or improve my daily life. But small, coordinated chat groups on smartphone apps like Viber, Line, Kakao and WeChat allow you to set up private groups with your friends, letting you contact them and organize events and meetups much more easily, as well as trading stories, images and music. The large populations of modern cities mean that social scenes can be conducted in a more guerilla fashion than in the past: you can have a "core" group of friends and then hundreds of others cycling through your network. If you manage it right, you can pull off a global network that will let you stay in foreign countries at low cost (crashing at friends' places) and hook you up with new jobs and friends. This is possible now in a way that it really wasn't in the past, where social stratification was more common and people didn't associate as much with those outside of their workplace/social class/nationality.

I realize this is a "things that suck" thread, but perversely I don't want to see it descend into pure negativity, however cathartic it may be. People temperamentally disposed towards negativity and introversion will tend in that direction regardless of the age. I personally can't stand any backwards-looking tendencies, and find nostalgia - for things real or imagined - to be pointless. We're moving towards the grave every second, so we might as well inhabit each of those seconds like we mean it.

Pessimist
04-07-2014, 04:16 PM
I realize this is a "things that suck" thread, but perversely I don't want to see it descend into pure negativity, however cathartic it may be. People temperamentally disposed towards negativity and introversion will tend in that direction regardless of the age. I personally can't stand any backwards-looking tendencies, and find nostalgia - for things real or imagined - to be pointless. We're moving towards the grave every second, so we might as well inhabit each of those seconds like we mean it.

My sense is that this will just heighten the chances of antagonistic exchanges (going off of what I've seen in other threads). A world improvement discussion is probably best reserved for another thread, maybe after this one has gotten many of the issues on the table.

qcrisp
04-07-2014, 07:05 PM
I realised, thinking about this thread earlier, that I have contradictory grievances regarding modern life.

As a small example, I have noticed recently that people in jobs of customer service often have appalling manners, like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJQ3TM-p2QI

On the other hand, I find that one of the blights of the current era is a priggish, censorial attitude.

There's a bit in a Steinbeck book - I forget which one - where one of the characters is driving drunk. He picks up a hitchhiker, who starts lecturing him in indignation on his condition. And the driver immediately stops the car and tells the hitchhiker to get out. Although I must admit some amount of sympathy with the hitchhiker in this case, the scene was written in such a way that I felt I understood exactly the driver's disgust at the hitchhiker's priggishness.

So, lamenting a decline in manners and lamenting a rise in priggishness might seem opposed, but I wonder if what they have in common is simply that lack of manners and priggishness are both actually inconsiderate, and, as it were 'inhuman' forms of behaviour.

I happen to be reading Bleak House at present, which is interesting for a number of reasons. It does show, at least, that the prig is not a creature that has suddenly appeared in the last fifty years. I've just read the scene of Caddy's wedding, at which most of the guests are 'friends' of her mother, who is devoted to the cause of Africa. Here's a snippet:

... Miss Wisk informed us, with great indignation, before we sat down to breakfast, that the idea of a woman's mission lying chiefly in the narrow sphere of Home was an outrageous slander on the part of her Tyrant, Man. One other singularity was, that nobody with a mission -- except Mr. Quale, whose mission, as I think I have formerly said, was to be in ecstasies with everybody's mission -- cared at all for anybody's mission. Sounds oddly familiar for a book published in 1853.

Anyway, I think by far the worst thing about our current age is something they certainly didn't have to worry about in 1853, and something that was recently mentioned in another thread, and that is electronic surveillance. I think this is more than a grievance. This gives me brain chills like nothing else. This, if it continues on its current course, is the "boot stamping on a human face for eternity", or for as long as we can survive such a condition.

