The central grand narrative of yesterday has been utterly decimated. Nietzsche declare that God was dead and we killed him. The grand narrative has long been dead, at best a zombie that continues to roam. Particularly in the West, and in advanced nations, which even less developed regions are as fragmented. This is postmodernism, late modernism, hate it if you like, rage against the monstrosity, it is as futile as Geppetto in Monstro’s belly.
1) Decentralization: If one word could describe the state of our current existence it is decentralization. The once vertical, hierarchical, overarching religious and cultural narrative has been shattered into infinite pieces. Each individual lives within their own personal subjective sphere, their own narrative, a fragment. One individual’s subjective narrative is loosely connected to the next persons. There may be overlap and pragmatic consensus, as needed. These multiple spheres, or nodes, are networking together forming a consensual narrative. It is more like bumper cars rather than hive harmony. On a global scale each country has a general narrative, within that are varying regions with specific discourse, within that there are individual subjective spheres which may or may not mesh with the surrounding narration. There is no central truth, no central authority, no central arbiter of justice, no central explanation, it is constantly streaming nodes that are loosely held together. There are some regions where religion tyrannically holds the nodes together like atoms constituting concrete, and there are places such as the US where the nodes are as loose and flowing as atoms in a liquid. I hesitate to use the word chaos, but it is accurate. There is no central direction, no progress, no goal, only billions of chaotic narratives struggling to make sense of existence. The postmodern is defined by each individual having their own personal subjective narration. The ones who still cling to the grand narratives of the past are clinging to the walking undead. Any search for ultimate truth, ultimate good, ultimate meaning is futile. Looking to the external for the Good or God is a futile search for the holy grail. In our decentralized age one must look within the obtrusive discourse and its infinite networking. It is fleeting, impermanent, streaming, ecstatic energy that cannot be captured in objective conceptualization.
2) Context: Individual frame within the subculture frame within the regional frame within the national frame within the global frame…this is the postmodern matryoshka doll. There is no central authority, only a thousand truths competing for dominance. Cultural relativism is a dead end. Relativism is a dead end. The question what is truth, what is justice, what is good, what is evil are the most irrelevant questions to ask in our age. There will be no answer, only speculation and faith. As St. Ambrose once stated, “if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there.” Whether the cultural narrative is objectively true or not, within the context of that region it is true and right, and this is a legitimate truth relative to those within the context. Herein is the power of discourse, for the dominate narrative is what decides what is true. Whether it be objectively true or not is irrelevant, and such is the savageness we engage in daily. On the individual level, within their own subjective sphere one decides what is true and false, good and evil, whether they adopt a group definition or decide themselves. Truth is not relative, but pragmatically, for all intents and purposes, that truth is true to that individual. It is reality, if it manifest tangibly or not. We cannot escape this, and that is okay. We live with delusions, be they maladaptive or not. Truth is contingent on the context. This is not objective truth, but it is the truth that determines our every day existence. Is that not the truth that impacts us the most?
3) Further fragmentation: If we each live within our own subjective sphere somewhat rooted in the tangible world, loosely networked to those spheres around us, how long before we fragment to such a degree we exist independent of the discourse? Imagine each individual with their own virtual reality, a decentralization to such a degree that each subjective reality is a subjective reality unto itself. My simulated world, your simulated world, whether we communicate is purely optional. The window has shattered into a billion fragments and each fragment becomes its own entity. Daily we customize this cyber element to better suit our needs and preferences. It has become a necessary limb we cannot live without. Perhaps at a point the individual splits off entirely, into its own simulated reality, a complete immersion into their subjective sphere. The real completely replaced by the simulation, to such an extent the real does not exist. There is only the copy, there is no original. Baudrillard prophesied as much. The community ceases to exist, people are atomized, loosely held together by practicality and a cyber element, and this ultimately ends in complete atomization. There is no community. There is only the self that is infinitely involved with the self.
4) Individuation: A subjective sphere may adopt the narration of the group, adopt what is true and false, good and evil. This is probably the vast majority. Then there are those who pursue authenticity. This individuation of the node, of the subjective sphere, isolating itself from the greater network and pursuing its own authenticity, whatever that may turn out to be. It has been called individualism or egoism, I reject this altogether. For one to categorize themselves as such is antithetic to individuation. Figuratively the subjective sphere which isolates itself from the network, from the common narrative, discovering its own being experiences a kind of apotheosis. This apotheosis is consciousness that has isolated itself, hardened itself, and become its own ‘god’ figuratively speaking. It creates its own values. It has no resentment. It stands on its own. It is the sole arbiter of its own subjectivity. It affirms and accepts the whole of existence. It is its own lawgiver. This radical concept is difficult to write, whether one approaches it as theist, atheist, or metaphysically in between. Individuation is decentralization taken to its extreme, a radical isolation of consciousness.