A lot to be confused about, too.
"We" are constantly hitting ourselves around the head in our societies. Collectively getting down on our own cases. (As a shrink, I discovered that hitting ourselves around the head as individuals was a way of... not dealing with what we REALLY ARE responsible for. It is a subtle way of wiggling out of responsibility by taxing yourself with the responsibility for EVERYTHING. "It's all my fault. I'm a BAD PERSON." etc etc. When you think about it, taxing yourself with being responsible for EVERYTHING is a mirror image of taxing yourself with being responsible for... NOTHING. It allows you to not break the situation down into details and really SEE where YOU are in it. It keeps things... global, and untouchable. Out of.. THINKING range.)
We hear lots of stuff about being a.. consumer society. A MATERIALISTIC consumer society.
And if you take a stroll in my town's "zone industriel", a depressed French version of a shopping mall which doesn't even have the.. GRACE to look pretty ; it looks like a... camp.. you will see parking lots full of cars on Saturday morning and afternoon, even when the weather is nice. People hanging out in the stores to buy.. STUFF.
That's pretty... materialistic, isn't it ? Buying all that STUFF ?
Let's look at it from a different perspective, and a little more closely.
WHAT are the people buying ?
Flat screen TV's. Computers. Hard disk drives.
THE PEOPLE (!!!!) are buying mass produced techno stuff... (In all fairness, they are NOT JUST buying this mass produced techno stuff in France, either.)
Well, we aren't going to dictate to them how to spend their money, are we ?
We're in a democracy, aren't we ?
I received from my parents quite a few really beautiful OBJECTS. (Not a bunch of stuff...)
Made at a time when the mass produced techno stuff had NOT YET taken over. (I feel obliged to point out in fairness that the industrial revolution is NOT TOTALLY responsible for the mass produced mentality. It has been with us for a long time, as a short visit to Avignon's art museum showed me, when I got a look at hundreds of cheap, shoddy imitations of Botticelli Madonnas made for middle class people OF THAT TIME to feel like THEY TOO had the real McCoy. Keeping up with the Joneses in the 16th century.)
Those objects my parents gave me look a lot different than the stuff people are buying right now.
They are... beautiful. They are... made with care. (a little bit like violins, cellos, are made).
I know that when I go to my friends' homes I will not see objects like these.
While they are not UNIQUE, they are a lot closer to unique than my Mac computer.
Second point. We are not really interested in the OBJECT when we buy the techno stuff.
Not at all. We are interested in.. THE IDEA behind the object. The object really has little or no value to us in and of itself. It gives us access to... the world of ideas behind.
So, you see where I am going.
Our culture is really light years away from materialism at this time.
It is DRUGGED on transcendance. (At least, the culture that we are getting hit around the head with...)
Yep, you heard me.
Transcendance is THE WORLD OF IDEAS that our culture, in true Platonic fashion, has stuck BEHIND the material world, which I am going to define as the world we can TOUCH with our HANDS.
A rather restrictive definition of material, I will grant you, but.. i am writing this, and I will assume that restriction. All the senses do NOT connect with THINGS you can hold in your hand or touch. Not at all. Especially VISION.
I will come back to the problem of transcendance, in later posts (I hope..)
MOST people tend to confuse the problem of transcendance with the question about the existence of God.
While we may triumphantly crow that we don't believe in God, and that that is our choice, we definitely DO NOT and CAN NOT triumphantly crow that.. we don't believe in language.
And the question of transcendance is inseparable from the question of language, and meaning.
And... just WHAT is more immaterial (at first glance at least..) than.. LANGUAGE ?