"That's the trouble with everybody - you're all so bored. You've had nature explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the living body explained to you and you're bored with it, you've had the universe explained to you and you're bored with it, so now you want cheap thrills and, like, plenty of them, and it doesn't matter how tawdry or vacuous they are as long as it's new as long as it's new as long as it flashes and fuckin' bleeps in forty fuckin' different colors." (Mike Leigh, Naked, 1993)
Further progress will happen when, perhaps due to a collapse of capitalism or due to peak oil (due to circumstances beyond anyone's control), mankind is forced away from unbridled consumption, advertising (which fuels it), and mass media (which depends on advertising for its survival).
If this happens, and the engine of modern distractions gets rickety, people will be forced to turn to deeper and non-market-driven distractions (books, conversations, ideas, politics) and perhaps their intellectual faculties may become stronger, more knowing, and wider and deeper.
Then we might see an epidemic of depression and neuroses. Traditional immersions will become cringe-worthy. People will scoff at love marriages the way they now scoff at arranged marriages, and kids will be seen as a liability to be avoided. "I want to live my way."
Some say that is already underway in developed countries. If the Mad Cow disease was due to cows eating their own entrails, the Mad Man epidemic will be due to men continuously and fruitlessly being aware of their existence and aware of their mortality and their insignificance, but unable to go back to immersion. Eating their own thoughts in the absence of communion.
When fundamentalists hate Valentine's Day, or beat up girls drinking in a bar, understand that it is one generation of distractions versus an older one's anchors of meaning.
Peter Zapffe writes in The Last Messiah:
Any culture is a great, rounded system of anchorings, built on foundational firmaments, the basic cultural ideas. The average person makes do with the collective firmaments, the personality is building for himself, the person of character has finished his construction, more or less grounded on the inherited, collective main firmaments (God, the Church, the State, morality, fate, the laws of life, the people, the future). The closer to main firmaments a certain carrying element is, the more perilous it is to touch. Here a direct protection is normally established by means of penal codes and threats of prosecution (inquisition, censorship, the Conservative approach to life).The older anchors will be uprooted anyway, you cannot prevent that. But the distractions can also only last so long. There are only so many ways to show penetration in a porn film. James Cameron is already on to sex amongst aliens, but you can't deny it is becoming desperately hard to invent new distractions for an increasingly impatient mass of humanity.
A teacher of the Krishnamurti Foundation is on to the problem
The attempt to overcome boredom through novelty, through sense-stimulation gives rise to a vicious spiral. As every 'new' programme stales, as a given level of sense stimulation fades, the inner psychological demand for ever increasing sense-stimulation becomes more and more insistent till one's being cries out for satisfaction. TV networks are sensitive to this and over the last fifteen years or so, the extent and degree of violence and explicit sexuality has grown exponentially.Oh, but what is his solution?
Can we once again develop this ability to savour every moment of life with our entire being - whatever this moment brings, whether it is washing dishes or eating a chocolate pudding? Can we drop the discriminating mind which says"this activity is insignificant, that other activity is of great importance"? Can we live in the moment, because the past is irretrievably gone and the future mere phantom? Can we live completely in the 'here and now' and thus recover that child-like quality which has been 'educated' out of us?No Sir, you cannot. Not without extinguishing a large part of your mind and intellect by, say, use of drugs or alcohol.
Once you and Time have cultivated a child's brain to be aware, to plan and to foresee, to be highly discriminating, to be highly developed, to be a man's brain, you cannot now demand that it go to sleep and just be "here and now", that it be a child again. That is a cruel joke you seem to be playing, Sir, you, who are a teacher! And assuming the graduates of your school are able to be "here and now" by some sleight of hand, who will build the bridges and who will operate the InterNIC?
Irving Howe said, "The knowledge which makes us cherish innocence makes innocence unattainable."
How can a man be a child again? Can you again believe in Santa Claus? Can you, having played the stock market, play Ludo for hours and hours and be content, like you used to as a child? Well maybe you can, to prove a point, but have you seen the complexity of computer games recently? They don't even fit on a double layer DVD.
As I said earlier, the recognition of this malaise is there, there are 16 million echoes around the world: "Mind is the enemy."
People are furiously trying to keep it quiet, silent, un-judging, filled with belief and faith. But there are 239 million echoes of the others who have given up on that pathway and are trying to numb themselves with Snake, and 1.5 billion more echoes of those who can't be bothered to even twiddle their fingertips.
It's not their fault. What would you have them rather do? Spread the word?