Druidic
04-07-2014, 08:05 PM
I posted this earlier on Pessimistic Passages but it deserves a wide circulation:

A very suitable definition of contemporary man might be that he is man under observation—observed by the state, for one, with more and more sophisticated methods, while man makes more and more desperate attempts to escape being observed, which in turn renders man increasingly suspect in the eyes of the state and the state even more suspect in the eyes of man

--Friedrich Durrenmatt

Pessimist
04-07-2014, 08:45 PM
I posted this earlier on Pessimistic Passages but it deserves a wide circulation:

A very suitable definition of contemporary man might be that he is man under observation—observed by the state, for one, with more and more sophisticated methods, while man makes more and more desperate attempts to escape being observed, which in turn renders man increasingly suspect in the eyes of the state and the state even more suspect in the eyes of man

--Friedrich Durrenmatt

Coincidentally, I was talking to a friend today who said that the company that he works for installed cameras over the weekend. In reponse, a co-worker said to him, "I can't put up with this anymore", and quit.

njhorror
04-07-2014, 09:51 PM
I'm curious as to what is so "enraging" or "horrifying" about Ayn Rand and/or Objectivism as a philosophy. I don't really have a dog in this race as my life resembles that of a mindless drone more than one of a gentleman leading a life of contemplative reflection. I don't have much time to read let alone time to read and think, as I have in the past.

I think most people get ideas from many philosophies, and then combine those ideas into a personal philosophy. As my ex-neighbor and friend used to say about he and his communist friends. He said that they wouldn't be caught dead making money from stocks or business as that would be exploiting the workers through capitalism. So, they buy rental properties and "provide housing" to the exploited masses. When I reacted by bursting out laughing, he slapped me on the back and said, "Now you've got it!" He had lots of properties. He may have been a flawed communist, but he was a helluva nice guy that could laugh at himself.

What I think disturbs me about modern life is the rate at which we're becoming dependent on technology. The social media craze is equally a curse as well as a means of instant communication.

As I get older I realize that I know alot less about how things "should be", but a fair amount about how things are, which could be pessimistic or optimistic depending on the day. :D

Pessimist
04-07-2014, 10:24 PM
I'm curious as to what is so "enraging" or "horrifying" about Ayn Rand and/or Objectivism as a philosophy.


Read Atlas Shrugged. After that, you will know.

Souphead
04-07-2014, 11:30 PM
What bugs me most about modern life is the view that it is fixed against the majority of us. That's not to say that life hasn't been fixed for most people in the past but now we are more aware of this fixing.
Compare a hamster living in its cage to a human in jail. The hamster, seemingly unaware of its incarceration seems to make the best of it while the human in jail just stews and gets depressed. So, I don't think it is a specific thing that bugs me but I have enough understanding of how things work to know it/they are there and that's the problem. Ignorance is bliss.

Cnev
04-07-2014, 11:31 PM
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

-Bertrand Russell

I'm not sure how much of a problem it is, but I find the hipster atheism spawned by Dawkins and his cronies pretty maddening sometimes. The fact that this kind of "intellectualism", based on nothing but a willingness to reject god, has become so popular and accessible makes me queasy. I don't like to pick on people, but the sheer stupidity of the whole "Faces of Atheism" crap just blows my mind. It does actually worry me a bit how this kind of aggressive close-mindedness is so closely associated with popular scientists such as Dawkins, and how readily accepted it is among younger folks as a superior form of thought.

Frater_Tsalal
04-08-2014, 12:01 AM
I don't know... I think every period of human history has its good points and bad points. Even now, I'm always finding new things that strike my fancy, be it certain writers, computer games, pop culture icons (I admit, I like Miley Cyrus). And I have no problems with social media: Facebook has been a great way for an introvert such as myself to meet new people (some of whom I've even gone on to meet in real life). Sometimes my mother pines for the 1950's, and when she does, I need to point out that it wasn't as if the 1950's was so great: you had racism, fear of nuclear war, and so on and so forth. One of the reasons why the world just seems more violent now is that things are covered more in the news media.

But I can see how the past appeals to some. Sometimes I get nostalgic for past time periods, even ones I've never experienced. Like, for example, life in Paris in the late 19th century, at the height of the French Decadent movement, as captured in the books of Huysmans. On one hand, it seems like a really fascinating time to live... but then I remember how badly Huysmans hated his own era, and I remember that horrifying dentist scene in his "Against Nature," and I have second thoughts.

