Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis: conclusion

Hive Mind
an emergent metaphor
ants creating a cortex in the sugar jar.
Photo and caption: Steve Jurvetson
Is "cultural heritage a neurosis? Not exactly: it is a weasel phrase that is passed as a meme. In its common applications, though, it is a neurosis and it has been used to create all manner of ills. It freezes cultural evolution into fixed moments of no change so we can say that it is as anti-evolutionary as creationism. Evolution favours change. We can see that clearly in the brain with pleasure-creating chemicals being created after new discoveries and experiences and these same chemicals being diminished by the repetition of the same event that caused them.

Freezing a point in cultural evolution has made the Athenian Acropolis look like the aftermath of a battleground. Everything that showed change has been removed and there is nothing that shows origins either. Most of history has been eradicated to isolate a single expression. It is more like a demonstration of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. We have location but no momentum.

The term, itself, has no long history: apart from some isolated occurrences in the nineteenth century, it is a twentieth century phenomenon, gaining its momentum mainly since the First World War. Its biggest dip was in the first half of the eighties with the emergence of postmodernism which had emphasized individual viewpoints and the power of subjectivity. But a meme resists inspection being a mind virus. It vanishes when thought gets applied and there are so many agencies in the world that really do not want you to think but only follow. The hive mind is the collective consciousness with, as Jung said, "its wretched "isms" that can launch wars and destruction.

Cultural heritage is said to belong to everyone, but when restrictions are placed on any personal ownership of it , it really belongs to no one apart from those who want to control. It is another expression of the Big Lie.

All of the great discoveries have been made by individuals, but the only individual in the hive is the queen and it is her job (in the case of bees) to make workers and drones. Physical, species, evolution can dispense with intelligence. take the example of the shark: a very efficient killing, eating and breeding machine. But we have evolved in a different direction since we lost our our big teeth and powerful jaws. The universe, itself, seems to be evolving and the latest thoughts in quantum physics are about the universe, itself, being conscious and evolving organic life to experience that consciousness. The evolution of microtubules in which quantum events can take place because their very small size restricts quantum decoherence gives support to this idea.

For the real discoverers within cultural studies (and this includes a great number of collectors who have populated the world's museums with the "raw material" for their thinking processes now, unfortunately. mostly isolated from view as you can only display so much), their subject is their vocation. I will leave you with what Jung says about vocation:

"Vocation, or the feeling of it, is not, however, the prerogative of great personalities; it is also appropriate to the small ones all the way down to the “midget” personalities, but as the size decreases the voice becomes more and more muffled and unconscious. It is as if the voice of the daemon within were moving further and further off, and spoke more rarely and more indistinctly. The smaller the personality, the dimmer and more unconscious it becomes, until finally it merges indistinguishably with the surrounding society, thus surrendering its own wholeness and dissolving into the wholeness of the group. In the place of the inner voice there is the voice of the group with its conventions, and vocation is replaced by collective necessities. But even in this unconscious social condition there are not a few who are called awake by the summons of the voice, whereupon they are at once set apart from the others, feeling themselves confronted with a problem about which the others know nothing. In most cases it is impossible to explain to the others what has happened, for any understanding is walled off by impenetrable prejudices."
 C. G. Jung, Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 17: Development of Personality (p. 176). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
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