It seems to me that the most superficial and transient things are those to which we (mysteriously) attribute the most significance and meaning. This is always bound to create insecurity and friction because those foundational symbols and narratives of self and world which we attribute the source of our own existence and purpose are just as transient and contingent as everything else. We tend to double down on our bad bets, relentlessly pursuing continuity and certainty in what is fundamentally a discontinuous, volatile and uncertain world. Even a mature narrative of impermanence and endemic metamorphosis can sometimes be little more than an existential security blanket and psychological symptom or emotional longing and mischievous self-misdirection in search of a non-existent wholeness or meaningful completion to things.
…into the rabbit hole of meta-psychological explanations. Of course, I don’t know that anything is actually what it appears to be – there must always be a certain amount of epistemological abbreviation and an associated leap-of-faith. The senses and information vectors through which we are furnished the impressions with which we construct our world and with which we attribute meaning to things – we can not necessarily trust these as true or valid and consistent. The introduction of authentic epistemological doubt removes any yes/no binary certainty and calls into question everything, including this statement and all semantic trickery like it. Finding ourselves not so much imprisoned as set free by a shadowy and indistinct world of probability, complexity and uncertainty is in some way strangely comforting.
Topical hypothesis: a simple flower is naturally sincere (and profound) in a way no words can ever truly depict. I can not capture such authenticity but words can still (enigmatically) manage to successfully render my failure to do so; I wonder what this says about words, about communication and about minds. The Object of fascination or desire might be in some way transcendental by virtue of its intransigence to submit to accurate depiction in any language or logic. Every beautiful thing (and mind or person) I have ever known has been like this in some way. An ineffable beauty in things at the very least provides curvature, orbit and direction for this existential free fall of living…
In itself, the world is really quite simple. Yes, there is immense complexity, staggeringly vast Cosmic distance, deep historical depth, strangeness, novelty and a beautifully self-generating sophistication to the Way of things but our fatal error is in assuming that there is intrinsic meaning in all of this.
A simple creature, bound within a temporal stream as we are, finds itself living a rich symbolic life supported by myriad narrative inventions, of beginnings and notional teleologies and idealised (or ideological) end-states. Even the failure of our many aspirations to provide sufficient foundational explanation or unquestionable mythological certainty merely feed a certain pathological directedness and reflexive self-justification for this curious, illusory and blossoming experience and memory of subjectivity we share and each also personally cultivate.
I often find myself drawing bizarre theorems and narratives upon the existential possibility space of my experience, knowledge and memory. Imagine that, by virtue of some transformative collective presence and shared or cultural (essentially now – Global) subjectivity, interiority and psychological depth that we are all in the process of becoming, or have already become one, single, unified and massively distributed organism. All just different facets of one brilliant crystalline, pulsating and dynamic matrix of interdependence and shared, interpreted, creatively translated reality. This could never possess implicit meaning, it is a purely structural and relational conjecture built upon the facts of our shared participation in whatever exactly it is that is going on here.
Notice how the tribal aspiration to a counter-cultural identity generates corporeal branding and literal inscriptions of membership and participation. The further “out” from the center a person travels or seeks to exist, the more tightly are they bound by a need for self-conscious labelling and symbolic group identification. There is in essence no true “outside” or inalienable “counter” culture; everything exists on some interior surface, warped and twisted back upon and through itself; a spectrum and range of values across a curved surface and incomplete logical system of complex symbolic self-reference. Aesthetics and style are valid and in any specific context might possess intrinsic value but they are never really ever “anti-” anything.
What you desire also creates anxiety (a discomfort or emotional perturbation that you may not even consciously recognise or acknowledge) and it is probably because it is in the constitutive and foundational pursuit of desire that at some level you realise that your identity, your subjectivity and internal existence is structured (as though iron filings patterned by a magnetic field) by underlying designs and motives, that you may be hardwired to sabotage your own best efforts at happiness or completion and it is in some primally self-directed sense an inescapable feature of psychological Being. You are defined essentially in some sense in posture and pursuit of that which you desire but if, in obtaining it, that entire nexus and directed energy of your self should no longer possess the distance and difference (from it’s Object) that it requires to differentiate and define itself from Other (or World), then it dissolves you and your essentially, quintessentially, fragile Ego. You desire because it is through the construction, the layering and procedural, logical sedimentation of that fantasy Other that you yourself assume reflexive reality but the attainment of your wish would simultaneously invalidate your self-definition and all assertions of personal subjectivity.
This is why most of us blunder our way through the world (at least, but not solely – emotionally) from one disaster to another. We seek that Other that is only ever going to be superficially “right” for us because at some deep level of awareness we know that our very essential nature and psychological being requires dissonance and discontinuity to continue to exist.
It would be easy to interpret this idea as snarky satire but in all seriousness: the generative source of the overwhelming majority of humanity’s contemporary serious problems and that litany of existential disaster that looms large over us all is bureaucracy. So many purely self-interested fools; so much institutionalised and normalised ineptitude; so few people in positions of influence who are able to effect positive change due to the overwhelming inertia of the organisations and administrations in which they participate; so many (other) people in positions of influence who are completely incompetent; serial failures to acknowledge the true complexity of realities; unrelenting doubling down on failed, simplistic policies and strategies; HR selection mechanisms which privilege organisational continuity over effectiveness; lack of transparency.
There was probably once a historical moment where it was quite possible for this sum of all inefficiencies to muddle it’s way through the game of pretending to know what it was doing and at least resemble or simulate value, efficiency and effectiveness. This time has now long-since passed – the proliferating failures and incompetencies of our vast and lumbering bureaucracies, organisations and administrations has pretty much reached peak inertia. The peak here is that point beyond which, when confronted with rapidly accelerating cultural and technological change, the ability to pretend to be able to effectively manage situations and negotiate solutions is no longer actually even sensibly a position or pretence which is even plausible to simulate or present as an organisational self-representation.
Your average bureaucracy could not fight it’s way out of a wet paper bag. Bureaucracies do, however, excel at one specific thing: actively obfuscating, obscuring and wilfully manipulating self-representations in ways which seek to make themselves appear far better at their assigned tasks than they actually are.