But there are certainly things I don't like about modern life. To focus on the United States, the pop culture love affair with the whole redneck/white trash/Duck Dynasty lifestyle. That's got to go!

ChildofOldLeech
04-08-2014, 12:22 AM
- I find a lot to agree with in the previous post; that contemporary life is host to some extremely worrying and awful problems is undeniable and should not be ignored, yet at the same time, virtually every historical period going back millennia has had its Jeremiahs complaining about decadence and the dissolution of the good and beautiful. Now, the latter comes down to 'personal pathology' each picks their own preferred poison: personally, I would take widespread atheism, self-satisfied prattle, warts and all, over self-satisfied, rampant religiosity any day of the week - which is, concerns over the rise of materialist philosophy notwithstanding, still intensely all-pervasive, at least here in the states. Just today, I was reading how a new documentary is being released that teaches the controversy about Galileo and the geocentric universe, and correspondingly, how 1 in 4 americans believe the sun revolves around the earth, presumably because life is precious, and god, and the bible; to quote Mr. Show.

gveranon
04-08-2014, 12:23 AM
I'm curious as to what is so "enraging" or "horrifying" about Ayn Rand and/or Objectivism as a philosophy.

In another thread, someone misread me and opined that I was expressing an attitude similar to Ayn Rand. I replied that I "despised" her. Strong word, maybe too strong for any feeling that I could actually muster toward her, but I'll try to explain.

The short version would be something like pessimist's succinct post above.

The longer, rambling version:

When I was about 18-20 I had a fairly close friend who was really into Ayn Rand. This was kind of funny, because he didn't seem the type. We were both long-haired, dope-smoking hippies back then. I've since lost touch with him, but I've heard he's into left-wing politics now! Anyway, back then I would read anything, and I ended up reading every ####ing word of Atlas Shrugged. It's rank propaganda, with stick-figure heroes and villains. Its depiction of American society has only a tenuous relationship to reality. Rand admitted elsewhere that she wrote what she called "romantic" fiction rather than realistic fiction. I don't have a problem with that (other than noticing how bad the fiction is). Unfortunately, though, she turned it into a cult. She's the L. Ron Hubbard of economics, and her acolytes (you may have heard of some of them: Alan Greenspan, Paul Ryan . . . there are many more) have real power. If she had been content to simply be a bad novelist, I wouldn't care any more about her than I would about the many thousands of other bad novelists.

I'm more conservative than many who would say they despise Ayn Rand, so I feel the need to explain that, too. (Sorry.) I'm not anti-capitalism, although I think we need much stronger regulations in some areas (break up too-big-to-fail banks; they obviously aren't "private sector" if they get government bailouts) and rules to curb corruption (many are convinced that influence-buying is free speech and is therefore constitutionally protected! Uh, I think constitutional interpretation went off the rails somewhere.) Etc.

You don't have to be left-wing to despise Ayn Rand. Back in the '50s, Whittaker Chambers wrote a scathing review of Atlas Shrugged for National Review. Chambers' review rankles people to this day. His review contains this well-known sentence: “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, ‘To a gas chamber -- go!’” That's a little bit unfair, but only a little bit. It is one thing to preach neo-classical economics (a little more of which might be beneficial, in my opinion, though I am in favor of a mixed economy); it is another to set up a crude morality tale in which the "haves" can cheer as the masses of "have-nots" go to their destruction. Have you noticed that people who are turned on by this sort of propaganda feel quite self-righteous in their unconcealed lust for cartoon-ideology vengeance?

I could go on, but there's probably no need. By the way, I haven't seen the movie Atlas Shrugged, so my comments don't pertain to that. Somehow I doubt that it's an edifying movie, though.

Pessimist
04-08-2014, 12:47 AM
Thanks for your post, gveranon. It mirrors much of my feelings about Rand, but I tend to take Chambers' view of her as a fascist much more seriously--though I should stress that he isn't the only exponent of this take on Rand.

