Living in the contemporary world, one experiences a plethora of postmodern paradigms. We have available varieties of world views and we can observe ourselves shifting between them both as participants and as spectators. This is not necessarily a situation which provides any greater degree of freedom than maintaining a particular point of view over long periods of time. It all depends upon the quality of one’s experience, of course. That being said, however, some paradigms may be preferred over others.
Perhaps the most pervasive paradigm of modernism has been the one officially ascribed to the 18th century: Romanticism. This paradigm – an essentially emotional neo-Platonism – is the one that fuels the majority of our fantasies and realities, even today. Variants of Romanticism form the core of our religious/political/theatrical modes of experience.
The other, terribly significant worldview that holds sway today is Existentialism. Initially, a thoroughly intellectual enterprise spawned by a revulsion for the restraints and excesses of inustrial and post-industrial civilization, popular forms of existentialist philosophy permeate contemporary worldviews. These operate as pragmatic neo-Aristotelian attempts to accept the unfeasibility of our Romantic desires and to focus our attention, instead, on the material world.
There are many worldviews, of course, from the atavistic urges of our somatic selves to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, I suppose. And because we are alive in an era with the entire global range of worldviews available at once, things get confusing. Contemporary experience conflates worldviews and shifts paradigms in the blink of a photon receptor.
In general though, it is quite apparent that many of our fantasies, dreams, realities, entertainments, and personal stories are played out in predictable narratives that are pinioned between the poles of Romanticism and Existentialism. This is the predicament of postmodern humanity.
It is remarkable how the philosophies of mankind are reducible to forms of idealism on the one hand and materialism on the other. This is what is behind the Romanticism/Existentialism discussion above. The world’s religious traditions are essentially idealistic, while scientific worldviews are man-made marvels of materialism. Many of the rest consist of ad hoc combinations or collages of socio-cultural perspectives.
It can be said however, that we are experiencing a planetary shift toward some new paradigmatic view. As I dedicate my work to the aesthetic dimension of this effort, it is somewhat rewarding to see things on the verge of changing within my lifetime. But it is not so clear that the change occurs…at least, without considerable additional work.
Welcome to another day of work on the new paradigm. Future entries will illuminate some of the signs that may indicate our position on the path…
Image: “New Paradigm 111010″ by Tullio DeSantis, ink on paper and digital image, 2010.
YouTube Video: “Time Lapse from Space – Earth” by Oregon State University