In a time of commoditized pop music and duelling on-demand streaming services, it can be easy to forget that music is anything other than a generic product to be effortlessly and often unconsciously consumed. But music, perhaps moreso than any other art form, has always been as much about group interaction and co-creation as about mere audience reception.
We have many words to describe the desirable properties of human-made things: strength, durability, lightness, efficiency, simplicity, power, intuitiveness, and so on and so forth.
But we don’t really have a word to describe things that have all of these properties at once and in just the right balance between them for the given situation.
I would like to suggest that diaphany might serve as this missing term, and to propose that it might be particularly useful word at this phase of our social evolution as a species.
“All models are wrong, but some are useful.”
For centuries, philosophers have grappled with the concept of the metaphysical transcendence: what are the most fundamental divisions in reality, the ur-categories out of which all other categories emerge?
For medieval philosophers high on an epic blend of Plato and Christian theology, the answer was Beauty, Truth and Goodness, which they saw as three aspects of the same mystical ultimate One (also in their thinking synonymous with God in his glory and perfection).
Aikido is the martial art of defensive throws, joint locks and using your opponent’s energy against them – except that it isn’t, because it doesn’t really work.
Martial arts practitioners have coined the word bullshido to describe arts that seem legit on paper but that break down in the real world under even the slightest pressure testing.
I would propose that bullshido is everywhere – not just in the martial arts – and that by being alert to it we can protect ourselves from its various dangers.
In the modern urbanized settings where most of us live today, it can be easy to neglect the seasons. But this is a mistake. The seasonal cycle of the natural world supplies a rhythm against which we can structure our lives.
There is a stereotypical view of gardening as a “soft” activity, a gently escapist pursuit suited to retirees with time on their hands and an aversion to loud noises. This stereotype is false. Gardening is one of the most essential of all physical and intellectual activities, bringing us in touch with the deepest core of what it means to be human.
My grandparents were born in the lands of the Austro-Hungarian empire, during one of history’s great cultural flowerings – a glittering golden age that gave the world Einstein, Freud, Kafka, Wittgenstein, Klimt, Tesla, Schrodinger, Rilke and dozens more of history’s greatest artists, scientists and inventors.
By the time they were teenagers, it was all over: the empire had disintegrated, kicking off two world wars and an unimaginable genocide in the process.
Bourgeois and bohemian used to be in harmony, the yin and yang of white people culture – for every SUV, a patchouli-infused VW van.
But not any more, because boho is dead, guys. Bougie won, and even “blue collar” folks are bougie now. Have you seen their pickup trucks?
This framework is one of my own, developed at a time when I was thinking about my son’s educational needs and wanting to make sure I had a sense of the big picture there. Taking a high-level view, what does a human need to know/learn in order to thrive in their life?
For good reason, Western society has evolved beyond a system that determines a person’s role based on rigid gender norms of manual work and war-making for men, homemaking and childrearing for women. This does not mean, however, that a division of labour between the members of a household is always and in every respect or possible configuration a bad thing.