Also, if you're looking for more detail, njhorror, please see the following video which does an excellent job of skewering and roasting Rand's "philosophical" "novel" (uh oh, this thread is turning into a Rand-bashing fest):

Atlas Shrugged in 11:25 - YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z48y6Cmrjj4&list=FLhYQoD-l7s_5AxTkyeW41XA&index=15)

Frater_Tsalal
04-08-2014, 01:04 AM
In regards to Rand, I do admit to liking The Fountainhead, though I can't really support its philosophy: but it's less black and white than her other books, with somewhat more fleshed out characters. I've never been able to make it through more than 100 pages of Atlas though... which kind of bugs me as I like reading really long books every now and then, and that's one of the longest (and to be fair, it does have a great title for a book). But the artistry just isn't there.

DoktorH
04-08-2014, 01:46 AM
I don't think there's anything wrong with modern life.

I do think this thread is a great idea. gives the folks who like to complain about life one spot to do all their complaining, compare complaints, etc.

qcrisp
04-08-2014, 08:03 AM
I have been too much neglecting my work, so this might be my last longish post for some time.

I just wanted to add some more thoughts on the whole question of modern life being sickeningly loathsome.

First of all, as this article in Vice demonstrates, you don't have to be an old fogey to despair of the current age. (Incidentally, if you're like me, your apocalypse alarm bells are on a hair-trigger, so I will do you the favour of pointing out in advance that the NASA study alluded to is far from as authoritative and decisive - so I read elsewhere - as the article makes it sound):

http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/what-do-we-do-when-we-know-the-world-is-ending?utm_source=vicefbuk

Secondly, I'd like to point out that you don't necessarily need to have a hankering for the past to think that the present age is ####. In fact, countering criticisms of the current age with the observation that things weren't better in the past might be simply a form of not-facing-reality in itself (I couldn't think of the appropriate word, I'm afraid, so had to cobble with hyphens).

Houellebecq makes the same point, pretty much, in his interview in The Paris Review. He defends his work against the charge of being reactionary by saying that he's not advocating a return to the past, merely cataloguing what is wrong with the present:

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6040/the-art-of-fiction-no-206-michel-houellebecq

Of course, this is why Houellebecq upsets so many people and why he is such a great read. His work, amongst other things, highlights all that has gone wrong with the idealistic social activism of the sixties.

Which brings me to this documentary, Terms and Conditions May Apply:

http://thoughtmaybe.com/terms-and-conditions-may-apply/

I mentioned surveillance before as the worst thing about modern life. But if we look into the background of surveillance, the 'grievances' behind the 'horror' become clear - if the information in this film is accurate.

I suppose one could trace the influences that have brought about current levels of surveillance farther back, but as far as they are traced in this film it is striking that there is a convergence of two seemingly opposed factors:

1. The war on terrorism
2. The 'free culture' ideals of the sixties.

I think one of the things that makes the 'grievances' of modern life so particularly sickening is the prevalence of the kind of irony whereby the 'good guys' end up screwing us all over.

So, 'free culture' leads to the sabotaging of any kind of considered culture generally, but, because it refuses to face the fact that all things need sponsorship of some kind, it gives license to monopolising Internet giants to make their money in underhand ways, by collecting data on us and selling it. Thereby, free culture leads to a society that is anything but free. And this is especially nauseating when one sees that these free culture ideals actually support the 'war on terror'.

And modern life is replete with such ironies.

And this is why it is so sickening.

Pessimist
04-08-2014, 11:18 AM
qcrisp,

I've really enjoyed reading your posts and think that they wonderfully get at the heart of the issues plaguing us.

I second your claim: to complain about life as it is now is not to suggest that we should return to an earlier way of life. Some other posts in this thread have suggested that those complaining about modern life are pining for bygone times, but of course this need not be the case, and is not true of me (though I suppose this isn't entirely true: I did like the 90s a lot better than what has followed).

