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A Blog About Culture

Recognition, Situation, Identity, Reality

Or Dreams and Fantasy.

Or Living and Acting.

There’s something embittering about analysis. To view everything as constructs can be cold, aloof, and  can make one feel quite insignificant. Sometimes I tend to disregard passion as some sort of constructed desire for meaning, but I find myself wishing to feel it, to be indoctrinated. Consciousness can be lonely in this world.

So I began thinking about dreams. People have them. People have aspirations. They have visions of what they want their lives to be like. I think that those dreams can be genuine, as long as they come from some sort of organic place. Often, dreams are disguised as such by pretense. Those are the dreams with which I’ve got some sort of lofty problem. Up here on my high horse, lifestyles and cultures tend to be locative or prescriptive, and I sometimes discredit those who seek change according to the “dreams” they think they “have.”That’s something that I don’t believe in, yet tend to think because of my own cultural biases.

I’m human. At least I can recognize my prejudices and try to change them.

I came into Cultural Sustainability from a nervous stint with critical and cultural theory, and I was uncomfortable with my own disconnect with the world. I wanted to find a way to make my nature into something positive.

Now, I feel that hopes and dreams, although possibly constructed, are still real. They can’t be ignored, but they can be changed. They can be developed through education. They can be analyzed for feasibility and potential satisfaction. But if you deconstruct them with such pragmatism, are they really dreams anymore? Or are they just goals?

A friend of mine recently gave me the book The Birth (and Death) of the Cool, a cultural commentary on coolness as it stemmed from the Jazz Age to commercialization. I haven’t read it yet or anything, and the few reviews I read online  were less than promising, but I don’t listen to reviews anyway. The thing about culture is that it’s actually quite impossible to document, so if I were to read a book like this, I would probably see it as a jumping off point for my own thoughts rather than something educational.

Anyway, the author, Ted Gioia, describes in an interview the inherent fault of coolness, which I can see as the same fault as what I was talking about above:

There is a certain neurotic quality to the cool lifestyle. Instead of being driven by deeply held internal values, it constantly must change to keep up with the crowd. – Ted Gioia

And so again I find myself drawn to the idea of values. It’s hard to respond to Gioia without having read his book yet, but I’d say that the quest for coolness is not devoid of values. It’s just that those who embark upon it value affirmation from others instead of themselves. That’s both common and stigmatized in our society. To sustain our Selves, we’ve got to allow our personal values to reemerge. And we’ve got to find ways not to sustain some things too. So basically we should just run the world my way.

Read the reference: “Interview with Ted Gioia, The Birth (and Death) of the Cool,” by Peter Wesley of BookPeople’s Blog.


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