Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Culture of "Me"

As usual, Dreher has insights, here from Philip Rieff:

...If culture is that systems of symbols and values that serve to bind human action and channel savage passions and impulses into socially constructive ends, then a culture that prizes the fulfillment of desires -- and not merely socially approved desires, but individual desires -- is destructive of the idea of culture in principle.

It is helpful to recall that the term "culture" is based on "cult." In other words, what one worships determines one's 'culture.' Thus, basing 'culture' on fulfillment of individual desires is essentially self-worship.

Moreover, in a culture (anti-culture) that locates human identity and dignity in an individual's desires, to disapprove of those desires is in some deeply felt way to negate the dignity of that individual. People in such a culture will tend to take it personally if their desires are criticized. Rieff predicted decades ago that the culture of the future -- the one we're living in now, as a matter of fact -- would be marked by non-judgmentalism, emotionalism, and a cultural imperative to help people live as they wish to live (versus how they "ought," which is a meaningless concept in such a culture) without feeling bad about it. The therapeutic culture.

The foundation of genuine culture must be transcendent. That's the other half of B-16's Regensburg lecture--the half which warned the materialistic (self-worshipping) West that its detachment from God was leading to trouble.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

You mean the part of the lecture that didn't get reported by the MSM?