Wednesday, April 26, 2006

"It's no big deal" -- the religion of cool part II

This is part II of last weeks "it's no big deal" -- the religion of cool part I

I have offered the definition of Primalism as a world view (see a primer on primalism). Now, from time to time in my writing, I will refer to Primalism as an active noun for the sake of clarity and convenience. I will say things like "Primalism has..." "Primalism understands...", treating it as a sentient force that comprises a) the beliefs and practices therein, b) the individuals who follow those beliefs, and c) the gravitational force that Primalism has a social movement that is greater than the sum of its parts. I do so, in part, because individual Primalists on the street are usually not aware of all that comprises Primalism and because Primalists themselves treat the "times"--the social phenomenon greater than the sum of its parts--as a "collective mind".

As I said in my lust makes the world go 'round, Primalism is the unconscious repository for many people's latent drive for meaning who do not otherwise believe that "meaning" exists as a real thing outside of feelings. This latent drive for meaning contains the latent need that people have to organize life according to some ethical system that is larger than themselves. To the extent that Primalism serves this need, people become bonded to the ethical imperatives that flow from following the wisdom of the collective id. Here, the wisdom of the collective id is understood as the "times" wherein new forms of id expressions are being negotiated into the fabric of social acceptance. I refer to these id desires and expressions that are in the process of being woven into the fabric of social acceptance as the "emergent id".

In this context, Primalism has a value for each individual to experience the primal feeling of expressing his/her individual self ("it's all about you"). Primalism, however, places a premium on each individual giving deference to the collective id so that others throughout the collective can have their id based individuality too. Individuals within the collective are expected to protect and nurture each new id experience that is being woven into the fabric of social acceptance -- this, so that those who are discovering their individuality in the new id experience can have as much individuality as those who have found their individuality in id experiences that were ratified in earlier "times".

As such, Primalists understand themselves as being part of a matrix, a social economy of individuality, that maximizes id based individuality across all the members of the collective. Here, each individual Primalist within the collective needs to do a lot of "fitting in" and suppressing of his individual judgement ("who's to say?") to make it work. It is on this basis that Primalism has the ethical imperative for an individual to fit-in to the "times" in such a way that he/she does not present a threat to the emergent id. In this way, Primalism values the individuality of one's id but not individuality of one's mind.

The Primalist idea of being "cool" is based on this value system. To be "cool" is to experience one's id at the expense of one's mind so that one's individual id does not conflict with wisdom of the collective id. In this way, Primalism is a secular attempt to turn the collective id into a sort of tao. Exploring only a similarity in ideas, An enlightened Primalist has "blown out" his mind to follow the collective id in a manner similar to that of a Zen Buddhist who has "blown out" his mind to follow the Tao. In the secular, Primalist sense, to be cool is to be enlightened. Primalism, is, of course, vastly different from Zen Buddhism in that it does not involve the "blowing out" of primal desires. Rather, Primalism is an ethical system that works upward taking for granted that society is made up of self-aggrandizing people with churning desires who all follow their id, even if they don't admit it. In Primalism, people submit to the Primalist ethics, believing it to be a system of "checks and balances" on their own self-aggrandizing and on the self-aggrandizing of others.

An individual who is bonded to the Primalist idea of being "cool" will have his/her latent drive for meaning bonded to the mandate to advance the Primalist ethical system as a superior ethical system above all others. As such, Primalists are apologists for the Primalist system of "checks and balances" on individual self-aggrandizing in the face of those who would pose a threat to its assumptions. Being an apologist for Primalism as such involves protecting the emergent id from any threats that come from someone asserting their own individual wisdom above the wisdom arrived at by the "times"(see WWAD and "don't judge me").

To the extent that Primalism is a post-articulate belief, Primalists consider the very act of argumentation to be a sign of regression out of individuals' allegiance to the collective id. For this reason, Primalists very often don't construct arguments when faced with criticism as much as they rely on slogans that encapsulate Primalist ideas. In this way, a Primalist confronts criticism that is threatening to the emergent id by asserting what he/she considers to be the ethical superiority of Primalism as something that is beyond argument.

A Primalist has arrived at the idea that a thing's normalcy is a status that is granted to it because it has been ratified by the collective id. As such, the fact that something is normal is reason enough to let it be left alone and protected from contradicting opinions. A Primalist often will employ a variety of slogans to enforce this idea. Sex, fashion and money are examples of powerful things -- indissoluble from the id experiences that are highly valued within Primalism and are integral parts of the Primalist social economy. When a Primalist wants to suppress incorrect scrutiny of these things, he will often say something like "it's no big deal" "it's just ... fashion ...the times ...what people want ...etc..." or any similar saying that is based on the its normal because it's normal axiom.

Fierce mundanity is a term that I use to describe what happens when something that is "no big deal" is also the proverbial "elephant in the room". Fierce mundanity is the intellectual phenomenon of people asserting the commonality of a thing as a means to quell the scrutiny of that thing. Fierce mundanity is used to suppress the scrutiny of something powerful when there is a tacit payoff in not having that power examined. A Primalist will use the it's normal because it's normal axiom as fierce mundanity for the tacit payoff that he gains advancing the collective id in a non-articulate way. Not only does he satisfy his unconsious drive for meaning by advancing the ethical demands of Primalism at large, he also gains the tacit payoff of enjoying the id experiences that are being made available to him in the emergent id. Another important tacit payoff for him is the status that he reinforces for himself among fellow Primalists as a "post-articulate" person who "gets it". Thus, being "cool" in the Primalist sense is to experience these tacit payoffs by expressing "fierce mundanity" with ease throughout one's words, demeanor and behavior.

In Primalism, the ethical imperative for an individual to "fit-in" reinforces the individuals' ethical imperative to have a "thought-ethic" of non-examination and non-judgement. For a Primalist to experience his individual id in concert with other Primalists across the collective requires that he sacrifice his individual attempt at making judgements on what has become normal around him. To do this he must apply the same it's normal because it's normal axiom to himself that he asserts to others. In other words, he must suppress his own scrutiny of what is normal by saying "it's no big deal" to himself.

To the extent that there is any latent dissonance that an individual Primalist has fitting in with his fellow Primalists and with progress as it is defined by the "times", he will subconsciously harbor anxiety. A Primalist who wishes to experience all of the payoffs of being cool will be bound by its claims on his mind, feelings, words and behavior, and he will try to remain "cool" even while harboring dissonance and anxiety within himself. To be cool, a Primalist must look out on what has become normal and say "it's no big deal" as a means of pledging allegiance to the collective id. Here, a Primalist will internalize "it's no big deal" and subconsciously apply the "it's no big deal" idea onto his inner life. In this way, a Primalist confronts the dissonance within himself as being something that is "no big deal" and thereby suppresses his anxiety enough to maintain a "cool pose".

In Primalism, a certain amount of latent anxiety is actually taken for granted as just another churning primal drive that humans have. This latent anxiety and insecurity is part of what makes the world go 'round and is the engine for the Primalist social economy and the business economy that is based on it. As such, the Primalist social economy is one of negotiated insecurity that operates as an undercurrent under people's "cool pose" -- more on that later.

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