Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

October 7, 2007

The Century of the Self Part 3: The Inner Self?

Filed under: culture, history, media — codesmithy @ 3:24 am

(Warning: some scenes contain brief nudity)

Continuing with “The Century of the Self,” this episode provides the transition from Freudian ideas that the inner urges of human beings need to be controlled to those inner urges being embraced to give birth to the “inner-directed” people. The documentary argues that the birth of “inner-directed” people and identification with brands as well as convenience brought by computer technology has led to the development of a consumer with an insatiable appetite for goods. Some of the techniques to embrace the inner urges caused disastrous consequences to such institutions as nuns of the “Convent of the Immaculate Heart” in Los Angeles in which most of the sisters either left or became radical lesbians. To a degree, I believe the obsession with satisfying inner urges of the self and individual fulfillment has caused decay in other social institutions such as marriage and has had an effect on the body politic about the need to care for anyone other than one’s self or one’s own good.

The failure for radical confrontation was also instructive for racial harmony. There is very little that can be done by simple confronting each other, the underlying socio-economic environment has to change to give rise to a more compromising set of actors. Unfortunately, the ones benefiting in the new economy (“inner-directed”) also tend to embrace a brand of neo-conservatism or libertarianism. Their outlook on life gives them no qualms to kick down the ladders they used to obtain their success, nor would they rationally credit anything but their own exceptionalism for it.

To a degree, I think the techniques explored are transformed and adopted by social institutions. For example, the speaking in tongues portions of “Jesus Camp” seem similar to people flailing around in the personal fulfillment part of the documentary. Peeling back the layers of the self and inserting the kernel of Christian fundamentalism instead of base selfishness.

I’m looking forward to the conclusion.

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