Who could have imagined the twists and turns of the past two years? Our altered cultural landscape can’t be explained by a ‹novel virus› alone. Nor a war in Ukraine. No one attention grabbing headline could possibly make sense of the times we are living through. The technological, social and environmental changes have been a long time coming – each interacting with the others as mysteriously as air currents in the upper atmosphere.
How are we navigating meaning in this time of changes? Who are we trusting our sense-making to? Where are we getting our ‹news›? In an age of hyper-novelty, what does the ‹news› mean anymore?
One striking element of our time is the lack of trust in the institutions that had previously been granted and invested with broad public confidence. This shaken trust is nothing new of course, but the breadth of the mistrust across political, social, and class lines is noticeable. Though there is a vague free floating hope that somehow these global institutions will be shored up and life can ‹return to normal›, the observant student notices that the arc of history appears to be leading in a different direction.
No Return to Normal
Here in the U.S., the presidency of Donald Trump intertwined with social media and celebrity culture in bizarre ways. And the bizarre doesn’t appear to be going away soon. The past few years have pulled back the (already tattered) curtain to reveal how ‹gameable› the system is. It’s always been a precarious balance a democracy must strike, and we’re aware of that balance precisely to the degree we struggle to find it.
I’ve long imagined the role of the artist, the cultural creative, the ‹alternative› thinker, is to prototype new imaginations, new ways of being an individual, and new ways of being human together. These prototypes function as the living examples needed for a Society to reimagine itself, to be born afresh. This isn’t a one time process of course. It’s a story always being written – just as the human body continually sheds old cells and births new ones. Geological forces are always underway. And some days there are earthquakes and volcanoes.
Over the coming weeks and months I plan to look at the shifting sands of our media landscape in the pages of this new English language edition of ‹Das Goetheanum›. I invite you to share with me the sources you are turning to for information and for orientation. Which books, essays, websites, podcasts, authors, and inspirers are aiding your sense making?
Next week I’ll review some of the diverse voices broadcasting new pictures into the cultural landscape. It feels like a time for us to share resources as we step alone, together into an unwritten future.
More Wisdom Working
Image: Portrait of Jordan Walker