What Is Boring Culture?

Boring culture is shorthand for the hyper bureaucratic, imagination-impoverished world of dry information, endless grey roads and mass-produced experience.

(From left to right: Rene Descartes, Marin Mersenne, Old Newton (young Newton was alright), and Pierre Gassendi – the High Priests of Boring Culture).

Boring Culture is the world of the high-functioning bureaucrat described by Iain McGhilchrist in The Master and His Emissary.

It’s the one Laurie Shepherd sings about in Miles and Miles, where you feel like you’re living inside a world of ‘cyberclouds, number fields, grey cabinets heavy with files, alphabetized for miles and miles and miles.’

Yes, there are many wonderful things about present day culture, but this newsletter is not about presenting a safe and balanced opinion. If you’re basically satisfied with ‘Western Civilisation’ then Talismans Against Boring Culture definitely isn’t for you.

Something has been happening over the last few millennia, and especially the last four hundred years, where our capacity to experience ourselves as an intrinsic part of a fourteen billion year old mystery has been eroded.

The more sophisticated Christian mystics realised what being ousted from the garden really meant. Artists like William Blake tried to repair the bridge, as did scientists with the souls of poets, but Descartes gave that bridge a serious hammering in the 1600s and the Priests of the Left Hemisphere have been chipping away ever since.

But as the musician Richard Dawson sings in The Magic Bridge:

We have a bond that can never be broken.’

That’s because our roots into the planet’s life go far deeper than any of the forces that try to separate us.

‘Our bodies have formed themselves in delicate reciprocity with the manifold textures, sounds, and shapes of an animate earth – our eyes have evolved in subtle interaction with other eyes, as our ears are attuned by their very structure to the howling of wolves and the honking of geese.’

– David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous

Beneath the plastic veneer of Boring Culture there is an infinitely deep root system that reaches down through the tarmac, past the buried rubble of fallen shopping centres, sipping trace elements from the transmuted marrow of Descartes’ skull as it ambles deep down into Memoria, where the ghosts of Heraclitus and Da Vinci are shouting encouragement, and where the local star that shines behind them is the same star that spills through the copper wiring beneath your house, delivering electric ink to your screen from the transformed fire of the sun.

We are surrounded by wonders. How do we see them afresh?

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