A Culture of Death

Posted 3/5/2015

A Floregium

The culture of death is simultaneously a culture dominated by the notion of “entertainment.” The very notion of entertainment presumes the state of boredom as the norm, which means that a culture increasingly fueled by this notion assumes that our lives are innately and intrinsically meaningless without the constant stream of stimulation and distraction, a stream inevitably subject to the law of diminishing returns. ~Michael Hanby

What is the dominant mode of experience at the end of the twentieth century? How do people see things, and how do they expect to see things? The answer is simple. In every field, from business to politics to marketing to education, the dominant mode has become entertainment. . . . In other centuries human beings wanted to be saved, or improved, or freed, or educated. But in our century, they want to be entertained. The great fear is not of disease or death, but of boredom. ~Michael Crichton

The life of a television-watcher is a kind of caricature of contemplation. Passivity, uncritical absorption, receptivity, inertia. Not only that, but a gradual yielding to the mystic attraction until one is spell-bound in a state of complete union. The trouble with this caricature is that it is really the exact opposite of contemplation: for true contemplation is precisely the fruit of a most active and intransigent rupture with all that captivates the senses, the emotions, and the will on a material or emotional level. The contemplative reaches his passivity only after terrific struggle with everything that appeals to his appetites as a half-animal member of the human herd. He is receptive and still only because the stillness he has reached is lucid, spiritual, and full of liberty. It is the summit of a life of spiritual freedom. The other, the ersatz, is the nadir of intellectual and emotional slavery. ~Thomas Merton