Back in 1950 sociologist David Riesman distinguished between a majority, “which passively accepted commercially provided styles and meanings, and a ‘subculture’ which actively sought a minority style and interpreted it in accordance with subversive values”.
I have a seemingly innate aversion to everything mainstream; whatever is mass feels like plague to me personally. Not that i want it like that – but the rule of thumb is – the more something is mainstream, the more it will make me sick in my stomach, be it books, movies, fashion, way of eating or anything else per that matter.
Maybe it’s because i grew up within uravnilovka , the infamous Soviet leveling where any trace of individuality was suppressed – and in many cases, persecuted.
Far from egotism of deviant Ayn Rand (i am all for social democracy), but forcing entire nations to wear the same clothes, watch the same movies and read the same books to me equals to mass murder. Don’t think the so-called free world is that progressive in comparison with once-commies, it only has way more subtle ways of persuasion – and intimidation.
We discussed recently with Australian author Dianne Gray the cult movie Idiocracy – i wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of it, but take my word – it’s a must see… Yet it was simply ignored and somehow pushed under the rug – because it mocks and warns about the idiocies we are served by mass media and sold by corporations – and the immediate danger this fostered entropy leads to.
It goes without saying that it’s way easier to manipulate a flock of sheep than a group of individuals, and that’s exactly what’s society trying to do – making us easy to handle. I don’t think some evil genius is behind it all, i don’t believe in conspiracy theories – it’s the force of entropy, of the decay of social structure combined with the political leaders’ false assumption that they know better. They don’t, but the philosophy starts where the belly is full – and if the majority is driven to poverty and dumbed down , then you’ll witness what i did back in commie times: the same party leaders who publicly bowed to the “people”, in private referred to them as being “cattle”.
I am an educator myself, my own PhD thesis is in methods of teaching and i do know that when intellectual curiosity and analytic thinking are encouraged – most of the young (and not so young) adults do flourish, not to mention kids who are somewhere until the age of 11 naturally in the zone.
We as humanity don’t need millions of unskilled workers anymore as automation of production took over and we can actually focus on providing better overall conditions for everyone – and that includes decent education as a priority and encouragement of creative expression as well. (On another hand – of course i think birthrate should be controlled somehow – bringing up “Idiocracy” once again – it is indeed the poorest and the least educated that biologically reproduce the most and no one needs that as this planet is overcrowded as it is.)
Until we as humanity make a quantum leap and come up with some genius solution for our malaises – we have counter-cultures as tools for subversion of the existing (dis)order.
I like causes and ways of living to which comparatively small groups of people are devoted fanatically – myself, i am a vegan, a Tarot collector and last but not the least – an observant Jew. The latter might come across as contradiction in terms as there are very few things around, if any, more ancient than Jewish religious observance – yet nowadays it is indeed – a subculture; small percentage of Jews in US are observant, and that percentage is even tinier in Europe.
Not to mention that being a vegan in Balkans which is traditionally carnivore is plain odd and that collecting rare and expensive packs of cards comes across as is even more weird to the most.
Explaining yourself is futile – those who share the same passion get it anyway and those who don’t – never will. The same with subcultures of ballet dancers and skinnies.
Here is a most interesting article on the world of ballet dancers – Behind the Curtain: The Body, Control, and Ballet by sociologist Paula T. Kelso, it’s based on Suzanne Gordon’s Off balance: The real world of ballet and Benn and Walters’ 2001 study.*
Two of my own tribes are mostly struggling with weight; Jews i think due to the humorous, yet somewhat accurate depiction of the way we celebrate the holidays (the proverbial “they tried to kill us, we won, now lets eat”) and Tarotists – i am not sure why, but it does seem there is something behind the story of physical body expanding because the influence, not to say – attack, of foreign energies onto empath’s energy field is enormous, as mumbo jumbo as it might sound. (For the record, being a doctoral student myself – i do not seek scientific back up for every single occurrence under the sun; for myself, out of academia, i don’t need it and i gave up long ago persuading others into anything – so that i would actually need a plethora of scientific facts to come across as credible… Believe whatever rocks your boat, it does not concern me.)
I loved Maya Plisetskaya in Lady With A Lapdog – and i doubt i’d ever get a chance to see her performance, wasn’t i accompanying in 1985 my father , back then secretary of state of Montenegro – on his official visit to Russia.
She was over sixty back then and a big part of her art was performed – by arms and hands… But what a prima ballerina can express with her arms is beyond verbal, it’s… magical.
As much as admire Maya – and all in all have great respect for the art of ballet – i would never, not for the life of me, subject neither myself nor my hypothetical kid to that rigorous way of living. Yet the truth is that i’ve done crazier things in my own fields – and am more than proud of it albeit it indeed comes across as crazy to the most.
(That being said, there is no definition of “crazy” – except for being different from the most and in my book it’s a compliment.)
Today i met by chance once the first lady whose protocolar escort i used to be, she looks gorgeous, like a model – not only she is a beautiful woman, but she is really thin. I had asked her jokingly to breath into my face as there is always that tiny chance that such looks are contagious, she laughed and said: you know it’s genetics! And with her it is indeed, as maintained as she is – she genetically has the body of a dancer with long limbs and tiny frame.
I have an uber-cool and pretty neighbor who does have big bones, yet is also slim and fit and of course i admire her because i know what an effort and discipline it takes; i am not that devoted to being slim, but i have fat genes and mine keeping on the fitter/healthier side takes an enormous effort too… Which is – it’s the very discipline and being different i admire in others, not the body per se.
Back in 80ies we had Fit for Life , nowadays we have Skinny Bitch.
Both are criticized for lack of scientific evidence – yet what was “scientifically proven”, the infamous late food pyramid has driven entire nations into epidemics of obesity.
What if it’s All Been a Big Fat Lie? Well, it was – and even Atkins was a healthier way of eating than that.
I don’t like Skinny Bitch’s author(s) writing style – maybe because i am from Eastern Europe and we had enough of being patronized – and even verbally harassed; as a book it’s lousy if you ask me, but what they advocate, pure veganism, is awesome because it’s based not only on concerns for your own health like in 80ies, but on concern for other living beings; they are taking Diamond’s philosophy to a whole new level and for that they have my unreserved support.
So, yeah… All in all, whatever it is that makes you personally very different and even odd in the eyes of majority – is the very reason i do love you.
The Washington Post’s tribute to Maya’s 80th birthday
*Between Scylla and Charybdis. Nutritional education versus body culture and the ballet aesthetic: the effects on the lives of female dancers.