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Solastalgia Notes II

Original post on Solastalgia here.

The victim has a subjective feeling of having been irreparably damaged and having undergone an irreversible personality change. He or she has a sense of foreshortened future without expectation of a career, marriage, children, or normal lifespan (Istanbul Protocol, 1999, p. 47).

Cited from “What is a ‘sense of foreshortened future?’ A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time”

I return to Sterling often, because I feel that he nailed the aesthetic of Dark Euphoria when it was still nascent and subcultural. He claimed it would define the 2010s, and that what would follow afterwards was a sense of loss and exhaustion, “the feeling of dislocation without having gone anywhere, as a result of damage (natural or artificial) to your ecosystem.”

Many of us anticipate most things with habitual confidence. It does not occur to us that we will be deliberately struck by a car as we walk to the shop to buy milk or that we will be assaulted by the stranger we sit next to on a train. There is a sense of security so engrained that we are oblivious to it. Indeed, the more at home we are in the world, the less aware we are that “feeling at home in the world” is even part of our experience 

Cited from “What is a ‘sense of foreshortened future?’ A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time”

In my old post around Dark Euphoria, I tied Sterling’s cultural scripts to (1) Venkatesh Rao’s ‘life scripts’ and (2) the political animus of Martin Gurri’s ‘Nihilist’. I tried to argue that this cultural sensibility enables certain behaviors, and that these behaviors made special sense under this sensibility. In my post on Solastalgia, I didn’t talk about behaviors and life scripts, although I did repeat Bruce’s language about Post-Traumatic Response.

A sense that the future is bereft of positive, meaningful life events is equally a sense that one’s meaningful life is in the past, finished. So remarks to the effect that the future has nothing to offer are sometimes accompanied by the claim that one has died, that part of one has died, or that one persists but no longer “lives:” “I felt as though I’d somehow outlived myself” (Brison, 2002, p. 9). This corresponds to a wider phenomenon that Freeman (2000, p. 90) has called “narrative foreclosure,” defined as “the premature conviction that one’s life story has effectively ended: there is no more to tell; there is no more than can be told.” It is not simply that the person believes she does not have much time left; the traumatic event somehow disrupts her ongoing life story such that the story ceases to be sustainable. (A “life story,” for current purposes, is a meaningful, coherent interpretation of past activities, relationships, achievements, and failures, which also includes a sense of where one is heading – what one’s cares, commitments, and projects currently consist of, and what one seeks to achieve.)

Cited from “What is a ‘sense of foreshortened future?’ A phenomenological study of trauma, trust, and time”

I think that the heart of most presumed knowledge is social proof and appeal to authority. Reality is too big to take informed positions on every aspect that you even casually encounter, so this appears to me to be a reasonable behavior.

Regardless of its reasonableness, it does seem to be the case. Humans are social creatures, and who we trust is the first layer of our memetic immune response. The particular ideas that you’re exposed to and your openness to it is in large part a coincidence of your social environment. Who you trust, rather than intelligence or social acumen, appears to be the separator between the normie and the conspiracy theorist, the cultist, the nihilist, and the traumatized.

(It is true that the internet allows for a greater degree of stewardship about who “your neighbors” are, and what your social environment looks like.)

It is also true that the internet social environment itself is hungry for your attention, and will also nudge your steering wheel into the groves that people before you, people perhaps not unlike you, stumbled into and may have struggled to leave.

We rely on a network of others, not just to survive or to keep ourselves entertained but also to support our capacity to make sense of the world, to distinguish between reality and illusion, and even to tell where our own bodily existence begins and ends.

I believe the experts that anthropogenic climate change is a real phenomenon, and that this phenomenon is likely to incur tremendous costs. I agree that both preemptive collective action and local resilience are both viable and not-necessarily-contradictory strategies.

In the era after Dark Euphoria, a loss of trust in institutions, expertise, and the future in general are not obviously unreasonable.

But regardless of its reasonableness, it does seem to be the case.

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