Looking at all the stories, perspectives and interpretations we’re taking in each day, how much is what might broadly be described as culture actually helping us fully understand reality and respond constructively within it? Is this a process that’s guiding us toward creating a better future or one that might be sweeping us along with its version of things into situations we might rather avoid? (Notes One)
If this whole conversation running alongside reality is to somehow serve in making things better – grasping the true nature of problems; seeing how to resolve or eradicate them – isn’t it important we understand what’s needed from us in response to it all? Are we to passively consume all that’s laid out there, letting it fill our souls with any ideas it sees fit, or might we be better off holding things at arm’s length?
How much are we viewing as examples for how we should act, rather than an exploration on more symbolic levels? Questionable patterns of behaviour perhaps trickling into society through the quiet emulation of modelled ways of being. Might it not be that instead of soothing, healing or guiding us culture sometimes acts to exacerbate our struggles? Lodging strange ideas in our psyche that play out through all our lives.
In many ways, this side of life seems to have drifted from something tightly controlled and regulated to being completely governed by our own interests. But, given the choice, do we know to choose between poison and medicine? Might we not burrow away into our concerns, effectively make identities out of them? Things that could’ve been processed and released becoming, instead, a way of life. (Notes Two)
Sometimes it seems we might even retreat from society into these other worlds: seeing ourselves, relating to others, understanding reality mainly in the light of whatever narratives connected the most. What would it mean to set up camp in some imaginative alternative to life, interpreting everything through that lens and responding as if it were real? The ideas of culture making their ways out into reality.
Instead of this conversation with all its stories serving to nourish and sustain society with meaningful reflections of itself, might we not get caught in prisons of our own making? Our own existence – our wounds, affinities and choices – all amplified to the point where we’re so far from one another, so extreme in the identity we’ve created, that the relationships of reality become hard to bear. (Notes Three)
We may be surrounded by all the options money and technology deem profitable, but if this process deals as much with society’s values as it does the makeup of our inner lives and relationships, are we wise to hand things over to those forces? The choices for how we live perhaps being dictated by concerns quite other than the question of whether they’re healthy.
If the ideas we have in mind become the frame through which we see and respond to life, what’s likely to come of all this?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Do we know what we’re doing?
Note 1: What’s the idea with culture?
Note 1: Learning from the past, looking to the future
Note 1: Literature that’s treating the soul
Note 2: It resonates, but should it be amplified
Note 2: Living your life through a song
Note 2: Emotion and culture’s realities
Note 2: Conversation as revelation
Note 3: All that we carry around with us
Note 3: The battlegrounds of our minds
Note 3: Might we lose our social muscles?
Note 3: Going along with what we see