Loss of the Lifeworld A while back I visited a museum with an insect display and had some questions answered by a volunteer I was with. My question about the ants was: do they have a queen? They did not. All of their activity was a pointless milling about. There was no future for them. They were severed from any context that could give their actions meaning.
As a European-descended inhabitant of the "New World" (so stupid to call it that, as if it was a brand new baby continent with no history at all), and someone with no religious affiliation, I have felt this disconnection all my life. I've wanted to remedy it...I've delved into Celtic mythologies and even practiced Wicca in an attempt to connect to my ancient "European" culture. I've baked butter tarts, ate poutine, and bannock, and camped in the mountains in attempt to connect to my more recent "Canadian" culture. I've flirted with going to church to connect with my "Christian" culture - I've actually been going to multiple church-events with friends of various Christian faiths since I was a child. But none of it feels like truth to me. I'm lost. I don't pretend that my loss is greater than that of people who are wrenched away from their culture (like Indigenous children); but the slow drifting away from culture is damaging in it's own right. Thanks for this piece, it really helped me contextualize what I'm experiencing. <3
Found this stimulating to read. It feels as though the past and the lifeworld have been supplanted by media and an imposed narrative at odds with observable reality to which outliers cannot resonate with.
I found this passage very insightful:
"Gardens are cultivated. Living things have a continuity and a lineage. They are not assembled from component parts but are raised (and descend) from the generation that preceded them. Culture is not something that is built from an assembly kit of first principles but is something that has learned to survive in the world and transmit itself to the future. In the biological metaphor, the world is full of things with will, desire, ancestry and agency. "
I don't have a particular cite for you but I believe that “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire” is normally attributed to Gustav Mahler
The project of our time is the creation of new ways of life. Organisms themselves, they are born from union.
> The cargo cult approach produces an obsession with details, minutiae, and purity that is not found among people with genuinely living connections to the past. In contrast, people who inhabit living traditions often combine them with aspects of modernity without a second thought, like an indigenous hunter who combines wild meat and groceries from the store.
Rene Guenon converted to Islam for the main reason of that having a better unbroken connection to the past than Christianity did
>Living traditions mutate and permutate. They are nourished at their roots but threatened at their boundaries.
here I'd disagree
it is through the boundaries that they mutate, cross-pollinate. Yes, there is competition, yes, some die out. The same happens with species, that's Nature
This reminds me of what Haidt said in his book, The Happiness Hypothesis.
Love the highlighting of culture as biological metaphor!