Utilitarianism defines good as “the greatest happiness for the greatest number”. It’s an aspiration to make real choices based on an ultimate goal that’s an ideal, not a dogma. This short article tries to explain what that means.
When you move through the world on foot it is slow, but the detail is unparalleled. Distilled into memory, the space and time become navigable at the speed of thought; the fastest speed you can imagine. We can call this taking possession and none of the ‘faster’ modes of travel take ownership of space in this way. Walking is therefore the fastest and the best and the most bohème way to move through the world.
Today, three full generations after its birth in the 1940s, postmodern thinking has engendered a uniquely degraded democratization of creative ambition. It has subordinated individual originality and culture to consumerism. This piece is an exercise in therapy but useful for anyone keen for a definition of post-modernism, the cultural coronavirus against which we have no vaccine. Yet.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is a psychological state, observed when a brain holds onto a belief (about reality) in the face of persistent contradictory evidence; by somehow ignoring it. COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is stressful but not as disturbing as having to explode a belief. The brain’s natural non-stress state, however, is COGNITIVE CONSONANCE, where belief is evidentially and consistently in alignment with reality.
The less easily observed but nonetheless essential enabler of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE is known as COGNITIVE ASSONANCE. ASSONANCE recasts DISSONANCE with most of its stress removed so it feels almost as natural as CONSONANCE.
I’ve often heard Howl and The Wasteland paired before, in the smokeless midnight air of alt-coffee urban popups, listening for free as a mumbling hipster reads them aloud, back-to-back, in the same reverent cadence and double bass rhythm and nobody listening to the words…
we’re in the yangtime now. Conditions have changed. Just as important, any younger friends are now the age I was when we went through the unusual quid pro quo, when I benefited from the hopeful energy. I’m antsy because of the sense of closing time and opportunity. So scribbling away, in my spare time, observing the ho-hum-flow.
Gothic means many things to different people. It’s a much overused term but, that said, Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte) and Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) are two of the finest exemplars of the gothic novel – this much is received wisdom – but their evocation of the gothic ideal is as different as the shadow and stone.