Acknowledging the supremacy of twitter, I will use tweet threads as inspiration for my writing when I can’t seem to come up with something to talk about. Today, this twitter thread regarding the inexorability of Christianity from Liberalism has caught my eye.
Socially, we’ve been at a crossroads for quite sometime. The cracks in the seam are losing their integrity and the need for a paradigmatic shift in philosophy is apparent. Anyone who knows me is aware that I stan Alexander Bard, and this has been the thesis of his books for quite sometime. If we do not find a way to address the concerns and realities of the internet age, we will not be able to move forward.
The retweeted tweet is the one that I want to focus in on. You cannot build any ethics (read: rules of engagement) without aesthetics first. Ethics differs slightly from morality. It’s not necessarily “good vs. bad” it’s moreso correct vs. incorrect behavior. If you consider ethics as correct action, or prudent behavior, then you realize that this is inextricable from your aesthetic sensibilities. You will act in accordance with what your ideal situation or ideal outcome looks like. All persons do this, whether its leftists whose aesthetic ideal is the rejection of a singular ideal, an aesthetics of miasma; or those with ethnonational aesthetics, etc.
What would a wholly materialist aesthetic be like? In order to parse this notion, we need to understand what makes the Christian aesthetic associate so heavily with liberalism in the first place. Christ on the cross is Humanism as ideal. The Old Testament is defined by humans making sacrifices to God. Man, subservient to God, sacrifices what was precious to them, e.g. goats, lambs, etc., in order to appease their God and gain good fortune. It’s a ritualistic reminder that Man must put aside the short-term in favor of long-term benefit. Just like we know that we should probably put down the donuts if we want to look shredded for summer, the sacrifices to God were a ritualistic reminder of this.
The Aesthetic of the Cross is powerful because it’s God, coming down to Earth and living as Man, experiencing pain, temptation, etc. and then offering Himself as living sacrifice to humanity. Christ took on Original Sin on the Cross, and thus taking Humanity from the burden of atonement for Original Sin, and giving them the ability to have a “personal relationship” with God. Thus, followers of Christ will go to Heaven and everyone else will not. If I’m to translate the significance of this, it means we now have “free-will.” Humans are free to act ethically or unethically. The Individual and that Individuals actions alone will determine if they’re a follower of Christ. If we take this notion to its extreme, we end up with the Liberal ethic. The ethics of the Individual, first vocalized by Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” All of modernity, has been the gradual shift from a spiritual metaphysic to its telos as materialist humanism.
This shift from dualist theism to materialist humanism, was possible because it used spiritual symbolism as a seed for what ultimately became materialism. The problem has thus become, how do we cultivate the seed from materialism to make way for what is to come next? Aesthetics.
Aesthetic sensibilities are innate, they’re within our human animal. You bypass conscious thought and immediate hi-jack the “fitness” wiring. The wiring that determines instinctively whether the person you’re looking at is genetically fit. Whether your offspring will be healthy. This same circuitry allows for wonder and awe as well as the eureka moment. It’s the reason the Form of Beauty was subservient to the Form of the Good. It’s the God circuitry. I’m going to stop before I start sounding like a reddit-tier cringe black scientist, but you get the point.
The point is, if you’re going to make a major cultural shift, it’s going to require an aesthetic paradigm shift as well. Personally, I think if you align the aesthetic shift with the hegemonic shift from capital to attention you will get somewhere. As it stands, despite what people want to admit, the most cutting edge group of people in the world exist in online in places like 4chan and in frogtwitter (as well as adjacent twitterverses). This group of people, despite the packaging are consistently on the cutting edge of information and ideas. If you ever had an argument to refute this idea, it was defeated during the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and they confirmed the kill during this Coronavirus outbreak. Simple as.
This group also already understands the power of aesthetics and mimetics, what this group lacks however is access to attention. They very /online/ are great at manipulating the cultural tides via mimetics, but they’re not great at holding attention. It doesn’t help that they’re ideologically at odds with the gatekeepers who control the networks themselves. If their accounts are consistently demonetized and deplatformed, it makes it hard to continuously garner attention and develop power. Aesthetically, they have already latched onto the notion that what differentiates the right and left is an aesthetic power struggle. The Left is preoccupied with removing aesthetic ideals. They have decided that all ideals in modernity are rooted in cisheteronormativity, colonialism, and ableism. It’s the aesthetic equivalent of atheism; they reject a unifying aesthetic ideal. Alternatively, the frog-right (which I want to distinguish here from the alt-right or wignats more broadly) believe that a strong physique and aesthetic superiority are central in any ideological struggle. If we refer to the original twitter thread, this would be what the “larping as a Roman” comments were about. The Left’s aesthetic idea is found in the miasma while the Right is found in the Classical Roman solider.
To address the original question, a modern materialist aesthetic would be one which presents a path forward and similarly acts as a reminder of transcendence. What would the death of the Individual in favor of the dividual look like? What would be a reminder of monism taking supremacy over dualism be like?