The title of this post comes from a book I’m rereading, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire by Morris Berman. Most of my e-books are on Kindle, but during the years when I worked at Google, I started buying from the Google Play store, which means I have two different digital libraries. Sadly, Google Play’s search function is apparently broken because I couldn’t find Dark Ages America in my library by searching for Berman’s name, even though I’d already bought it. The book showed up in the search, but as something to purchase.
Dark Ages America was originally published in 2005, so a few of the author’s complaints seem a bit quaint, replaced by something even worse. Instead of having to deal with rude people talking loudly on their cellphones, we now have zombies staring at their screens, which, while less distracting, is more unnerving.
This book is bleak, but has the correct diagnosis of the problem. Uncontrolled consumer capitalism combined with a lack of care for “living a good life” has turned us into mindless zombies who have become unable to meaningfully connect with others in the real world in the way that previous generations did. Instead of “focal practices”, a term Berman credits to the American philosopher Albert Borgmann’s 1984 book Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life, which are activities that center and illuminate our lives, combining body and soul in harmony, such as playing musical instruments in a group, we’ve become captured by the “device paradigm”, where we listen to music by ourselves recorded and played back by machinery.
There’s nothing wrong with technology when it’s in harmony with our better natures and helps us to lead better, more authentic lives, but that’s not what we’re seeing in the world today, is it? We’re seeing people living artificial lives, mediated by corporations who supply, for a fee, artificial substitutes for real-world experiences. This is why I’m so harsh on Disney, but they’re not alone.
I’ve been a little sheepish about writing so much about the paranormal and the occult, because it’s a new subject for me to be talking about publicly, especially from the pro-psychic side. I was swayed towards the “consciousness is primary” worldview by the sheer weight of the successful remote viewing experiments and extremely detailed near-death experiences and YouTube personalities who have channels dedicated to interviewing NDEers, remote viewers, and the more scientifically-minded pursuers of this new paradigm. Donald Hoffman is particularly impressive to me, intellectually speaking, as is Stephan Schwartz.
But there’s a dark side to the New Age and that’s when it leads people into solipsism and wishful thinking, which I discussed in my last post in the context of “psychic healing” as a fatal substitute for science-based medical modalities. The material world still exists. The germ theory of disease is still operative.
Conspiracy theorist David Icke has gone completely off the deep end, even more than his usual “shapeshifting reptilians” self, in stridently proclaiming that bacteria aren’t real, viruses aren’t real, parasites aren’t real, you can heal yourself through wishful thinking, but oh, by the way, don’t get “the jab” because vaccines are part of the Illuminati plot to poison you. I’m not sure why you can’t psychically heal yourself from being “vaccine damaged”, but logical consistency isn’t a strong suit of these people. And if someone else dies of untreated cancer because they thought homeopathy or some kooky “protocol” (they love that word because it makes them sound scientific) would cure them, that’s the other person’s lack of faith. “But I can cure my cancer that way,” the solipsist says.
The conspiracy theory subculture is also big on hating transgender people now, which is really discordant with their “do what feels good” philosophy. I think it’s an infantile rejection of everything that corporate consumerism is doing, such as marketing to LGBTQ people and writing news stories about their life experiences and the medical treatments available, in pursuit of an infantile narcissism and a hostile rejection of anything that “allopathic” medicine offers. “Allopathic” is a buzzword that homeopaths came up with to dismiss real doctors as “only treating the symptoms”, when in fact it’s homeopathy that explicitly “only treats the symptoms” using sympathetic magic (diluting a substance representing the symptom to be treated, until no molecules remain in the “medicine”) and has no clue about the underlying cause of any illness.
TikTok is getting a lot of grief for being the most overt example of capitalism leading humanity to ruin through the device paradigm as a substitute for real human interactions, including indoctrinating children into accepting whatever is most popular at the moment, without taking any time for reflection or critical thinking. Instead, everything must be a reaction to an external event, mediated by electronic devices. No wonder people are choosing to buy flip phones.
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