How do we move beyond rebellion?
Implicit in this question – if it is to be anything but futile – is another,
How do we keep from cycling back around? Only to end up that much further down the same barren path?
What seems missing as each cycle repeats could be described as letting go of the irrelevant. We begin to leave the status quo as we accumulate critiques of its dead-ends and incoherent assumptions. What drives us on to return, to regenerate a new version of the same old thing, is our reluctance to let go of our fascination with what our insights have shown us to be irrelevant. We get stuck in being against.
Being against what we find around us has become the standard reflex of our age. We define our selves – our muddled view of selves as roles to be played – by our disappointments. There is a faction of one multiplied by our billions. Each of us is unique in our particular dislikes. The only thing we share is dissatisfaction.
This drives the cult of the new. When we reduce everything to the test of whether it prickles our impatience with what we know or indulges our vague curiosity for something unfamiliar – perhaps this will pique our interest? Not suck? In the vernacular…. – all that matters is that something not be old.
Innovation. What does it mean? It boils down to churning out something that is not old. The pursuit of novelty.
We are and allow ourselves to remain stuck at the business end of disappointment.
What does the Enormity of our predicament bring us in this regard? How is this moment of clarity presenting itself?
When the sheer accumulation of the spoils of our disappointments has reached such levels of absurdity we just might discover the limits of our attachment to our resentments. At this point we begin to see all that has proven itself to be irrelevant.
What is the significance of irrelevancy?
Let’s distinguish between two uses. There is the claim of irrelevancy,
This is a defensive posture attempting to redirect fear into anger and pushing attention away from our own feelings of inadequacy.
The other use is a quiet realization that something just does not matter.
The first draws attention away from our own situation and attempts to focus on just what it claims to deny. “Don’t look at me! Look at what I demand is irrelevant!” It is incoherent. It draws our attention from the one thing we can directly influence – our attitude – and forces it back on what it claims to deny.
The second just lets go.
What sort of things show themselves to be irrelevant today?
Perhaps the most significant answer to this question is in the scope of irrelevancy today. The mind boggles! A comprehensive list would have to be encyclopedic in length! Let’s just skip across a few salient highlights.
Existing institutions. Their failures are not the result of their corruption. No matter that they are incorrigibly corrupt. They fail because they are built on foundational assumptions that have themselves proven to be irrelevant.
We can fall into a double-bind here. Cataloging irrelevancies itself slips easily from letting go to embracing dissatisfaction with what we see as irrelevant. The point is to treat the irrelevant as obstacles. Presented with obstacles we have a choice. We can focus on what we dislike about them. What they prevent us from doing, etc.…. Or, we can train our attention to look past them.
There is a cycle in the way perception and action work. Boyd’s OODA Loop comes to mind. There is a moment when defining an obstacle is valuable. Obstacles require our attention to break into awareness. It’s so easy to lose track of the fact that there is more we do not perceive than ever penetrates perception. It’s mostly blind-spot! So, we need to be able to attend to an obstacle. To name what impedes us.But, the next step is just as essential. If our perception remains dominated by obstacles we have no attention available to recognize the spaces between.
What happens next is a matter of insight – just as naming the impediment was at its stage in the cycle. A landscape dominated by barriers fades away, It is replaced with a landscape of clear spaces, potential paths without the same sort of obstruction. For us to proceed we need to get to this point and then test these perceived spaces to see what other sorts of obstacles might block them. It is in this way that we find paths.
Right now, our greatest obstacle is stuck-ness within an ever more elaborate appreciation of how terrible our obstacles are. In our exhaustion – exhaustion is the inevitable result of sticking to any one thing too long – we lose our capacity to do anything more than react impatiently, wishing for something, anything, new to deliver us from our condition. We are stuck chasing salvation.
Salvation is irrelevant.
The death of God is irrelevant. Just as the God of patriarchy Himself.
Hating complexity is irrelevant.
Fearing the unknown….
Discounting meaning when we find it….
We can’t get on with it – life – until we let go.
The new is irrelevant. And so is the old.
Dissatisfaction, disappointment… all irrelevant.
What’s tricky is that the dominant conditioning inundates us with clamoring after maintaining our attention imprisoned in irrelevancies. Counting on our exhaustion to keep us within its mores.
“It’s important that cars stop for school buses!” So much appears self-evident. “We don’t want distracted young children hit crossing the road!”
So a law was passed. Flashing lights installed. Then an extra attendant. Then strobe lights….
This is what happens when we fixate on an obstacle. What starts out as an easy to define optimum state: fewer deaths and injuries; becomes a distraction from a deeper necessity: that we acclimate ourselves to a world where threats cannot be eliminated or excised by fiat. Drivers are numbed to the subtle and useful warnings of danger. Children are raised in bubbles and then let out into the world to binge drink and do themselves in with abandon at some arbitrary age of competency.
Left and Right are equally and jointly irrelevant!
We are surrounded by irrelevancy! What has been a burden can become a guide. Again, it’s the way we break through any futility. We disabuse ourselves of all the illusions holding us to the futile path and this frees us to let go.
The interesting stuff is what can happen after….