Examining Self Replicating Culture

Stuck in Political Yesterday

Sitting listening to David’s Grays- Hold On to Nothing and thinking about the current dichotomy which is America. Actually, we are not America, we are the U.S.A., because in Mexico and Canada, they are also American Citizens. But, to the average U.S. citizen we are America and around the world, we are thought of as America. In turn, we call it the American Dream, but, that has become so diluted from what our forefathers sought, it’s hard to know where the dream lies.

And, so, I arrive at my point– we are a nation stuck in yesterday. While you may feel you are not, let me assure you,

you are.” We are all stuck in little “yesterdays” which is defined by our age, gender, occupation, generation and subculture.

There has not been anything culturally significant happen in the last decade, maybe more. Music certainly hasn’t advanced. I do not see compelling literature being bantered around, nor are the movies outstanding. Matter of fact, we are stuck in the “me too, formula period.” If you doubt me, count the number of remakes. Those who might be once thought of as peer group leaders have very little to offer beyond the bizarre or extreme; bordering on psychological disorders.

Conservative ? ? ?


With a proclamation such as the proceeding, I am sure there are those who believe I too am stuck in yesterday. While you might want to consider me a conservative throwback. I am not even conservative. I do not want to go back to the “good ole days.” No, I am always looking for the cutting edge of things and thought. While you may believe tearing down the existing hypocrisy is cutting edge, I can guarantee you that anarchy is just as old as Cain and Abel, as is nihilism.

Things which are timeless are the sound of Bob Dylan’s voice or JS Bach’s Fugue in G Minor. Both belong to an era, and, are distinguishable from others before and since. However, this is not about art or music, but, attitude. Every generation believes it has a handle on the unique and creative genius. I consider the declaration of “special” as being a sign of mediocrity. Truly unique needs no help in separating itself from the herd. But, does one consider tying a thousand cats to a telephone pole and posting the video on YouTube art?

Out of the Box

As suggested earlier anarchy presents no credentials for “out of the box” thinking. Today, we find our country faced with segments which believe they possess the answers. If one group had the answers, we would see it. Truth stands out. One should keep that one phrase in mind when trying to shuffle through the debris which is called ‘media.’

Let me present a different experience. Remember, back to an ‘aha’ moment. No one needed to tell you, you just knew. Now multiply that my tens of millions and you have a presentation of truth.

It just makes sense.”

Thinking out of the box on a personal level can be terrifying. One might be faced with having to jettison everything they held dear. On a political level, I believe we, as a nation, no longer have the option to think outside the box. There are too many millions and too much power at stake to allow us as individuals to think for ourselves.

Kristoffer Kristofferson wrote “Me and Bobby Mcgee” which debuted as a Roger Miller hit. (But, I would bet the average person thinks of Kristofferson’s or Janis Joplin’s version when Bobby Mcgee is mentioned.) Kristofferson wrote other memorable songs, but Bobby McGee’s line-

‘freedom is just another word for nothing else to lose’

stands out as a statement which cannot be denied. How many movies, in the rebel genre, have we seen in which the hero says, ‘to heck with it’ and dashes into the proverbial fire? No one generation has a lock on rebelliousness nor desire for personal freedom, even though some claim so.

Freedom or Rebellion

How tied are we as a culture to the concept of freedom? Think about yourself, your life- how many times have you made decisions which might not have been in your best interest to retain your self proclaimed limits of personal freedom? We make hundreds of them in our lives and every day we make them in little ways. I believe it’s a part of our cultural nature to be rebellious to authority, but that does not mean we think outside the box. Actually, it means we are in the box.

If I were to decide to move to Las Vegas without a job, or a place to live, would that be thinking outside the box? Hardly. What if I needed change in my life. What if I thought about possibilities beyond moving down the street or changing my job or occupation? Am I outside the box? Not yet? What if I were willing to look at my lifestyle, my belief structure, the choices in my past? Then, I am working on thinking outside the box.

If the average person arrives at a crisis point in their lives they will make change- sometimes. Conscious choice to look beyond the front and back doors of our lives requires courage. Fear is the enemy of change, real change. Fear keeps us locked in the box. Change for change’s sake, in my opinion, is like buying a new suit or pair of shoes- window dressing. Change- real change, comes from within. We must seek a better way and be willing to leave the old ways behind.

Cultural Gridlock

Segments of what was American have surfaced as the traditional, but, subcultures have replaced the mainstream. Subculture has become the culture. Without singling out certain subcultures, in my opinion, it is best to question how subcultures serve us as a nation? Being a part of a gang can provide a feeling of personal security, as well as a sense of belonging. What happened to belonging to the whole versus the part?

The creation of subcultures, probably came from a sense of alienation. First, there were those who wanted to create subcultures just like the guys in high school who wanted to start gangs when I was young. They are subculture instigators. Today, I ask,

do they want to support a subculture or power?”

None of the guys who wanted to start gangs in high school suggested to me there would be elections for the leader. I never belonged to a gang. My time was well occupied and time with the gang wasn’t available. Besides small town gangs are not normally going anywhere big, so being a member was a loser thing.

Today, we see subcultures as the norm in schools. For many being a part of a subculture is a survival system during adolescence. We can debate the pros and cons, but, let’s settle on- they exist and move along. If we as youth realize we must join a segment to survive, why would we abandon that philosophy (security blanket) when we go out into the world? My group was “jocks.”

As with the previous look at “out of the box”; subculture does not offer members a chance to think outside the box. That’s what makes subcultures such a great security blanket, everything’s already decided, just “follow the rules.” Here I ask,

Is that about individualism and freedom or security?”

Are not subcultures a form of restriction? To belong, we must conform. If we challenge the subculture, we are no longer accepted. As were those who challenged the tribes, we become banished. Those guidelines keep tribal, gang, and subculture members fearful of rejection and isolation. After all, groups give us an identity, sense of belonging and security. Giving that up to be our own person requires far more courage than most humans can muster. Only in a crisis will we even contemplate going against the grain.

Subcultural Pawns

Regardless of how avant garde we may believe we are- if we lock ourselves into a subculture, we are pawns. And, we are restricted in our options. Is that freedom? Even the most liberal or progressive restrict their thinking to inside the defined mainframe. Libertarians might hope their unrestricted governance qualifies them for outside the box, but, their lassiez-faire attitudes fit neatly inside a definable box. As do radicals such as The Invisible Committee sit inside a box.

Wrapping this up with a simplistic view of life, when chopping wood, we should be focused solely on the act of chopping. Our entire existence should be pointed to the process. At that point in time, we set all else aside for that one function of mind and body. Can I do it? For brief periods, I can muster the focus. After those experiences, I understand the world expands much beyond me, the axe and the wood. I can see the outside of the box from there.

The question remains- will we as a nation voluntarily reach the point of rethinking our subcultural biases and attachment to “our” decade? 

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