In storytelling, artifice and theater are evocative and necessary. In the best case, dramatic storytelling can lift us from the detritus of our mundane little anthills to another realm where we can imagine the pure forms and great ideas that inspire and impart deep wisdom and meaning.
The tragedy of the “post-modern” world of images is that for so many, artifice and theatrical drama have eclipsed the real. In this world of appearances and poses, every costume is disposable and the person is a mere actor, a blank slate, a ravenously hungry, ever- emptying digestive tract that grinds everything into waste.
For the commercial multiculturalist, culture is a folk hat and gender is a pose or “attitude.” Everything is à la carte. Urban lumberjacks, land-locked surfers and cul-de-sac hip hop. Rabbi chic. Eskimo. Islam. Ferrari. Blue Steel. The ideals that once guided the lives of men are reduced to oily residues that one can splash on and wash off according to mood or occasion. There is no true commitment for the everyday actor, the Homo Californicus. There is only desire and sensation and social approval.
I was walking through a mall yesterday. Malls are always a deluge of stupid, but a window display for this caught my eye.
Why not Eau de “Christianity?”
"Allahu Akbar!" an explosive new body spray from AXE?
In a way, it’s all fairly harmless.
But it also struck me as highly symbolic of the marriage of convenience between commercial values and multicultural relativism. Someone can blend together a few essences that smell nice, and then sacralize their fragrance product by giving it a name associated with an idea so powerful that millions of men have died seeking or protecting it. Now, without going to all the trouble, young suburban metrosexuals can squirt themselves with a little “honor” and head out for a night at "da club" with a vague sense of attachment to something beautiful and meaningful. A vague sense of being the kind of man who would stand his ground, protect his reputation, who would fight for a cause or to protect his people.
One of the private challenges for any sort of radical traditionalist seems to be wresting meaning back from the marketplace that degrades it.
Postmodern consumerism is passive and easy.
Sincerity is subversive.
…and as they increase in years, so they increase in prowess and in skill in the art of arms for peace and for war. And they themselves, through their great zeal and determination, learn the true way to practice the military arts until they, on every occasion, know how to strive toward the most honorable course of action, whether in relation to deeds of arms or in relation to other forms of behavior appropriate to their rank. Then they reflect on, inform themselves, and inquire how to conduct themselves most honorably in all circumstances. They do this quickly and gladly, without waiting for admonitions or exhortations.
-- Geoffroi de Charny, The Book of Chivalry