The Unforseen Costs of Civilisation

By Samyak Sibasish

We are seeing the same kind of unconscious shift in peoples’ thinking towards an enlightened perspective of openness. They’ve been exposed to the entirety of knowledge that the human race has accrued and cataloged – at least that which has survived the years.

The problem is that we are a society of breadth with no centralizing force to channel that ultimate, untapped well of human creative potential.

There is a book by a geneticist at Cornell entitled, “Pandora’s Seed: The Unforseen Costs of Civilization“.

He argues that since the advent of agriculture and the development of a modern civilization, until the enlightenment in the 1700s, there was an absolutely horrifying restructuring of society towards greater and greater disparity.

That as we have become progressively addicted to excess simply to elevate ourselves as individuals, we’ve created ways of legitimizing the deification of production, namely a consumer society and a rational mode of governance & law.

So while, discoveries in science and inventions in technology have led us forward, we have kept ourselves back my repressing the part of ourselves that craves a simpler lifestyle, a more peaceful environment, and more time to simply enjoy the world around us.

This is becoming evident in the sorts of diseases that plague countries that have adopted this fiercely materialist brand of capitalism, such as Diabetes (or insulin resistance in general), COPD (Problems with connections between the vascular system and the lungs), heart disease, Obesity, etc. etc. They are all diseases of excess.

A psychiatrist also took a look at the same effect in American Mania, and argued that the cycles in the market economy reflected a similar cycle in psychiatry – manic depression.

He went on to do a number of interviews with executives, and to argue that the fast paced lifestyle of today is simply not sustainable for the human mind or body.

Eventually we break down, and we wear out — we get sloppy, we get lazy, we started to automate things, we lose our moral compasses, etc. It’s exactly like mania.

That’s what happened with the recent economic crash. A bunch of traders on Cloud 9 with billions of dollars thought they could game the system because they were caught up in the game themselves – they tricked themselves into believing what they were doing didn’t have real consequences, they were manic!

Why is it the starving artist? Why not the starving banker?

pandora's seed, the unforeseen costs of civilisation

Going back to Pandora’s Seed, there was a point he made that really struck a chord with me.

He said at this point in the evolution of civilization, we have all but forgotten the element of Mythos that was pivotal to a healthy society, as thought by the Greeks who ventured a guess based on their interactions with every culture on Eurasia.

Every great civilization included in their guide to a healthy society a prescription for a system that fostered the creative energies that are the very things that make us human.

Instead we are sprinting headlong into our demise by chasing a truth hidden behind the disguises of Logos.

The truth is that Logos in only the other side of ourselves, made meaningless without the tempering forces of Mythos to allow us to abide by the tyranny of the truth by reveling equally in the freedom of our own unique minds.

It is only fair to allow people to choose their own destiny without fear of making enough money because their skills aren’t marketable. Because they can’t get a job. Because they were never taught that their skill was valuable.

Why is it the starving artist? Why not the starving banker?

All one needs to do is to take a lesson from nature, simply look at the human body. There are numbers of cells, and each with a unique job, each cared for equally well with what is provided to whole, each work in sync with the next, and each never questioning what they were born to do. We can’t fight an idea that’s worked for billions of years.

We can’t fight the laws of this place we inhabit by using equations and technology – if we overproduce, eventually equilibrium re-establishes itself.

So people ARE talking!

All kinds of people, rich, poor, inside the system, outside the system – they’re starting to talk. I think the real remaining issue is that there is no truly “independent” entity that could mobilize the resources for a campaign to spread this message.

I think while people are realizing it, it remains untapped. That potential can only be unlocked when there’s power to make it flow.

Power in this society has all been monopolized by a pretty small group, relative to the population. There has to be a united front that rises to challenge the notion that there is no value to art and general creative activities beyond a monetary one. One with a substantial backing of force, not necessarily violent, but with a presence.

It’s going to happen within the next few generations, that’s for sure, but eventually, we’ll either fester in our unconscious realizations for enough time and be taken hostage by the collapse of everything we’ve worked to keep standing, or we’ll rise to meet the challenge of a new era and stop rejecting an essential component of a fulfilling life.

I just hope it’s the latter, and I hope this thing bursts wide open soon – otherwise, underneath the surface, we’ll all fall apart soon knowing that something is missing.

Samyak is a 1st year student at NUJS, Kolkata.

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  1. Glad to know another feels similarly!
    I have always felt that art is the expression of the meta-human in us; it is the closest we can get to the eternal in a temporally-bound life. Yet, it is repressed. What runs the world isn’t even Logos anymore – look at what is truly the nature of ‘securitization’ – it’s layered speculation! Oddly enough, not many seem to notice, as long as the fat paycheck keeps coming.
    Anyway, all the best with law school. From someone who’s been through it – you’re going to have a tough ride! 🙂

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