AUTHENTICITY, THE PERIPHERY AND THE ULTIMATE DECLINE, FALL AND RENEWAL OF CIVILIZATION.
The search for an authentic experience causes us to inevitably deplete the very authenticity we seek. The core/periphery method of development is a perfect example of this. Like the suburbs and suburban sprawl, people are constantly seeking out authenticity in an increasingly ‘overbuilt’ and contrived world. Whether it is consumer society which is constantly seeking to co-opt this or that ‘genre’ in its advertizing campaigns so as to present its products in a fresh or ‘authentic’ light, people in the post-modern world are increasingly seeking to find that ‘special space’ which is unspoiled and pristine be it literaly or figuratively.
But unfortunately, the supreme irony of it is that as soon as they find this proverbial ‘Shangri-La’, whether it be a person, place or thing, they invariably will have a tendency to ‘colonize’ it by ‘building it up’, or ‘occupying’ its space or time, somewhat like how people like to find an unspoiled area of town to build a house. Invariably, however, as soon as they do, others hear of it and want to live the authentically ‘pristine’ or ‘unspoiled’ experience and the area ends up getting built up, thereby causing the authenticity of the ‘pristineness’ or ‘unspoiledness’ of the person, place or thing to be destroyed by the very process or quest for authenticity which drove them to embark upon their quest to begin with.
This, then becomes a sort of self-defeating and self-fulfilling prophecy which guarantees that the very core-periphery process of development which has driven the world’s process of economic and political exploitation will ultimately provide the seeds for its own demise and/or possible re-birth, possibly on this planet, or off-world.
The periphery will get to be so far-flung that there will be no more room to develop humanity anywhere here on earth, and we will have to either scale back our ambitions through war or economic/ecological calamity, or we will have to move off-world to find new opportunities for growth. I might even envisage that we might make contact with extraterrestrial civilizations in the not-too-distant future and our civilization might get absorbed either in whole or in part by theirs. A part of our population might even end up going to live off world on another planet.
Anyway you slice it; the search for authenticity is the one thing which has always driven humanity to search beyond ourselves, for good and for ill. Where it is leading us, is anybody’s guess. All I know is that the more we push the periphery the more ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ the possibility of a new thesis becoming a reality nears fruition, with all of the potential for decay and renewal which this entails.
May 29, 2012
Written at the Casa Calzone Bar/Restaurant on Grande Allée est in Québec city Québec, Canada.