In skimming some old philosophy books of mine last night, I came across a quote that is of special pertinence with respect to this thread (from Thomas McCarthy's introduction to Habermas' Reason and the Rationalization of Society). Rather than type the whole thing out, I took a screenshot of the relevant part of the book and attached it to this post.

Waffiesnaq
04-08-2014, 11:28 AM
I guess the thing I find most frustrating about modern society, or the parts of modern society I've moved through, is the apathetic hedonism at the cost of intellectual curiosity. Studying English at university made me pretty disillusioned when it comes to the malleability of the tender human brain. I became alienated after perceiving what I thought to be an excess in debauchery among my peers. It seemed that many of my fellow students had enrolled not to read Milton or Blake but to instigate a bacchanalia that would make Caligula blush. And although I was guilty of dabbling myself (one is only young once!) a horror began to dawn on the scene of the young ones around me, and this horror was my own realization that most of these people gave #### all about the Renaissance or Elizabethan tragedy. They were here because the state provided them with a free scholarship to carouse around and vomit on books. So cue social withdrawal, Paradise Lost. It bothered me. Of course, I'm sure Milton and Blake tripped balls in their own fashion, but at least they found a way to make it art and enrich other people. I realize I'm sounding like a square, and I'm fully aware that life is all about picking your poison, but gosh darn it, I would be so much more hopeful if young people in my country would just drink a LITTLE bit less. Curse of the Vikings, I guess.

I'm not sure how much of a problem it is, but I find the hipster atheism spawned by Dawkins and his cronies pretty maddening sometimes. The fact that this kind of "intellectualism", based on nothing but a willingness to reject god, has become so popular and accessible makes me queasy.
It's strange, alright. Despite its historical baggage atheism really is astoundingly simple: it's a disbelief in God, and... that's it. Yet this absence of a belief has been designated as a rallying point for secularists, probably because it's the only thing they can agree on while disagreeing on everything else. It's something that can join the capitalist and communist together as joyous bedfellows. Ayn deserves a profound spanking but I will say this: no matter how repulsive one might find the philosophy of the Randists, one has to give that foul harridan credit where it's due: all things considered, at least her atheism is a footnote that is stated in passing before moving on to greater issues at hand. But these "New Atheists" expand the footnote to fit the page, whole books; they print it all out, it's plastered on billboards, and atheists like myself see them and faint. Rand never wrote a book on atheism, choosing instead a great variety of things she found more important. Objectivists and communists have one thing in common: the atheist outlook. But that aside, they're diametrical opposites in terms of... well, history, art, ethics, politics, economics, psychology, you name it. Dawkins and his ilk have been trying so consistently to unite people over the absence of a belief, not realizing that the only outcome resulting in this gathering of atheists will be the Final Coming of the Prig, a cataclysmic circlejerk. So much semen has already been spilled over this, it almost rivals the blood shed by religion! Still, talk after talk, atheists are rounded up for free inquiry in a room filled with folks who have twerked condescendingly at superstition, who have already bought what they peddle... so now what?

And yeah, I do sympathize with your views on Rand, gveranon. I read almost all of Atlas Shrugged back in the day, but had to listen to the last bit on a pirated (!) audio book version while I dozed on the bed in the background, the melodramatic writing was just so unappealing. This was after I bought THIS RATHER LIGOTTIAN GRIMOIRE which I still have in my library for some reason, wholly unread. :drunk:

There is one really, really ugly passage in the novel in which a train-load of evil government leeches are traveling through a mountain. The train is defective in some way, because of ineptly constructed parts devised by the government or something, and the passengers end up perishing. One of them is described as a "sniveling little neurotic". I suspect this was the part of the book especially that inspired Chambers' "To a gas chamber -- go!"

Pessimist
04-08-2014, 12:17 PM
I suspect this was the part of the book especially that inspired Chambers' "To a gas chamber -- go!"

