Are political events and large-scale disasters now the only form of collective experience?

version

Who loves ya, baby?
(I guess we touched on some of this in the "willing on the catastrophe" thread, but I think it's a different angle.)

I was flicking through old threads in Art, Literature & Film last night and noticed there used to be a lot more discussion of stuff like specific BBC shows, films on at the time, new books, exhibitions and so on. I think the decline of that sort of collective experience of culture's perhaps come up in the dematerialisation thread and certainly in the media - Game of Thrones being talked about as the last "water cooler show" comes to mind - but it really hit me when thinking about what we have been discussing... Coronavirus, Brexit, Trump, George Floyd... The only thing we're all still watching, reading and thinking about is the news, specifically very big, very frightening, very loud news. There doesn't seem to be anything outside it anymore. I don't even know what's on TV these days. It just isn't important. If someone asks me whether I've seen or heard something, it's inevitably a Trump quote or some horrific event rather than a film or song.

It's not a dazzlingly original observation, we're all familiar with Ballard, DeLillo etc, but every so often I find these things register on a gut level. Every conversation I have now seems to be about news and politics, and when I do talk about something else it feels as though what everyone's really thinking about is news and politics. It's inescapable.

 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Could it be related to how the diversity of content reinforces a variety of niches, with ever more niches being established and reinforced (or "communities")? This, instead of a more common/orthodox culture?

More and more content available, all the while more and more of the history of content is rendered accessible, regurgitated, adapted.

This could also shed light on any disappearance of a distinct underground culture? I believe someone here was addressing that. Although, I'm not really one to attest to that: perhaps I'm not in the know. But it would make sense. If the dominant cultural mainline gets fractured, so does its shadow?

Once enough of a fracturing/"nichifying", there ceases to be a distinctly common cultural frame of reference?

More to your point, perhaps our increasingly globalized horizons amounts to a bigger pond, within which only the bigger fish stand out. At such a scale, might all such big fish necessarily register as traumatically/unprocessably big?

In any case, I see your point.
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
Do you think, perhaps a generation or two down (although maybe sooner), mere taste in content will transform into more of a radical basis of identity?

Because it sure seems, sometimes, that we are on a one-way track to totally expressing our identities indirectly through our favorite content.

Para-social relationships morphing into fanaticisms, perhaps with increasingly explicit political pull?

Sorry if this goes off course, but I think it's complimentary. I think it's interesting to consider celebrity as spectacle incarnate, and attention as currency. In such an economy, it is almost inevitable that some things will garner the attention of everyone - but does that conflict with the trend of fracturing/diversifying content varieties?

Also sheds a bit of light on how someone like Trump can get where he's gotten, attention-mongering, etc.

A bit nerve-wracking: could the generations who developed their social fluency in the arena of social media, those perhaps a bit more adjusted to ever more colorful personas competing for attention-currency - could such competition translate directly into politics when these generations come of age?
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
i was thinking something similar, that politics is the remnant of the mainstream, all that's left of a monoculture in a weird sort of way

except that it's two monocultures that are welded together - because following the same timeline of events, controversies, battles, etc - yet seeing them with radically opposed perspectives

if you tune into Fox News, it's a nonstop list of police that have been killed or injured (including incidents of police being killed that are completely nothing to do with the protests) .... in their reality, the police are the victims

i'm not sure if Fox have ever even shown the footage of the old white dude getting knocked over and the cops just walking past as the blood seeps out of his ear (one cop pauses and half crouches as if to check if the guy's not dead, but the other cops hurry him along)
 

constant escape

winter withered, warm
bliss - Perhaps a naive question, but I think it's worth really considering:

Do you think that, generally, other channels/sources/voices are genuinely catching on to these trends? Or do you think some of them are just going along with demands, pressured by outside passions and opting for camouflage?

One could argue that either way is a step forward, however overdue, no?
 

luka

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Staff member
definietely a lot in this thesis but what about the influence of the stars and the moon and the weather and the techno-grid which surrounds the earth
 

luka

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pattycakes has his moon thread and im not the only one to mention how this lockdown thing has increased or foregrounded weather sensitivity to the point where it's almost a menace.
 

luka

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me and barty were talking about this in the early stages of The Event. its helped to get everyones attention focussed in the same direction. put us under laboratory conditions as barty put it where the variables are limited and controlled. everyone at home ingesting The Feed. the Mayan Control Calender back in action.
 

luka

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Which of those Delillo books is about the terrorist being in competition with, or even supplanting the artist?
 

luka

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If music is a model for that which produces the shared vibration, the group-soul, what are it's analogues? Political events and large scale disasters. Grenfell really impressed this on me. more intimately and acutely than 9/11. It was that which really impressed on me the reality of these events as collective trauma.
 

luka

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The idea of trauma programming is a central theme in the modern conspiratorial imagination and it is derived from this realisation.
 

luka

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And this is why it lends itself to an understanding of The Spectacle, which includes these news entertainment 'events' as well as cinema, video games, music,award shows, advertising, as being programmed and controlled and directed. McLuhan took up this position (I think he finds it in Wyndham Lewis) and Bob Dobbs inherits it from him.
 

version

Who loves ya, baby?
“In societies reduced to blur and glut, terror is the only meaningful act. There's too much everything, more things and messages and meanings that we can use in ten thousand lifetimes. Inertia-hysteria. Is history possible? Is anyone serious? Who do we take serious? Only the lethal believer, the person who kills and dies for faith. Everything else is absorbed. The artist is absorbed, the madman in the street is absorbed and processed and incorporated. Give him a dollar, put him in a TV commercial. Only the terrorists stand outside. The culture hasn't figured out how to assimilate him. It's confusing when they kill the innocent. But this is precisely the language of being noticed, the only language the West understands. The way they determine how we see them. The way they dominate the rush of endless streaming images.”
 

luka

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Staff member
there's something in that to be fair to him. it's the only book of his i liked and remembered at all.
 
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