We’ve been contemplating contingency in one of our meditation exercises. The idea here is, the more you deny your mortality, your finitude, your thrownness, the less connected you are to your own being and reality. (Well, not exactly. I’m taking liberties with vocabulary here and mapping existentialist thought onto meditative practice.)

Lana Bragina's Tarotkarten

I’ve begun thinking that the modern way of saying everything is connected is everything is contingent. To the modern ear, the former phrase sounds vaguely positive and non-threatening, while the latter conjures up all the anxieties of an era of neo-liberalism.

Everything is contingent suggests to me a language and vocabulary derived from project management and capitalism and state power rather than a spiritualized woo woo language that doesn’t connect to our modern, everyday life.

Everything is contingent speaks to the inherent volatility of the financial market and its human fallout.

Everything is contingent calls the logic of the N. American cult of individualism and the narrative of the American Dream into question.

Everything is contingent presents to me, a more accurate understanding of modern life in which our freedoms (of consumer choice and a seeming ahistoricity) mask our dependencies upon modern networks of power and commerce.

I’m starting to think that in addition to the unequal distribution of material resources and wealth, we can also think of modernity as a force that has restructured the distribution of contingency. That is to say, we in the west/democratic/modern/”developed” world (and within the west, there are further divisions) have attempted to decrease the contingency in our own lives by downloading risk into other parts of the world where people now live highly precarious lives leaving them far more vulnerable to factors like market fluctuations, weather patterns, epidemics, what have you. I’ll refrain from examples – and there are many devastating ones – for the sake of staying on topic and I’ll return to this idea of distributing contingency in a moment.

We have a hoarding mentality in which everyone is fighting over security, never feeling satisfied, nor safe. Perversely, the historically aberrant levels of predictability and stability in the postwar west have only resulted in a collective state of vague dissatisfaction, anxiety and ennui while others have born the brunt of the west’s quest for security and happiness. First world problems. Mid life crisis. Quarter life crisis. What kind of crisis are we in?

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Suzanne Treister's Alchemy series. Click on the image to see more.

It’s another birthday for the O. div and I think it’s high time that I resurrected this blog from its liminal archival status considering how many new posts I’ve written. In any case, O. div archival content is available on waybackmachine, the internet archive. There’s also a more specific reason why I’m prompted to continue blogging: our psychological and philosophical models of mind-body are still evolving and I’m of the mind to record my observations as these movements unfold. Below: continuing thoughts on modernity, cultural appropriation and new trends in psychology…

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I still think about trauma these days, although I tend to think more about the anxiety spectrum. There is afterall, something very fetishized or at least, detached about anxiety. Anxiety is not an emotion oriented towards something present, but rather, is future oriented. Anxiety is our fear of the future. It is a ghost fear, a fetish fear, it is at once less present yet more pervasive than fear itself. It is fear intellectualized, no, grotesquely magnified beyond reason by a reason derailed.

Modern society has no roots, no history, no grounding. We drift in a perpetual freefall, this strange sensation of exhilaration, panic, and numbed boredom, that tight feeling in our chests, the wind in our faces. The dream and the nightmare of the modern man, his most deepest desire and most fervent fear, that which lies below our perverse fusion of lust, anxiety and reason, is the belief that he might actually be falling into something…

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Original Title: of psychoids, modernity and trauma
Original Post Date: December 1, 2006 @ 5:14 pm

atomic-bomb

There’s a new body of discourse peaking over the horizon and it smells surprisingly numinous. It’s the intersection between modernity, science, psychology and suffering: trauma, or “traumatology” as it is sometimes called.

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