Friday, July 6, 2012

Fight the Fuzz, Pt. 1

We are living, a certain school of academics hold, in the ‘post-modern’ age. Putting aside this lame unimaginative title, we are told that it is characterised by a kind of fuzziness. To put it another way, we see previously demarcated spheres of human activity - such as high and low culture - now blend together into a huge melting pot, being stirred by the movement of culture and society. Because God is dead, and it is man that rules now, or the cumulation of all our activities activities that rule. Nations and economies move in ways pretty much autonomous from the actions of one individual. But when we define one as different from another, can we ever say this is a complete definition? Can we completely separate everything out into nice little boxes that never come into contact with each other? Or is this impossible? It could be the case that the seepage that occurs at the edge of definition is what allows for things to enfold, adjust and change. Or that the seepage is what constitutes or hints at a greater reality, an unconscious one that will never speak its name. Are we getting into, well, fuzzy territory here?

That fuzziness is a byproduct solely of the post-modern era is a highly contentious statement. It seems that every new age seems to want to do away with this fuzziness that has probably always been with us. But how does one fight a blur?

Let us take a sojourn into history to elaborate upon this ever-present blurring. The enlightenment is usually thought of as a kind of awakening, a reposing of the grandest questions, a fire relit, remembered and saved from the ruins of ancient Athens. Old institutions of power and power structures were question, shook to their core, and eventually superseded, whether by violent uprising or gradual societal shifts. 

Religion was one of the main battle grounds. The issue, when you strip away the more intellectual, navel gazing questions such as whether or not there is a God, was one of power. Who had it? From Henry VIII to modern day Ireland, we can ask the question, how much influence do the religious orders have over political institutions, and how much power should they have over political institutions. The tension has existed since Constantine made Christianity the religion of the peoples of Rome; since Henry VIII made himself head of the Church of England; and since a consensus grew up around that time period deemed to be called the enlightenment, a consensus that the affairs of the church and the state ought to be completely separate. 

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