Here's what Ludwig von Mises (another repugnant devotee of unrestrained capitalism) had to say in response to Atlas Shrugged (my emphasis):

"You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you."

I cannot read such dross without hearing, "Heil Hitler!" (ironically enough, Mises billed himself as an anti-Nazi).

Justin Isis
04-08-2014, 12:34 PM
I'm not sure how much of a problem it is, but I find the hipster atheism spawned by Dawkins and his cronies pretty maddening sometimes. The fact that this kind of "intellectualism", based on nothing but a willingness to reject god, has become so popular and accessible makes me queasy.

Dawkins and his ilk have been trying so consistently to unite people over the absence of a belief, not realizing that the only outcome resulting in this gathering of atheists will be the Final Coming of the Prig, a cataclysmic circlejerk.

It's more the attempt to turn "science" into an ideology (or even an aesthetic) rather than simply an experimental method for interacting with the physical world. You cannot have some kind of political "Science Party" (sounds very Nazi) or "Science Gang" (The Brights, lol) in the same way you would a Marxist, Christian or Randian group. Except that they really, really want to do this, so they've fixated on atheism. In a way, calling them "Brights" or something equally condescending is probably the best idea, since it at least avoids implicating all atheists, such as those with a sense of humor.

Coa
04-08-2014, 12:41 PM
Even if I think there is plenty of wrong about modern life (and it will get much worse) I never considered this thread as - What's Wrong with Modern Life? : The LIST... and it didn't turn out that way either.
Everyone can be very personal and subjective and still remain universal and objective when it comes to acknowledging problems of modern life or modern living - that is reason why this thread could work, thread what's wrong with LIFE in existential meaning of word would fail exactly because it would be to personal and subjective but not this one.

I recently read article on Guardian by Slavoj Zizek in which he mentions Atlas Shrugged, I find it very interesting. This is what he wrote :
"One of the weird consequences of the 2008 financial meltdown and the measures taken to counteract it (enormous sums of money to help banks) was the revival of the work of Ayn Rand, the closest one can get to an ideologist of the "greed is good" radical capitalism. The sales of her opus Atlas Shrugged exploded. According to some reports, there are already signs that the scenario described in Atlas Shrugged – the creative capitalists themselves going on strike – is coming to pass in the form of a populist right. However, this misreads the situation: what is effectively taking place today is almost the exact opposite. Most of the bailout money is going precisely to the Randian "titans", the bankers who failed in their "creative" schemes and thereby brought about the financial meltdown. It is not the "creative geniuses" who are now helping ordinary people, it is the ordinary people who are helping the failed "creative geniuses".
John Galt, the central character in Atlas Shrugged, is not named until near the end of the novel. Before his identity is revealed, the question is repeatedly asked, "Who is John Galt". Now we know precisely who he is: John Galt is the idiot responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, and for the ongoing federal government shutdown in the US."

You can read it here : Who is responsible for the US shutdown? The same idiots responsible for the 2008 meltdown | Slavoj Žižek | Comment is free | The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/11/who-responsible-us-shutdown-2008-meltdown-slavoj-zizek)

Cnev
04-08-2014, 01:00 PM
Atheist Church First Sunday Assembly - Dont Panic - YouTube

:D

Pessimist
04-08-2014, 01:39 PM
On the topic of new atheists, the vacuity of their larger philosophy aggravates me. In addressing meaning after god, I've never heard or read them offer up anything beyond the trite, useless exhortation, "make up your own meaning!". Do they really think it's this simple? I get the feeling that most people who've hopped on this movement wouldn't know "free" (or, for that matter, good) thought if it crawled up their asses like Badlaa from The X-Files.

To clarify, this isn't to criticize atheism per se (I am an atheist), but only new atheism.

