They Fought the Gyre … and the Gyre Won

Source: He Gets Us Back in the beforetime when we all still had senses of humor about ourselve

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  1. Avatar for 010101 010101 says:

    “Party entirely distorts the judgement, and destroys the taste. When the mind is once infected with this disease, it can only find pleasure in what contributes to increase the distemper. Like the tiger, that seldom desists from pursuing man after having once preyed upon human flesh,”

    Oliver Goldsmith circa 1762

  2. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    A dismal assessment of the state of affairs, I think, but not wrong.

  3. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Wow, the things you miss if you don’t watch the Superbowl! I watched 2 or 3 of those ads in the piece but then was reluctant to go further. I get it already! I wonder how much they spent.

    Makes me wonder about the time frame of the last two “painful” decades, and sorry that you have experienced that by the way Rusty. I was thinking it coincides with the micro-targeting of ads and content enabled by social media and the uptake thereof by the broad population, especially Facebook. I believe there is likely a relationship there.

    This time frame also corresponds with the unleashing of dark money on our body politic. Christian nationalists are most definitely a thing, which became quite clear for all who have eyes to see on January 6, 2021.

  4. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thanks for joining the conversation!

    I think that WOULD be different, so a very good observation. You may be 100% correct, at least in the underlying intention. But speaking personally, it isn’t the sense I get from their more ambitious agenda, which exists firmly in the space of the top-down; that is, changing the conversations all of us are having and the way that all of us think about a certain thing. By definition, I think establishment of a community outside the widening gyre has to be very explicitly small in scale and scope, at least at first, and most importantly has to pursue a direct, concrete goal (e.g. modeling and encouraging Christlike community outside of a framework of political co-option) rather than an abstracted one (e.g. changing politics and society by changing the way everyone thinks about who Jesus was and what Christianity is about).

    Given how hard it is to do the first of those two things (I’m very, very bad at it) and how easy it is to attempt the second by throwing a lot of money at it, I really, truly am empathetic! It is not hard at all to imagine good intentions.

    Tens of millions of dollars. Pretty wild, really.


    In case you haven’t seen it, you might enjoy a podcast that Ben and I did together around that time. I’ve probably written 40,000 words on the topic of the narratives and common knowledge underlying a few different strains of Christian Nationalism, but have not had the heart to commit any of them to a final essay or book yet.

  5. Avatar for jrs jrs says:

    I think establishment of a community outside the widening gyre has to be very explicitly small in scale and scope, at least at first, and most importantly has to pursue a direct, concrete goal […] rather than an abstracted one.

    This is a fascinating idea that I would like to read more about.

    If I understand, you’re also implying that The Gyre can only be overcome through some amount of divergence and selection of ideas and groups. Anything too monolithic, at this point, will just be sucked back in. No matter how attractive its message may be to some or even all of us.

    IOW, for every Benedictine sect we know from history, probabilistically there must have been 100 or 1000 or more very similar groups to them doing the same things as they were. At the sect level, they failed to make our historical accounts and/or any anti-Gyrological impact,

    And yet, on a group level, probabilistically their existence and independence from one another was also required for human civilization ultimately to survive The Gyre and continue.

    A bunch of interesting questions arise when we add modern technology to this mix. If I understand correctly, modern technology has tended to accelerate the generation of rhinos Enthusiastic Gyre Participants vs how it was in Benedict’s time. How will technology affect generation of these anti-gyrological cells analogous to the Benedictines?

    Or, has technology perhaps usefully increased the size of the objects that can be pulled from The Gyre, assuming that the would-be rescuer sects or cells are small enough in scope but not necessarily so small in scale as before?

  6. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Positively AND perilously, I think.

    Just so, and very cleverly put! That’s our theory behind the Pack, anyway. We think an epistemic community can be sustained at a higher scale than before so long as the scope remains sufficiently narrow. I still think that scale is well below “all of us.” But to expand on the peril point above, I think that social media is not just a multiplier or accelerator of memetic content; it is a transformer, an epimemetic overlay, if you will. It is very hard to do anything on social media and not be subject to the gravity of the gyre.

  7. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Shhh! We don’t use words like ‘sects’ and ‘cells’ (even though that’s exactly what we mean) because the Nudging Entities have already neutralized them with ‘religious’ and ‘terrorist’, respectively. Yours in service to the Pack …

  8. Thanks for another outstanding piece Rusty, I’ll read and further digest it for a third time later.
    There are certain aspects of the mainstream American Cultural scene where I am a complete heathen - defined in this case by not watching the Superbowl or TV sports in general. Even if the game is good the excessive hype and ad-pitching is a turn-off, and the slopes are empty on SB Sunday!
    How have other countries fared culturally from a decline in Church participation? Have their communities become as divided as ours in that process, or have they maintained a greater civility (than us) in spite of it? Many European countries have had drastic declines in church attendance/religious affiliation, yet it seems that they aren’t suffering the same strife as us and I wonder why ie. is there something we can learn from them? Some Pack members live in Europe, so would be curious as to their input since my 4 years in Vienna as a teen in the late ‘70s is….ahem….outdated.

  9. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing the link Rusty. I don’t recall if I listened to that one when it came out or not. I’ll give it a listen and be curious if you mention William S. Lind.

    Twitter is good for discovering things and I came across this researcher there. I always wondered why a certain kind of intelligent social media troll always seemed to be so enamored with the idea of “cultural marxism”. If any of you readers have ever found yourself uttering that ridiculous phrase, you best know where it comes from and what song you are singing by repeating it.

  10. Avatar for Laura Laura says:

    I can’t help myself from being extremely cynical on this topic! I’m wondering if Church is such a business in Europe. Anyone can found a religion here if they can convince the IRS to give them tax exempt status. I imagine that just like with other types of incorporation, part of the genius of our system is being able to fill out some paperwork, pay a fee, and start a business, I mean church.

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