Monday, October 30, 2006

Sex in the City--Modern Culture Uncovered

Blosser finds a gem in an article by Stephen LaTulippe. It's long-ish so I'll give you the good parts. When and if Blogger returns to normal, I'll provide the link.

The article began with LaTulippe describing his first impression of seeing the HBO TV show, Sex and the City, how he found it simultaneously brilliant and horrifying. To give the Devil his due, he says, the script, acting, cinematography are amazing, and the comedy truly hilarious.

"But brilliance of production aside, Sex and the City has a number of profound socio-political nuances that dovetail with an issue I’ve been kicking around for quite some time; namely, that the Western world is experiencing the final stages of a cultural struggle between two radically different versions of social organization (which I call "organic culture" and "post-modernism"). This struggle is the single dominant issue of our age, and it defines a variety of conflicts both within Western civilization and between it and other civilizations, stretching from the relentless expansion of our government to our misbegotten "war on terror."

"Sex and the City represents the post-modern paradigm. The thirty-something single women living in New York City live a life that is, says LaTulippe, while all too common today, perhaps unprecedented in human history, particularly for women. They are completely uprooted and homogenized, with no discernable family connections. They have no religious convictions. They wander around Manhattan, eating in chic restaurants, maxing-out their credit cards in fashionable boutiques, and engaging in a bewildering variety of casual sexual relationships. Their lives are more like those of animals than anything fully human, dominated by impulses and sensations rather than intellect and spirit, indulgence rather than purpose. They have no reverence for the past and no regard for the future, living only in the present. Even more disturbingly, says LaTulippe, their lifestyle has a "spooky passivity" to it, "a sense of slavery" to their vices: "If someone takes them to a swanky Thai restaurant, they’ll eat. If someone hands them a martini, they’ll drink. If a handsome guy appears, they’ll copulate." This, in effect, is the sum total of their lives, illustrating the fact that post-modernism isn't really a culture, but an anti-culture, or a parasite upon what remains of a past culture in the absence of any present culture.

Post-modernism, in LaTulippe's view, suffers from three major flaws: (1) ethical relativism, (2) auto-genocide, and (3) the death of the sacred. LaTulippe developes his analysis at these points more extensively in a political direction than I am able to give space to here, but here are a few highlights.

(1) Ethical relativism. Here LaTulippe looks at foreign policy and domestic policy, focusing, in particular, on the financial scandals that have come to light in connection with the latter. These have as their common root, he suggests, "the amoral quest for the unearned, which is perhaps the final common denominator of our entire political system." Post-modernism, he says, is locked into a "dysfunctional synergy with statism," in which each feeds the other, and they are sucking all of us down with them.

2) Auto-genocide. "Post-modern culture treats children as an expensive and peculiar hobby, something like a curious fashion statement. Children are, after all, expensive, messy, and they interfere with an active dating life. And if children are seen as a mere fashion accessory or an emotional indulgence, then one will do just as well as two (and much better than three or four)," writes LaTulippe. This attitude is reflected in the precipitously falling birthrates of those countries that suffered erstwhile panic attacks from fear of "population explosions."

3. The Death of the Sacred. Post-modernism is this-worldly, recognizing nothing beyond the immediate, concrete world. It has no higher aspirations. It offers no spiritual sustenance. "If a man has food stamps, a welfare check, and a place in a government housing project, it believes he has everything he could possibly need or want. (Actually, that is true only as far as the commoners are concerned. For the post-modern elites, they require exotic ethnic cuisine, cheap immigrant household labor, and a custom Maybach...but this is a difference in degree, not kind.)" Whatever one's income level, however, the shift in frames of reference is that from the Sistine Chapel and Bach's requiem mass to the vulgar creations of contemporary cultural nihilism

This is epigrammatically contained in the remark by Russell Kirk.

Overall, these are insightful observations.

And nothing to be pleased about, either.


Anonymous said...

Your critique/condemnation of postmodernism is articulate and succinct. I used to wonder how it is that "the others" (like on the LOST t.v. program) could be so different than me, but more importantly, why I could be "an other" to your subgroup.

In perusing other items on your blog I would guess that you are conventional, traditional, conformist, ethnocentric, absolutistic and mythic in orientation to a "power god".

I am less conventional, traditional or conformist, although I am a psychological professional who has shiney shoes, coordinated dress, married, monogomous, etc.

I strive to be more world-centric than ethno- and I am not a Christian. I practice Buddhism, have no delusion that anything I may have learned on my spiritual journey is of value to anyone else, and certainly acknowledge and honor the beliefs of anyone who engages with a teacher or a group that is called to a higher relationship with self and others.

If you interested in a response to your postmodernism piece I will check back by the page and read your response.


Dad29 said...

Actually, the critique is from Mr. LaTulieppe via Blosser's blog.

But I think his remarks are spot on.

Your assessment of my thinking patterns is about right, although I'd quibble with 'conventional'--in the sense that my endorsement of LaTulieppe's views is simply NOT 'conventinal.' Further, I only wear the shoes-and-ensemble stuff when I absolutely HAVE to--rarely in my office.

I'd also quibble with the term "power god." There is only one God for us Roman Catholics, but yes, He is quite powerful. The term we use is 'omnipotent.'

My only quibble with the article itself is its declaration that we are actually IN a 'postmodern' world. I disagree because it's clear that there have always been two worldviews (as Kirk affirms.) Calling one of them 'postmodern' is handy, but not entirely accurate--your spiritual journey has likely affirmed that, as well.

Fidei Defensor said...

I have seen this show a few times, and I too found it to be (unintentionally) a harsh critique of the post-modern world. It is sad how many girls my age love this show though and think those women are living a wonderful life.

Brother James said...

Wow, he really nailed it. Now, what do we do about it? Just not watching it doesn't seem enough, as that strategy is more like turning a blind eye to evil.

FD brings up a good point, leading to another, about the danger of caricature. We can make something look over-the-top silly, but people need to be smart to catch the critique. Otherwise, people delight in the humor of it, and end up perpetuating, or even furthering, the sad state originally mocked.