Saturday, November 20, 2010
The Power of New
There always something new around here. But no one can ever hope to know everything. Nevertheless one strives to do so. With all these new gadgets or ideas or events, one is afraid to lose touch. Maybe the secret is to get off the grid, to live in some wilderness and await the apocalypse. Or maybe wait for the zombies to come out. There is a strange strain of apocalyptic thinking that reverberates in recent science fiction. Recently there has been an influx of movies on zombies, alien invasion and end of the world scenarios. Japanese cinema also has this strain with their Godzilla movies. I read somewhere that this strange predilection is due to a reaction to the war, their devastating defeat (especially with the use of atomic weapons) and occupation.
The recent zombie series is based in Atlanta, Georgia – the new South of Jimmy Carter. The hit series ‘True Blood’ is based on Louisiana. Following the Japanese analogy, is the strain of apocalypse thinking due to the Civil War or the fall of the South? A lot of Southern writers seem to follow some Gothic genre like Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner. It maybe the terrible consequences of the War Between the States that affected the sub-consciousness of Southern folks. This is not a new idea. On the other hand, war often results in good images as well. The returning hero in Asian lore, driven by the return of Douglas McArthur to the Philippines perhaps. Or the cavalry to the rescue in those early Cowboy and Indians pictures. Or the eradication of slavery.
It’s this new understanding that attracts the nerd, to try to discover the hidden meaning of popular culture. There is always something new – a new discovery, idea or gadget. But one day this curiosity will wear itself out and one cannot keep up with the flow of information. Recent evidence indicates that multi-tasking and increasing stimuli affect the brain. The brain ages more if it is constantly bombarded with new ideas and concepts. Perhaps that is the reason why man ages in his mind – the constant effort to try and be relevant by mastering a new lifestyle or new ideas or gadgets. Maybe it is also the reason for bankruptcy or increasing debt as one wish to buy all these new stuff. Is it the noble desire to start anew? Like a re-birth or a resurrection or maybe like being a born-again Christian.
This is the power of the new but now the constant change comes at a blistering pace. It’s impossible to keep up and the only way to survive is to stop all stimuli and retreat to the wilderness or, at least, to some nature preserve to re-charge one’s mental batteries. Most people who live a long life are those mystics or sages who live in caves far away from society. It’s often in some place away from some fast paced city or society. Strange that the Japanese are some of the longest living people despite having one of the most fast paced, modern societies on Earth. But the Japanese are also one of those rare people who seem to have preserved their old culture well into modern life. Perhaps the Japanese are not deluded by the new and maybe their Zen philosophy and meditation is the answer.