Tag: modernity

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It turns out that Xi Jinping and I have something in common: we are both fans of Goethe’s Faust. Indeed, Xi is said to even know the work by heart. I wonder what aspects of Faust have been particularly meaningful to Xi, both personally and as relates to his current job as Dictator.  Here’s the […]

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Identity, Modernity, and the State

 

The chief problem of our time is not climate change. It is not police brutality. It is not Donald Trump’s tweeting. It is not even COVID-19. The chief problem of our time, rather, is the problem of identity. Modernity itself cannot answer what may be the most important question any individual could ask himself: Who am I?

The angsty teenager, then, is the modern person par excellence. She knows not who she is — or why she exists, or what she should be doing with her time. Nonetheless, she looks for answers to these questions, and she inevitably finds them in the plethora of subcultures and political movements served up by contemporary society on a silver platter. The social marketplace is as innovative as the economic one, and it provides no shortage of goods for the ravenous consumer. Predictably, the angsty teenager tries (and fails) to resolve her crisis by adopting one of these subcultural identities and conforming to its dictates. Perhaps she dons a spiked collar; perhaps she surrounds herself with healing crystals; perhaps she stretches her earlobes to the size of dinner plates or dyes her hair turquoise; perhaps she lops off her breasts, takes hormones, and rebrands herself as Steve. In all cases, she’s liable to say that she’s “expressing herself.” But what she’s really expressing is membership — membership in a little (or maybe a massive) ad hoc tribe with its own rituals and prescriptions. That is, after all, what it means to “express yourself.”

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The moral realm can be defined as that area where we determine not only what is but what human action ought to be. It is also notable for being perhaps the only part of human life in which we are able to weigh the options and use our free will to make a decision. Aesthetics are more […]

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The Savanna Theory of Happiness

 

shutterstock_271118789Want to be happier? Simple: If you’re smart, dump some of your friends and move somewhere else. From Wonkblog in the Washington Post:

Hell might actually be other people — at least if you’re really smart. That’s the implication of fascinating new research published last month in the British Journal of Psychology. Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University dig in to the question of what makes a life well-lived …

Kanazawa and Li theorize that the hunter-gatherer lifestyles [on the savanna] of our ancient ancestors form the foundation for what make us happy now. “Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors’ life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today,” they write.

“They Become Disgusted With our Manner of Life”

 

Castalia Ohio, bike ride of Labor Day 1998 - where a War of 1812 captivity story began.Some of us on Ricochet have been wondering how to teach people to prefer the liberty of free markets to the security of socialism. Others have been lecturing us about how capitalism has made life fantastically better for humans.

Each time one of these discussions comes up, I wish people here knew more about Indian captivity narratives — the true ones, that is. These stories have been popular in North America since the late 1600s, though not always been viewed as essential knowledge.

I learned of a new one today while working in the archives of the historical library in a small town in Texas. I’m following up on the three stagecoach owners who operated a line between Detroit and Chicago, and then all went to Texas following the 1832 Black Hawk War. It turns out that a descendant of one of the three, a woman who did a lot of research on her family history, was the granddaughter of a man who had spent his formative years as an Indian.

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In September 1843, Dickens started writing this little book, which seems to be our only modern Christmas myth. He was done in early December &, after deciding to pay for publication himself, he failed to make anything like the profit he expected. But the book has never been out of print & to it we […]

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What’s your opinion of consummation?  Perhaps I’m mistaken, but the general concept seems to have been normal worldwide for thousands of years before the rise of modern affluence and modern philosophies. The idea is that a couple is not married, despite any ceremony (civil, religious, or both), until they consummate the union in procreative sex.  […]

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This is a kind of quatrain & a kind of poem Kipling seems to have enjoyed writing. Here’s John Derbyshire reading it, which should be enough to charm you. I’m not sure he invented it, but I find it hard to believe anyone did it better. See The Conundrum of The Workshops, New lamps for […]

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