The is a deep-seated nostalgia for the absolute. That nostalgia—so profound, I think, in most of us—was directly provoked by the decline of Western man and society, of the ancient and magnificent architecture of religious certitude.
A true mythology will develop its own language, its own characteristic idiom, its own set of emblematic images, flags, metaphors, dramatic scenarios. It will breed its own body of myths. It pictures the world in terms of certain cardinal gestures, rituals, and symbols.
The major mythologies constructed in the West since the early nineteenth century are not only attempts to fill the emptiness left by the decay of Christian theology and Christian dogma. They are themselves a kind of substitute theology. They are systems of belief and argument which may be savagely antireligious, which may postulate a world without God and may deny an afterlife, but whose structure, whose aspirations, whose claims on the believer, are profoundly religious in strategy and in effect.
For Claude Lévi-Strauss, myths are, quite simply, the instruments of man’s survival as a thinking and social species. It is through myths that man makes sense of the world, that he experiences it in come coherent fashion, that he confronts its irremediably contradictory, divided, alien presence.
Man is enmeshed in primal contradictions between being and non-being, male and female, youth and age, light and dark, the edible and the toxic, the mobile and the inert. He cannot, says Lévi-Strauss, resolve these formidable, clashing antitheses by purely rational processes. He is at either pole of conceivable time, confronted with the mystery of his origins and then confronted with the mystery of his extinction. Chaos is co-existent with seemingly exquisite symmetries. Myths alone are able to articulate these universal antinomies, to find figurative explanations for the divided situation of man in nature
Like never before, today at this point in the twentieth century, we hunger for myths, for total explanation: we are starving for guaranteed prophecy.
==Nostalgia for the Absolute (CBC Massey Lecture) (George Steiner)
The successful meme, like any parasite, has barbs with which to prevent the would-be rationalist from shaking it out of his system. Only those will be saved, says the religious meme, who have faith. And what is faith? It is a blind and unquestioning conviction, an absolute willingness to harbor the meme forever, never trying to dislodge it from your gullet. Spit me out, says the meme, and you will tempt a fate worse than death.317 No, memes do not plot their conquests. They do not have to. In the manner of all true replicators, memes work automatically to resculpt as much of this lowly world as they can possibly grasp, and they have an invaluable ally. Memes fan out
==The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History (Bloom, Howard)
“to keep them in perpetual childhood: it is well content that the people should rejoice, provided they think of nothing but rejoicing. For their happiness such a government willingly labors, but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains, but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”
Under this regime, the machinery of representative government will not avail to call the citizens back to autonomy and self-rule: “It is indeed difficult to conceive how men who have entirely given up the habit of self-government should succeed in making a proper choice of those by whom they are to be governed; and no one will ever believe that a liberal, wise, and energetic government can spring from the suffrages of a subservient people.”
==Democracy’s Dangers & Discontents: The Tyranny of the Majority from the Greeks to Obama (Thornton, Bruce S.)
In a world devoid of absolutes, of truths, how do we exist? We in America satiate ourselves with amusements and follow the easiest path to a void that is ultimately filled with lies, falsehoods and relativistic pabulum that leaves us empty and prone to the mind control and brainwashing of the State and corporatocray. The Islamic State and it’s many ideological siblings is one way for those adrift to find purpose, no matter how irrational or evil that may be.
What do we have left in America and the West? Nothing but planted ideas and visions that are not derived from our own senses or self-will, for our minds have been closed for us by others, by the propaganda of the State and the lies and myths that are reinforcing to the perpetuation of the rule by the increasingly distant, transnational power and wealth elites.
A world without absolutes is an inherently destructive one. Moral and ethical relativity and politically correct multiculturalism are the memes of control where the people do not have the capacity to question and are easily filled with diverting scenes and crisis that have the shelf life of a banana in the heat. It is, in reality, a world perfect for the total rapid fire chaos that disorient and numb a people so that tyranny can slip in unnoticed until it is far too late. As it is now.
The actions of truly ignorant thugs against the unjustified use of force by the American police state does not make these angry beasts heroes, nor does it remotely raise them to the level of almost sanctification through the voices of the liberal media. These ghettos of despair have been simmering now for generations not because of racism, but from the destruction of God, church, family, father and all the moral and ethical absolutes that these once imbued not only into the black communities, but in us all.
This is why what is happening in Baltimore is linked to what is happening on Capitol Hill at the Supreme Court today. America in 2015 is a culture that defines the good as whatever the individual says it is. Justice Kennedy himself told us so in Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life”). I was trying to explain to my kids on the drive into the city late this morning what is at stake in the gay marriage arguments, and I said that it has to do with what is the meaning of marriage, and what is the meaning of the human person. In the end, I said, it comes down to whether or not there is a standard of truth outside of ourselves to which we must conform, or whether or not the body and the world of matter is inert material upon which we can impose our will.So it comes down more or less to the same arguments that pitted the Scholastics against the Nominalists seven centuries ago. The end game is the evaporation of Christianity as anything more than therapeutic sentimentality. We’re living through this now.