Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Postmodern and Paradoxical: A Meditation on Mushrooms

 Eminem's mushroom lyrics:
"I never meant to give you mushrooms girl 
I never meant to bring you to my world"
I took this photograph yesterday– 
contemplating how difficult it is
to be a postmodernist
in the age of modernity 
while ruminating on passages 
from Joshua Cooper Ramo's book:

"There is nothing more horrible than to walk that fault line between new and old, seeing what the future holds, screaming about it in your art or your writing, and finding only mute incomprehension or dismissal in your audience." (p. 117)

"The lesson of [Gertrude] Stein's time, the lesson that the artists and intellectuals around her saw so clearly, was that just as the twentieth century demanded new ways of representation in physics, in painting, and in writing, it laid a similar demand on statesmanship and economics. But the intellectual and spiritual leap this required was, for the greatest men of the age, simply too much. Passing our eyes back on that history, we can only wonder how they missed it.  And, if were honest, we have to ask ourselves what we are missing about our own time." (p. 117)

I had a vision:
I had a strong sense as I snapped the shutter 
that the rain water pooled in the mushroom 
was all of us–the human race–
huddled in Mother Earth's embrace.

How will we survive and thrive
in the coming new age?

Again, from Ramo's book

"German sociologist Ulrich Beck has called what we're living in Risikogesellschaft, or "risk society," where we all share risks, where the richest Palm Beach socialite shares health or financial risks with the poorest of the planet's inhabitants. Indeed, what modernity manufactures better than anything else, Beck says, is new and incalculable risks that we all share and partake in, even if we're not aware of them." (p. 130)

No exit
Like it or not
We are all in this together
trapped in the mushroom. 

"There are moments, and this is one of them, when we are not spectators to history but participants...What do you do now? Stay? Run? What kind of spiritual hero are you.? 

Wendell Berry says this is 
when the Real Work begins:

"It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings."
Ramo says the answers are
Postmodern & Paradoxical
  (notes from pp. 261-2)
"It is also possible that each of us, any of us, can unleash powerful and permanent change. Some of this change will be simple...But far more of the change will be difficult. It will involve tremendous sacrifice. At times it will involve profound discomfort..."
"It requires the psychological shift from being certain about our future to being uncertain, a transformation that is as stressful as it is productive.....

At the times we are most scared we'll need to replace the habit of striking back with new efforts to connect to the world instead of alienating it and isolating ourselves." 

In a nutshell, Ramo advocates embracing change as the new normal and facing it head-on with courage, empathy, resiliency, effects-based strategizing, contextual thinking, and mashups** (which is literally putting two unrelated items together forcibly to form a new unity).
Above all
we must remember
what Niels Bohl said
in later life:

"Conformity to old ideas is lethal;
it is rebellion that is going to change the planet."  
** "If the Cubist revolution demanded that we look at one thing from multiple perspectives, mashup logic demands that we look at the world as multiple objects mixed in multiple – unpredictable – ways to create totally new objects or situations. Earl Gray, an American environmental scientist, calls this the "the new math..."(Ramo: p. 126)

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