It’s Just Another Day, Let the Memetic Infection Pass


New Age types, most spiritual types, and (I hate to say it) even most psychedelic types are too porous; too lacking in an immunal response to silly and sometimes harmful memes. The New Age, in particular, is a folk culture. In some ways, it’s intentionally primitivist, which is — or has been — part of its charm.

In folk cultures, memetic infections tend to spread rapidly by word of mouth (or word of tweet etc.) and tends to suffuse the culture fairly completely, since the sense of belonging and identity is fairly strong, particularly as compared to an atomized, individualistic, decentered culture like the one we’re in.

Thus, in a very short period of time, memes spreads. Soon everybody in that culture "knows" that the Rothschilds — in actuality, a declining banking dynasty — control all or most of the worlds’ money (or are conspiring to do so). Everybody knows that a hug from Ammaji has extra special healing powers. Everybody’s a folk expert on building demolition and knows that the magical incantation "Building 7" can chase away any need to deal with a complicated world in which there’s more than one bad actor between us and an age of sweetness and light.

Ironically, New Age types are more vulnerable to "brainwashing" — allowing memes to completely overtake their lives and psyches — than the typical American "sheeple" they like to ridicule. The ability to say "fuck it," grab a beer and some chips and watch the ballgame may be an effective immunal response against grinding some bullshit — whether mainstream or alternative — too deeply into one’s psyche.

So here we are. It’s December 21, 2012 —the day that allegedly ends one "cycle" and begins another.

Now, let it be said that Terence McKenna, one of the original vectors of the 12/21/12 global apocalypse and/or transmutation contagion was a highly educated, erudite, wild and wooly intellectual raconteur who arrived at that date via a combination of mysticism (including tryptamine channelings from "the logos") and reasonably sharp observations about the evolution of culture and technology. He never took the deadline or even the inevitable end point all that seriously. But he’s no longer around to say, "Well, no. I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about today." Besides, he sometimes candidly acknowledged that his livelihood was dependent on New Age gullibility, so he would more likely be out there on the 2012 circuit accepting speaker’s fees and temporizing the disappointing shortfall on accelerated cultural and technological change with the vague notion that this can still be a day to transformation because we can make it so, even if Quetzalcoatl doesn’t climb out of Daniel Pinchbeck’s mouth at the assigned hour.

So where’s the harm in this hippie frolic with the End Times? There probably isn’t much harm. But I do see a tendency amongst people who think this world should be a spiritual paradise (as opposed to the biological, Darwinian challenge that it is) to look around for someone to blame when the world doesn’t live up to their expectations. And while there are plenty of bad actors making the world uglier than it needs to be — and New Agers correctly identify at least some of the suspects — they also tend to create simplistic Manichean dualities that lead to the literal (gray alien insects) demonization of people who may be less than deserving or not deserving at all; all the while annoyingly professing their enlightened universal love.

Back when there was a pretty solid, centralized, mainstream cultural meme machine putting out its very limited and limiting brand of reality, I took something of a delight in the plethora of flaky memes that emerged out on the fringes. Now, we’re way past drowned in flaky memes, many of which have been mainstreamed, particularly by the American Republican Party. Now is the time to erect your mental firewall against bullshit in all its forms and keep your causes and beliefs to a minimum — precise, trim and light. We can’t be vacant, but do please take your memes with many many grains of salt. Tomorrow is December 22. The miracle — same as it ever was — is that anything exists at all.