The Zeitgeist of Modern Culture: We are all in on the Joke

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The ever present want for human connectedness, free living and peace on earth is no new concept and we only need look back to the 60s for proof of this. Ever since December 21 2012, when the strangely accurate Mayan calendar ended its third and final cycle allegedly predicting the end of the world, was proved not to be true, it brought more to believe the alternative explanation a  beginning of a new age. In a time now where the guitars of Woodstock are replaced with the records of many a DJ bag, the spirit is omnipresent and growing at a huge momentum.  But how genuine is this movement?

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Let me cast your mind back to an article Elite Daily published in February: Could it be?

“Millennials are the new generation of Hippies, but with better weed..”

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The writer painted a picture of a youth similar to that of the counter culture movement of decades ago ‘We are the new free spirits, the new lovers, the new revolutionaries. We are the children of the herb, the sisters of the ganja and the brothers of the pipe. We are just passionate kids with an idea of living life another way.’

 Many commented on the naivety of the article and passed it off as ill informed, ‘dumb’ and with one too many drug references. Look closely and it states that the author is in fact a comedy writer, making the piece a parody. However, look at the zeitgeist of modern culture and it seems that we’re all in on the joke.

There is a new wave of thinking emerging that can actually be identified everywhere . For example the widespread use of aromatherapy. The practice, often used to aid meditation and promote wellbeing is now no longer kept for spa days and bohemian students, as scents are selling like wildfire. It only takes a wander on any high street to see the vast array of candles, oil burners and incense sticks appearing in stores. Even new outlets are appearing with the sole intention of selling a scent. A similar attitude can be also seen with crystals, vitamin/herbal supplements, herbal teas and vegan type diets as customers demand is reflected on the stock shelves. Once seen as nonsense, the want for natural wellbeing in products shows no signs of wavering.

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This stripped down appreciation is present in music culture too. In the UK, most certainly America and un questionably worldwide, electronic music is enjoyed and growing at extraordinary amounts. Whether it be underground house and techno to all guns blazing EDM, there is an overarching ethos to the culture which is based on acceptance, respect and community, formed from its 1980s roots. American clubs fought race and sexual preference prejudices where the UK  raves were faced with political barriers as these adversities no longer exist for the youth of today, the current wave of appeal for the culture could lie in the attached ideologies instead.

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Compare then these raves, to the large scale music events of past and we get to see that the association with the counter culture hippie movements aren’t so ridiculous.

Just like the 60s, fuelled with psychedelia,  electronic music events are no stranger to spiritual symbolism. One example on a smaller scale is the humble triangle, plastered over branding for events worldwide and most famously accompanied with the third eye for the Visionquest logo but the likes of festivals such as Burning man and Day Zero provide a chance to dive headfirst into an alternative way of life. If it is these sorts of events that are now attended by the masses, the youth and those who will go on to eventually gain power in higher places, then surely this outlook will continue.

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But could this be a rose tinted viewpoint?

Some would argue the reality of the popularity of electronic music culture could be best summed up as Breaksmag suggested in its article ‘Deep house and deeper v-necks’: 

‘Here we do things properly. Here, you’d never find homogenous crowds, all white, all 20-something, the men wearing the same River Island shirt with plunging necklines that display, glinting against tribal tattoos, a silver spoon on a necklace, and the women parading in a uniform of arse-bearing hot pants, flashing sideboob and pouting like an erotic army dreamt up by a sweaty-palmed teenager in the throes of his vinegar strokes. Our clubbers are experienced.

Oh, wait…

When did this happen? …But there’s no point railing against the tech-house TOWIEs, whose DC10 nostalgia inspires them to whip off their vests and flex at the opening strains of “Hungry For Power” (the Jamie Jones remix, natch). Mock them as you may, this is their scene now. Disclosure are at the top of the charts… You just wait until they stop skipping over Moroder’s monologue then they’ll have the history down too. Dance music is no longer underground, no longer different. It’s like the mid-90s all over again, only with sing-a-long deep house filling the main floor at Oceana in place of endless spinbacks of “Firestarter”.

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A trend rather than a lifestyle statement, gone could be the days of genuine compassion for one another, and the recent tragic Parklife festival events prove this selfishness culture outright. Any link with the original morals, let alone spiritual values lie on a superficial level, and mean as much to some as the bindi (purchased from a high street store) they wear on their heads.

This superficial attitude can also be seen on the internet as a new breed of music blog has emerged  Youtube channels are created with the sole purpose of showing electronic music videos, and as Thump pointed out recently, the images accompanying the tunes certainly don’t promote equality for all. More suited to be in lads mags than a website for music lovers, provocative women grace the screens, used to attract an audience where music isn’t the main priority. Rather than creating communities interested in sharing music and lifestyle ideas it is another hub for gawking men and the image conscious.

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Just as the explosion of social media can be used to make the world instantly more connected, it is also to blame for a surge in vanity culture. Rather than being a generation of soul searching youths are we actually growing more and more selfish, worried more about our looks and our social media presence than the future?

One person concerned about the future is Russel Brand, when last October he began to use his fame as a public platform to spread his message of a need for a spiritual revolution. (Most notably on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxaman).

The recorded interview has reached over 10 million views on Youtube and on searching the internet it seems a majority of commenters are in agreement. With the nature of newsnight, the topic of conversation was mainly political, with Brand admitting he has never voted due to finding the process irrelevant. Albeit not a change of a wholly spiritual nature, the constant pendulum swinging of UK votes suggests that the public are feeling the same, which could be a factor leading to a search for alternative ways of thinking, and an open mind to what people like Brand have to say.

Perhaps the most notable happening on the worldwide cultural radar is the latest plans by Obama to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. Could this be the largest public, serious acknowledgment of ‘saving the planet’ pretty much ever? There have been political parties and protest groups dedicated to the cause but no serious plans have actually been put in to action until now. It seems that perhaps this new wave of thinking truly is starting to become reality, slowly but surely. 

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It is hard to decide what is happening and only time will tell. I’m sure there have been times when a similar feeling has been prominent in popular culture, but maybe now with the power of the internet, we finally have the source to spread alternative information and theories worldwide, enough to perhaps lead to a change. In the light of recent worrying headlines, this could be a step in the right direction, which is needed in order to save the world from looming disasters. Regardless of the seemingly superficial appropriations of spiritual culture, one thing is for sure and it’s the fact it is widespread and people are aware. As the higher powers seem to be taking action, this could be the tipping point to cause a genuine change of some sorts, of a ‘spiritual’ level.  Maybe not a revolution, but as many believe the Mayans suggested, a human evolution could (or should) be slowly creeping up.

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‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it’ Albert Einstein.

 

Written by Eileen Pegg 

 

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