NOTICE: Album to playlist | HubCitySPOKES
I am sure you have heard the many catastrophic descriptions of the times our country is going through. Loud voices declare that this is a season of decadence; devastation is all around us, they cry; old traditions fray and the center does not hold. They talk about the constant barrage of natural disasters in the west: massive forest fires as well as a decade-long drought; and global temperatures and sea levels are rising. Then there are the social upheavals: the shift to authoritarian regimes across the world, the almost daily mass shootings and the proliferation of domestic terrorist groups and I could go on, and so do you. What’s going on?
There was once a consensus on many things, both natural and social, that must be taken up today: that the justice system was reliable and fair; that these melting glaciers only needed a few harsh winters to recover. But these assumptions were just that, simple assumptions. The world most of us inhabit has turned in the direction of disarray and violence.
But I prefer a milder term than decadence or devastation for what is going on around us: unbundling, a term now commonly used by a wide variety of social observers and a term which I think is more useful then. as we work our way through this thicket we here is an analogy the term is based on: instead of buying an album that may include songs that you really don’t like; people are now creating their own playlists. The album represents a collection of assumptions and commitments that I once depended on. I might not like them all, but I could live with the package as a whole.
But now many of us have discovered that this “album”, this set of assumptions and commitments, can be “unbundled” and the tracks separated, leaving me to choose only the ones I like. I can actually create my own playlist, my own unique “album” of assumptions and commitments that I can rely on to live my life. It will be made up of several tracks from this album, several tracks from other albums, and maybe several tracks of my own composition.
Two implications seem to flow from this social playlist theory. First, people are harder to classify. There is no title for my unique playlist. It’s not Abbey Road or Bridge Over Troubled Water or No Fences. This opens up questions about her personal identity: who am I now and where do I fit among all these other unique playlists around me? Second, the institutions are weakened. In the past, political parties had their own albums. Religious denominations had theirs. The universities had theirs. But not anymore. Institutional albums have been “ungrouped”, individual tracks have been scattered, institutions have been ransacked.
Another reason I’m drawn to the notion of “unbundling” is that it’s not all bad. In fact, not ranking others too easily is a good thing. Making pigeons for others is only a step before pure and simple prejudices. And as far as institutions are concerned, some simply have to disappear, and others need serious reform. Unbundling can be a good thing.
In addition, unbundling can predict disaster, and it can also predict hope. This is what we do as we become adults and hopefully what we continue to do throughout our lifetimes as we adjust to an ever-unknown future and engage in the inevitable joys and tragedies. of life.
Creating your own playlist is therefore a natural process, and therein lies the possibility of hope. Reason forces us to develop a more or less cohesive set of tracks in our unique playlists. Some of us do it unconsciously, and some of us do it consciously. Either way, it is the work of the human species that is given to all of us. In the next few columns, I will explore this essential work of unbundling and regrouping which is our common vocation. Here’s a clue of where it’s going, well captured in the prophetic words of Israeli poet Yehud Amichai:
“From where we are right, flowers will not grow in the spring.
The place where we are right is hard and trampled, like a courtyard.
But doubts and loves dig up the world, like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard where the ruined house once stood.
Dick Conville is a retired university professor and longtime Hattiesburg resident. He can be contacted at [email protected]