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New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Sunday, November 26

cultural creatives

Always on the lookout for better ways to explain my "NewAge++" neologism, I was reminded yesterday of two books I have long meant to mention here. One of them is The Rise of the Creative Class... And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life. When I first spied this book at Barnes & Noble, I was especially interested because back when I worked at Carnegie Mellon University, I often went to lunch with it's author, Richard Florida, who was then a professor there. He now has a website called...

However, my interest in The Rise of the Creative Class has less to do with its specific contents than with the echo I got from it of a book that had appeared a couple years earlier: The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Aside from my gut hunch, their association is implicated by one of those Amazon "also bought" recommendations. That's circumstantial evidence of any fundamental relationship, to be sure, but dumb bots (in this case, the ones doing the recommending) are great at surfacing reader perceptions of similarity. And that's what I care about here. We are, you could say, reading between the lines between the lines. Call it the birth of a demographic. (Where is D.W. Griffith when you really need him?)

This is not to say that I believe this demographic necessarily reflects some actual state of some actual world. It is more to say that asking "Who's the fairest of them all?" has always been a great marketing ploy if the answer could made to look incontrovertibly like "YOU are!"

Sorry. I couldn't resist the graphical pun, though it has nothing to do with our theme -- unless we consider the United States Department of Justice to be an unsuspected coven of "cultural creatives." Which is probably an unwarranted s-t-r-e-t-c-h. And so, moving on...

The Cultural Creatives book also has its own website, which asks: "So who are the Cultural Creatives?" And it answers:

The Cultural Creatives are 50 million Americans who care deeply about ecology and saving the planet, about relationships, peace, social justice, and about authenticity, self actualization, spirituality and self-expression. Surprisingly, they are both inner-directed and socially concerned, they're activists, volunteers and contributors to good causes more than other Americans.
As you can see, I've highlighted a handful of my personal favorites.

There's also a page titled Current Writing that points to a PDF of Paul H. Ray (Ph.D.)'s work in progress, titled The New Political Compass. I downloaded it, naturally, and -- listed in a sidebar titled "Six Dimensions of the Wave of Change Analysis" -- found this:

Person-Centered: This dimension is largely unchanged from variables that originally created the Cultural Creatives classification. It is not especially New Age, but rather a mainstream concern for relationships, altruism and idealism, plus a concern for personal development over the whole adult lifecycle that includes both psychology and spirituality.

I have elsewhere written about a similar trope, to wit, "a little New Agey." Here are some prime examples, fresh off Google, verbatim...

In a similar spirit, the Cultural Creatives site contains a list of "not especially New Age" books for further reading. Among these is The Resurgence of the Real: Body, Nature, and Place in a Hypermodern World by Charlene Spretnak, which the page describes as follows...

Our globalized, "virtual," and hyper-rationalized world is built on denial, the author claims -- denial of the fundamental human connection to nature; a sense of place; and an understanding of the body. In this book, Spretnak explains why the fall of communism and the triumph of capitalism have not come close to establishing a new world order and how, until we face the failure of modernism, nothing will change.
Now, it so happens that I own that book. Following is a clip from the final chapter, "Embracing the Real" (p. 215), after reading which, I nearly threw up. It consists of an imagined dialogue between the author and William Morris, one of the founders of a little 19th century number known in some quarters as Medieval Modernism.
"When the bodymind suffers deep sadness, William, it's held in our tissue, in the cellular memory. And when people go through life... without being touched enough, the bodymind is deprived.... But your bodymind has deep reservoirs of energy, which will rise to flow like rivers through your fourteen channels ... if only the dams and blockage are cleared. Merely by soft pressure, merely by healing touch. May I do this for you ... after all you've done for us?"

Already the tension had gone out of his face. His eyes looked kind but tired, deeply tired. He said he wouldn't mind a little rest and lay down on the sofa... Then I knelt beside him and put my left hand behind his neck. I asked him to close his eyes and placed my other hand below his rib cage. I waited until his chi pulse felt equal to my right and left fingers. Then I moved my right hand to his knee and waited again to feel the balance. In this way I moved from point to point, increasingly assured that William would return to the ages eased.

And so, Dear Reader, with the midsummer night's breeze rising off the river, bringing us the fragrance of flowering vines, we communed ... with body, nature, and place.

emphasis in original

Does it sound to you, Dear Reader -- as it does to me -- like the author gave William Morris (1834-1896) a... handjob?

If you are among the purportedly 50 million "not especially New Age" types who get off on this sort of thing, then hey, buy yourself a cigar, pardner, because you (yes, YOU) are a Cultural Creative!

To quote Mr. Kurtz: "The horror, the horror!"



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