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Comments are for the page: Countercultures: modernity’s last gasp
Coincidentally I just read your analysis of countercultures, and today am reading this related article in The Atlantic on America’s descent into post-rational post-reality fantasyland, including a consideration of the New Age movement, the anti-science movement, the rejection of truth, and the relativistic views that all opinions are valid.
It seems to me that brands have become a contemporary analogue of countercultures, providing a kind of coherency to a small corner of your life. Hence the “console war,” or the hostilities between iSheep and Fandroids.
Apple in particular arguably sells coherence as its main product, most noticeably in the fantastic interoperability between the various iDevices. But even its choice to offer only a few options for each device is part of the picture: where PC and Android afford choices galore, Apple sells the confidence that you made the Right Choice, something that’s hard to get in an otherwise atomized culture.
This obviously doesn’t apply to all brands; I doubt very many people draw a sense of identity/meaning from preferring General Mills’s breakfast cereals rather than Post’s. My first guess was that it’s a price thing: expensive items can be emotional as well as financial investments. But then I think of In-N-Out Burger, which is a source of meaning for many people, as evidenced by recent events in Colorado.
(Full disclosure: I had In-N-Out once, when I was on a road trip out west. It was OK.)
On second thought, I think brands work better as analogues for subcultures. That had been my initial thought, but I changed my mind right before posting because of an analogy between the console war and the culture war.
Weirdly enough for myself I discovered a kind of subtlety that almost every opinion really can be right in certain way. There are reasons for people to find something true or not based on the whole accumulated experience that helped them throughout life, and while critically considering every opinion we can find flaws in them, there may be still partial truth in them. The reason I came to such conclusion is lifelong shifting of my point of view, and observation that curious learners want to find things out - this is crucial, otherwise their conclusions just won’t work and explain inner properties of the world they intuitively grasp. So now I came up with an idea to consider every idea of people as a metaphor to what they meant to say (but somehow failed to convey the idea with words, not forgetting I also may fail to understand it) or to what they are pursuing to understand in the future (like considering their words as first order approximation to that forthcoming idea), or (from inside my mind) like a metaphor to the idea I’m trying to grasp from the words of the speaker (that is, to the future idea I am pursuing to understand and which will replace previous similar-looking one).
This is not general communication theory and it applies not to all people and situations though, but it gives a point of view on why claim that all opinions are valid holds a grain of truth. All opinions may not be valid on the surface, but this or that way people try to understand same ideas about the world. At least for continuous learners that may be right.
The conclusion is that if we exclude metalevel of understanding from consideration, we may cynically cut down nice ideas and receive nothing.
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