Letting Go

The discomfort caused by the dissonance between what (we think) we need to be and what we actually are…

I wonder sometimes if the emptiness so many of us feel is only difficult to cope with because we live in a world which sells us another self altogether. We participate through consumption, craving experience and accessories through which to define ourselves, in which to seek validation through others and those internalised perceptions, assumptions and expectations we constantly absorb from the culture in which we are embedded. We keep pouring more fuel into the tank but find ourselves perennially running on empty. We seek a completeness and concrete logic of psychological, existential continuity but this completeness and certainty does not actually exist. The discomfort caused by the dissonance between what (we think) we need to be and what we actually are – this creates manifold individual and shared narcissistic neuroses and a deep and unremitting feeling of unease. While consumer culture (and its associated economies of culturally-mediated experience and artefact-aggregation) benefits quite well from this foundational discomfort, our personal lives suffer endlessly. Letting go of this shared illusion and aspiration to participatory self-validation is the hardest thing to do, but it also remains the simplest and most important step anyone could take towards their own happiness.

2 replies on “Letting Go”

Well said. Indeed though, the low-hanging fruit of almost all critiques of consumerism is some kind of nostalgia for a pre-economic past, some kind of belief in a mythical age in which we were able to live authentically, unencumbered by the burden of late capitalist culture. If only we were able to return to then all would be right with the world. I think the harder reality is that human beings are walking contradictions, knots in the smooth continuity of the universe that will create symbolic eruptions of angst and incompleteness wherever they go. Far from taking consumerism as symptomatic of developments in capitalism, scientism, and technologism, we should see the FACT THAT PEOPLE BLAME CONSUMERISM ON THESE THINGS, rather than the constitutively incomplete nature of man, as most intriguing.

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Hi Ted. Yes, I agree that we can not return to any idealised (and likely fictional) past; one can not un-ring a bell. I do feel that this “harder reality” indicates or illuminates what is a fundamental misapprehension in our species’ self-representations and comprehension of the complexities and symmetries of self//world dichotomy (and unity). It is curious that the intellectual tools which might be used to untangle our many shared existential crises only emerge pari passu the emergence of those problems – that the conditions required to allow the conceptual sophistication required to address these problems of this complex, networked self//world only arise once those problems reach their own unique kind of maturity and, if not sophistication, at least a certain degree of intractability.

Incompleteness in self and systems implies a meta-logical self//world system, a superposition of states and statuses. We can’t unring this bell of evolving economic participatory self-hood, but we can overlay abstractions upon it, filters through which to engage, educate, evolve strategies and concepts…

These are enormous topics; non-trivial in regards to required depth of analyses and of consequences.

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