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Facing the Challenge of HyperNormalisation

August 14, 2020

The final vestiges of human decency and reasonableness seem to be under ever greater attack with each passing month of late. We are expected to accept as true, obvious lies, distortions and misinformation, and we are expected to conduct ourselves among others according to ever changing guidelines and rules that often feel totally ridiculous and arbitrary. A person entering a restaurant in order to purchase a coffee to take away will need to wear a mask, while someone staying to drink the coffee at the restaurant is free to not wear a mask. In the world snooker tournament, players have to use their own rests and other snooker equipment, if they touch the other players equipment then play has to stop while it is sanitised, and they are also not allowed to shake hands, instead having to resort to a new elbow to elbow gesture, yet all this time, throughout the match, both players are placing their bare hands on the same snooker table!

We have entered an era of what is called by some hyper normalization. This term coined by Alexei Yurchak was used originally to describe his own Soviet Russian society, where the reality of the failing system could not be accepted, and so a pretense was maintained that it wasn’t failing. The society made a collective decision to insulate itself from reality and live in a world of fakeness. The same more recently was applied to our Western society in a recent BBC documentary about the concept by Adam Curtis. He tracks how we have gradually lulled ourselves to sleep of the failings of our society, in favour of a collectively invented one where it still works. Along the way he points to certain figures in the middle east who were created as phoney dictators in order to justify a delusional good against bad narrative in the wars there. Also, he points to the increased technological reliance and developing desire of many in the west to engage in artificial realms of being. He argues, that the world became too complex to change in reality, no one could keep a grip on the real complexities, so the only option was to manage risks by relying on technological predictions and an increasing technological control via invasion of peoples privacy and personal data, in order to manage all potential discrepant individuals and outliers. At first it was the terrorists who were targeted, now it is more generally anyone who has discrepant political views who is outed as racist, in our new inverted authoritarian fascism of today.

The masking process now being pushed across the whole Western world is a symbolic exercise in enforcing mass conformity and objectification of the other. It is a kind of total inversion of the Christian call to love ones neighbour. Instead, we are to distrust all others and keep them at a distance. In this way, within our own safe space we can continue apace our accelerating process of hypernormalised disengagement with the reality around us.

These are the challenges that hypernormalisation brings to us. The challenge to reconnect with the reality surrounding us and the challenge to form a reasonable conception of that reality surrounding us. The cynical follower of hypernormalisation would tell you that there is no hope of achieving these things and insist you fall in line. But I believe the human spirit knows differently and will rebel more and more against these artificial impositions. A reasonable way of Being is what we are looking for. We have to navigate many restrictions and limitations in this modern era. The material limitations of the  planet, the restrictions put in place for us by our elite, technology controlling and personal information controlling authoritarian overlords, the failure and corruption of democracy in the face of that elite, half-baked scientific theories portrayed as dogma by aristocratically chosen experts, idolised celebrities used, abused and using and abusing their status to spread half-baked political misinformation to the public. And the list could go on a lot longer. The cynical western journalist ethos, that is too focused on self negation as truth, to ever think about self-embodiment as truth. The consumerist culture and the psychological manipulations of advertising.

All of these things try to push us towards a materialistic and nihilistic view of fundamental nature, being and reality. From that position we are powerless, and then we will willingly submit to authoritarian dictates and to technological distractions. To avoid it, there is only one way, and that way is to discover a reasonable way of Being. How can we once more embody the truths of the world that we are connected to? It requires no less than a deep study of the foundations of reason, logic and ontology, to discover both where we went wrong, and where we can go right, or at least better, in the future.

I have done some of this work in the past, the more easy task of demolishing certain errors of the past, the more difficult task of construction of an alternative conceptual framework and vision for the future is the journey I must now embark upon.

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