Unfortunate it seems but true that we, though subject to mass delusions & cravings as ever, are now no longer the same political animal, as once could be content with parti-pris. Not even relict culture lends identity enough: the only thing in all the present maelstrom that i can find to cling to build on or huddle within, is my panic-stochastic adoption of a to me savoury subculture.
"Subculture" isn't quite the word. That would imply something lesser &, above all, acknowledged as secessionist by the parent culture. Whereas i maintain our glorious center has simply evaporated. What keep us from noticing this simple fact are the massively concerted fašades of media sculsh, psepholatry, taxploitation, & an imperial idiom (already on the fritz). We think in terms of something else. But we don't have a name for it yet. Within the shells of the old divisions & stereotypes, a new paradigm has blossomed.
Take a gander at the nearest newsstand & behold. Wherefore (you ask) can there ever be snagged, a quorum of Iguana Owners? A glossy & not negligible magazine (/website) sits there leering forth: & i understand, like apple-bonked Newton, that the true groups today are DISPERSED. Maybe they never do assemble all at once in one place. A force, invisible & plenipotent, still orients them, guides, like filings of steel around one pole of a magnetic tropism. I call it a "Blik".
"Blik" is a way of referring to a group of people by the one quality or predilection they all share. This, their style-philosophy, works for that blik the way a territory used to for tribes. It's a philosophy because it involves ideas (whether or not they're defined or even talked about), unlike consumerist fashion; & it's a style-philosophy because it involves the whole person's lifestyle, not just a point of view. A blik compels you to seek expression.
What creates a blik? Glamour. A fascination with one specialized mode of being-in-the-world. It can be a type of music, a game, a drug, a hobby, a form of sexuality, a religion, a personality cult, a venerable or self-invented artform, a way of making a living (rarely!); it is anything that gives meaning to your life inexhaustibly & whose contemplation creates a ramified discourse --standards of comparison, preference & exclusion. Icons, metaphors, slang, dress, behavior. It is a playground for the exercise of free choice, & a dialectical encounter with mediated Necessity. And because all glamours involve the manipulation of symbolic objects (--what "magic" ever was) it is not enough to just "talk the talk". We are driven to repeatedly transact whatever magical-metaphorical operations reinforce our blixen.
Hardly anyone lacks a blik; most of us belong to several. On one hand, the system of blixen has swallowed up all the major preoccupations of humanity--art, religion, politics--by breaking them down into specialities that fewer & fewer outsiders care to explore; on the other, this system shades off into the infinitesimal subtleties & infinite variety of "taste". To keep this term at all meaningful, i want to restrict it to those things you not only care about enough to demand one way & not another, but also have spent time discriminating & studying. Maybe it doesn't have a newsletter, or conventions to meet others of your ilk at yet; still, these are inherent tendencies--& goals: who will be the first Perfume Critic? Do the Trekkies have a martyr?
We even perceive our predecessors in terms of blixen. Just read a book & become a Druid! Instead of politics-history, culture-history; each century or (in this one) decade a congeries of fads. I don't know if it's any falser. What Morality was to the Nineteenth Century, & Politics is to the Twentieth, Blixen will be to the Twenty First: a metalanguage. No one will be able to talk about anything outside it. Clearly,the notion of "counterculture" has no place. That's what they ALL are.
History is savagely random, but Culture is savagely dialectical. We're left with the dialectics of blixen. This does not mean nothing. If the Sixties succumbed to irony as much as to consumerism, we seem to be entering, dialectically, a "Post-Ironic" period (i owe this term to the Dallas poet Melanie Pruit ). Irony only has meaning against an assumed norm; precisely what's being contested in the current "Kulturkampf". Governance being left to the Politico-Show Biz blik, that power vacuum consequent became parasitized by sundry pirates flying the colors of the Biblical-Fascist blik (you can fill in the rest). But two blixen far more readily corrupt than conquer one another... Ensueth farce, Karl; circus age doom.
Ita dixit Graywyvern Grammaticus.
If you'd like to read more of Michael's stuff, you may email him at Treats@luckydogbooks.com
Last updated 9/25/97.