Archive for the ‘positivism’ tag
I went to my photo archives for this photo. It wasn’t until after going through the archives for photos taken four years ago on this day, and selecting this photo that I made a connection with something that was hidden beneath the surface. Today is my eldest child’s birthday, a girl who is now mother to two boys. The first child changes one’s life in ways that one can never fully comprehend, a change that I don’t know can be ever understood at a visceral level by those who never have a child. Yet, for all the change that happens, one still remains “self.” It’s as though one simply walks through another inner doorway into another region of self, a place that has always been there.
Last night we went out to dinner at a new restaurant with our apartment neighbours where we met another couple, an American and his Chinese wife. During the evening conversation, I learned where they had bought a new apartment, a place not that far from our apartment. The photo I posted two days ago was taken not too far from their location. To get to their apartment, one has to cross two bridges over two canals. The photo above shows a bridge over the first canal that I cross when headed in that direction. Today that bridge is gone. Changes. Four years after the photo was taken, there is nothing that is the same at this location other than the fact that a canal is still present. Yet even the canal has changed. It has been dredged and a new wall has been built. The banks of the canal are now parkways, green spaces that edge high rise after high rise apartment buildings. The quality of life, from a materialistic point of view, has definitely improved for many Chinese people. But, at what cost?
I won’t answer that last question, it isn’t for me to answer as I would only be making statements based on almost no real objective information. That said, I can look at the images and see what “I” as a westerner have lost. Though I often focus on “self,” I know that I am part of a collective and that what is lost to the collective directly and indirectly impacts upon my “self.” The shift from the dirt and mud into a world of sculpted park has come at a cost. The loss of messiness is really a loss of gods, competing and complementing forces of the human soul.
“The banishment of the gods leads ultimately to a dreary, mechanistic universe. When the word spread throughout the ancient world that the great nature god Pan was dead, there was no rejoicing. He was replaced by the stern monotheistic gods of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic world, who were in turn replaced by the modern reigning deities of Positivism, Materialism, Hedonism, and most of all, the great god Progress. And so the world gets emptier and emptier, and the clients pile up in therapists’ offices, huddle fearfully in houses of ancestral worship, or numb out through television, drugs or even an obsessive preoccupation with health. The gods have hardly gone; they have simply gone underground, and they constantly resurface in the form of our various pathologies.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 89)
Here, in China, I can see this a lot more clearly. Religions and their gods really have no place here. China is racing towards modernism as fast as their newest trains which race from city to city at more than 300 kilometres per hour. There is no pretense – the gods of modernism are embraced with a will as all rush to get their small piece of “happiness.” And sitting here in China, I can more easily see those sitting back at home in Canada and the U.S.A. doing their part to get their small portions while wanting more as they didn’t get the promised happiness. The more that is owned, the more one is left empty. I don’t have answers. I only know that my soul is tired of being deceived and wants to find a home in this world. The home isn’t a place anymore, it is a way of being. And for me, that is the greatest change that has come out of midlife, a time where my children take their turns at being parents.