- the Death, and the Resurrection,
of Modern Civilization -
"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth."
What is the true virtue of the meek? What quality makes them blessed, and for which the Earth is to become theirs?
An attempt has been made to organize this book in a particular way, that is, to give it an inner structure that is musical. Excluding the "Overture", the book consists of fifteen parts: eight "metastories" alternating with seven "essays". Each "metastory" represents a "note" in the "octave", i.e. do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. Each "essay" represents an "interval" between two "notes", i.e. the interval do-re and so forth. The book also contains something on the order of a descent followed by an ascent. First we go deeper and deeper into our shared human nature, in the context of the times, and then we rise upward out of that individual reality, out of ourselves into new forms of association and community. In a different dimension, this book also strives to be merely descriptive, and not an analysis. It is an attempt to create a form-picture of the musical and moral structure of humanities social existence.
The book does have a point, which can I hope, be communicated rather simply. It is as follows:
Most of the confusion of the modern age is due to the loss of meaning, that is the loss of the true significance of what it means to be a human being, what it means to be alive on the Earth, and what is the nature of one's place in the Universe. This loss of meaning, once its true dimensions are understood, can be healed, and our true human meaning restored. Not only that, but this restoration of meaning belongs to ordinary people, to the meek, to accomplish. In one sense, it involves a kind of war, a struggle against contemporary "priests" of meaning, whether they are scientists, psychologists, doctors, teachers, clergy, artists, parenting experts, business leaders, politicians, whatever. Meaning belongs to the individual. The world is to mean what I choose.
Let me repeat. The world is to mean what I choose. Out of my own sense of the true, the beautiful and the good, I (and thou) choose the world's meaning. Now someone might wonder whether this is going to end up in some kind of chaos or anarchy. Yet please remember, it is the meek whose virtue it is to give ultimate meaning to Earth existence; and, a corollary of their character is a natural tendency to sacrifice to the social and the communal. It is the not-meek who insist their's is the only way of understanding the world. The true-meek will by their nature include the "other", the social element. Meaning will still be an individual act; but among the meek, it will be done in a social way. After all, isn't the true virtue of meekness simply patience and humility, the opposite of egotism and self-righteousness?
This struggle over the loss of meaning and its restoration is already implicit in a number of contemporary social phenomena. For example, drug addiction is a quite definite, although unhealthy, reaction to the loss of meaning. If life meant something, if personal existence had truly felt meaning and significance, there would be no driving need flee modern existence and to lose one's self in the dreaming ecstasy of addiction. The self would be too important.
As a corollary to this, the "solution" to certain social ills has to do with changing the underlying culture. A healthy soul grows best in the "true human meaning" of a healthy culture, just as a healthy plant grows best out of well cared for soil. Spousal abuse, child abuse, these and similar manifestations of the shadow elements of the soul, cannot be touched by law, or even social pressure. Already the soul is malformed and the spirit unable to restrain the unwanted impulses, when such acts are carried out. If, however, the community learns to raise the soul properly, training the spirit to understand the true nature of inner life, then out of this understanding the individual human spirit will be able to recognize and master, out of its own forces, the darker elements of soul life.
The key, to the struggle to restore true human meaning, is to renew oral culture. A strange idea? Perhaps. This book intends to open the door to such possibilities.
Because the renewal of oral culture is to be the fundamental method for the healing of the loss of meaning, it is my hope that this book will be read aloud, so that from the beginning the reader/speaker can discover again the powers inherent in speech and oral communication. Even if you are alone, to read it aloud may help. Just try the verse below; read it loud and with feeling, then all doubt will disappear and you will know.
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