Monday, August 12, 2013

Cycles of Time

I recently started reading "The Fourth Turning" by Strauss and Howe. I was inspired to finally get the book (which I've heard about since the late 90's) by Aurini's hour long "Generational Theory and the Upcoming Crisis" video. At present, I'm reading Chapter 4 of the book. I have quite a way to go, but I'm enjoying the concept.

I have long since come to recognize that time seems to flow in cycles. At least, time may be linear, but culture, history, and society flow in cycles. 

I notice when I read cultural commentary or discuss culture with friends, most people seem to assume that whatever trends we're under will continue to escalate until everything unravels and civilization falls apart. But that is not what happens. 

Take, for instance, the increasing age at which people leave home. Would you be surprised to learn a similar pattern emerged in the 1920's, then obviously reversed? I hear a lot about the increasing age at which people marry. Some seem to predict this trend will continue until nobody marries prior to menopause, and nobody has children, then society will collapse. But how realistic is that?

I have written a little bit about what the manosphere calls "game". Guys who go out and try to pick up women claim that even overweight 5's and 6's are hard to get anymore, because they're so used to "beta orbiters" showering them with attention and validation. I have seen this trend on Facebook with some girls I know; how the "beta orbiters" move in with every comment the girl makes. 

Some game writers, like Roosh, seem to conclude that western women are a lost cause and move to Eastern Europe where the women are more feminine and less westernized. Where they don't have to spend 90% of a date responding to text messages and posting to Facebook.

I'm sure the trend will reverse eventually. I'm just not sure if the reversal will come in time to do me any good.

I ended up caught in the crossfire of the no-fault divorce trend that started apparently in the 60's and is probably peaking or near the peak. As the economy unravels I'm sure some women will begin to realize they need a provider besides the state or their career. (See Aurini's "The Corporate Boyfriend").

As I'm reading The Fourth Turning (which I highly recommend), I'm starting to see partly why history flows in cycles. In a period of about four generations, whenever something happens, it will affect each generation according to where they are in life when the event occurs. According to Strauss and Howe, with a cycle of four generations, there are alternating crises and awakenings. These imprint on each generation differently.

Consider my generation, which we call Generation X. We're also the 13th generation to be born as Americans.In Stauss and Howe's paradigm, we fit the generational archetype of the nomad. There are also four turnings or eras that flow through this  generational cycle, and the generational archetypes occur like this:

A Prophet generation is born during a high
A Nomad generation is born during an Awakening
A Hero generation is born during an Unraveling
An  Artist generation is born during a Crisis
(P19)

Note that these are archetypes. This does not mean that every member of the Hero generation is a hero; only that their generation in the cycle fits a certain archetype. I tried to explain this to two members of the current hero generation and I had to get a huge pin to let the air out of their egos. Likewise, not every member of an artist generation is artistic; only that they fit an archetype that was overprotected by the prior hero generation that gave birth to them. They also come of age during a high, so they enter adulthood at a different stage and it impacts the character of their generation differently. Also note that from here on out in this post, I use the terms "boomer" and "prophet" interchangeably. I am referring to the current generation called Baby Boomers who fit the archetype of the prophet generation in the current cycle.

So going back to the depression and World War II, the Artists were born about that time, during the generational crisis. Now remember that one generation doesn't necessarily give birth to the next. My dad was born in 1946, so I always assumed he was a boomer, and I'm Gen X, but this isn't the case as the line between the artists and boomer prophets isn't clearly defined. It's "approximately 1946". 

The Baby Boomer prophet generation was born during the high following WWII. My nomad Gen X generation was born during the "Consciousness Awakening" of the 60's and 70's. We were largely underprotected, in fact we were the generation called "latchkey kids", since often both our parents worked and we came home to a box of cereal and television. 

The current Millennial "hero" generation was born during the unraveling when my generation came of age. Apparently, my generation will give birth to the next cycle of artists. Since we were largely underprotected, we're likely to overprotect our children, although that may be hard to do because as part of the unraveling, my soon to be ex wife decided to divorce me.

Let's pause here to consider how coming of age in different parts of this cycle will affect you. I came of age in the 90's, at a time when suddenly you weren't guaranteed employment. The prior generations had told me to find a good job and stick with it. That didn't happen for me. And the current millennial "hero" generation is also finding it harder than I did, but most of them were forced to go to college. So now they have expensive degrees and student loans, and can't find work. Consider how this will affect their generation later in life, compared to the artist and prophet generations graduated high school and could realistically expect to stay with one job for 20-40 years. 

The hero generation millennials are coming of age during the current crisis part of the cycle, which the authors projected to start somewhere in the mid 00's (the book was copyrighted in 1997). They project the crisis to peak around 2025. They have no idea what the crisis will be, only that it will follow the pattern. I'm trying to figure out myself what the crisis will be. I'm coming up empty unless it has to do with massive government debt and economic bubbles based on popular flawed Keynesian models. Maybe it will be another war. I don't know.

At the time the hero generation is coming of age, my nomad generation is entering midlife. So whatever the crisis is, we'll probably shoulder most of the work, but they'll grow up getting the credit for it.

The authors made an interesting point with Star Wars. These generational archetypes in the context of the Star Wars universe would put Han Solo as a nomad, looking down at Luke Skywalker's hero generation and looking up at Darth Vader and Obi Won's prophet generation that created the freaking mess in the first place. Boomers frustrate me.

Although as I read this book, I'm finding an assumption I operated under might be incorrect to a point. I tend to blame a lot of the cultural mess (the unraveling preceding the crisis) on the Baby Boomer generation. I could be wrong. It is currently the artist generation that is still largely running the show prior to their retirement. Artists as an archetype are known for being compromisers. I'm thinking some of our mess could be the artists screwing things up combined with the boomers slowly taking over.

My prediction to the mess the boomers put us into is that they are too lazy, too stupid, too impatient, and too ignorant to hide their mess and corruption like the previous generations did. I don't think boomers are any less corrupt than any other generation in history. They're just not as good at hiding it. Look at things like MF Global and NSA spying. They're not even trying to hide it.

The media is so damned obvious about what it won't report on, it's comical. I've been saying for weeks that Edward Snowden should change his name to Ben Ghazi. Then you'd never hear a word about him because the "mainstream media" won't touch Benghazi. Or change his name to Kermit Goznell. Same thing. He'll be out of media mention immediately. 

Wait until my nomad generation gets in charge. At least we'll be able to hide our corruption better. AND WE'LL LET YOU TELEWORK! Something the boomers and artists are afraid of. I guess they think everybody else is as stupid and lazy as they are, and if they let us telework, we'll f*ck off just like they do. So they force us to sit in traffic every day because they have no objective way to measure work besides your butt being in a chair. Like we're cranking out widgets or cheeseburgers or something.

I can't help it. It's long been a point of generational frustration for me.

This is just three and a half chapters into the book. It's fascinating to me. I highly recommend it. Please consider buying it from my Amazon affiliate link to help me through my fukenfurloren and divorce.

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