Druidic
04-08-2014, 03:15 PM
Stupid people, stupid bureaucracy that makes possible absurdities like this:

Baby in hiding after attempted murder charge | New York Post (http://nypost.com/2014/04/08/9-month-old-baby-in-hiding-after-attempted-murder-charge/)

Speaking Mute
04-08-2014, 05:41 PM
I'm going to be reductive and state that the problem with modern life is the loss of self-sufficiency. A few thousand years ago you could always go off and live on your own, or with your chosen group, for whatever reason. Now, no matter where you go, you'll have to rely on someone for something, and this means you'll owe them. And they will collect, one way or another - maybe just money, but more often than not it's some form of obedience they want.

qcrisp
04-11-2014, 06:48 AM
Just a quick one - an example of the kind of 'double-speak' that is becoming prevalent.

The most recent emetic phrase I have noticed (or the one I have noticed most recently) is 'reaching out' used in a business setting in place of 'contacting' or 'spamming' or something:

"Hi, I am reaching out to you today to see if you would be interested in the promotional services we provide."

"Hi, I am reaching out to you to see if you are gullible enough to provide me with credit card details and other personal information."

Etc.

So, 'reaching out' no longer implies spontaneous or heartfelt sincerity in human contact - which is as endangered as the orang utan - but at best seems to mean, "I have chosen you as a target in my networking or a rung in my ladder".

DoktorH
04-11-2014, 10:44 AM
I became alienated after perceiving what I thought to be an excess in debauchery among my peers. It seemed that many of my fellow students had enrolled not to read Milton or Blake but to instigate a bacchanalia that would make Caligula blush. And although I was guilty of dabbling myself (one is only young once!) a horror began to dawn on the scene of the young ones around me, and this horror was my own realization that most of these people gave #### all about the Renaissance or Elizabethan tragedy. They were here because the state provided them with a free scholarship to carouse around and vomit on books. So cue social withdrawal, Paradise Lost.

dagnabbit. I must've gone to the wrong school. at my college, the English majors were mostly single moms and military wives going back to school. I was the only scholarship-recipient there to study literature because I enjoyed reading. no bacchanalias to speak of. Then again, the mind is its own place, and can make of breakfast a bacchanalia and of bacchanalia a boredom.

Empty Socket
04-14-2014, 05:32 PM
The seeming abandonment of the Enlightenment.

ToALonelyPeace
04-15-2017, 01:38 PM
My apologies for reviving another old thread. At this point I should just change my name to The Necromancer. :o


So, lamenting a decline in manners and lamenting a rise in priggishness might seem opposed, but I wonder if what they have in common is simply that lack of manners and priggishness are both actually inconsiderate, and, as it were 'inhuman' forms of behaviour.

Anyway, I think by far the worst thing about our current age is something they certainly didn't have to worry about in 1853, and something that was recently mentioned in another thread, and that is electronic surveillance. I think this is more than a grievance. This gives me brain chills like nothing else. This, if it continues on its current course, is the "boot stamping on a human face for eternity", or for as long as we can survive such a condition.
The perceived lack of manner in modern time is perhaps related to a clash between Empire vs Post-Empire (http://numerocinqmagazine.com/2011/07/20/in-hell-we-will-all-burn-brightly-bret-easton-elliss-empire-vs-post-empire-by-brianna-berbenuik/).
To quote:
Empire is ego: ego in the sense that all the arrogance of oneself is in seriousness rather than satire.
So if Empire can loosely be defined as having a stick up one’s ass, what is Post-Empire?
Post-Empire is a new kind of realism. Calling bull#### as it is, stripping celebrity of its bulletproof myths, candidness, breakdowns, testing “politically correct” boundaries, irony, offensiveness in the face of a reserved attitude that hides insidious cultural uptightness for the last 60 years.
Empire are those who run screaming in the burning fire of this madhouse while Post-Empire sit back in the corner and enjoy the show.

The game Don't Take It Personally, It Just Ain't Your Story also enlightens me on this age's attitude to surveillance. The player takes the role of a teacher in a private school and in order to find out all the secret troubles of students, the player infiltrates and stalks the student's private chat. The end reveals the students have known it all along and even encouraged it. Sounds nuts, but I follow Zizek's attitude here

Slavoj Žižek (2015) - YouTube