Cities of Light and the New Age

May 3, 2011

If you do a websearch for the title of this blog, one of the main things you find is sites or posts devoted to a New Age image of urban abundance filled with beautiful luminescence. I knew this when i chose the name for my site but there are some big differences between these kinds of visions and the idea i have in mind. I can explain this difference with reference to the way i see myth and creativity.

In short, i believe there is something mythic about the way we live today. For me, this is the attempt to create paradise in urban plenty, where we can have anything we want  (think the all night, well-lit shopping mall) whenever we want it and forever (consider the way the media protrays the quest for more power, so that we can sustain, if not keep improving, our lavish lifestyles in the face of ecological crisis). Yeah, i think capitalist (and totalitarian!) consumption has some real questions to answer on this, i might as well ‘fess up right away.

Now i’m not alone when it comes to serious critical philosophers on this point; but i also think there is something wonderful about myth, full of potential and promise that we can discover as we open up to life in its myriad colours and challenges. If the modern city of light is filled with promise that is both spiritual and material, that is because we humans are clever enough to have figured out a way to surround ourselves in light and abundance. The problem is not only the carbon exuded by all that burning up of fossil fuels, either; it is also species depletion, desertification, ocean acidification, etc…

But the thing is, maybe we can do it. Maybe we can create a kind of paradise on this planet, where light makes us feel beautiful and loved and spiritually refreshed, without it costing the earth. For one thing, we could have a better relationship with darkness – and not be so symbolically scared by it as we seem to be. For another, we could rediscover the enchantment of everyday life that accompanies human consciousness in the body, and be a bit happier with what we have, instead of always questing after more. My anti-consumption rant is not a form of asceticism, though – it’s a call to more and deeper celebration!

So what is wrong with the New Age version of the City of Light? One of the things that bugs me is the seeming lack of political will. It seems as if the New Age goal can be reached as long as we all learn to vibrate at a higher level, meditate more, focus on love and follow our dreams. Actually most of that sounds OK to me – as long as we realise that without the rest of the community (including other animals and types of diversity!), without activism, without engagement at industrial and governmental levels, it amounts to wishful thinking, escapism, pretty pictures to make us feel better when we go to bed.

If we are going to transform today’s Cities of Light into tomorrow’s, with as many of the creatures still alive on this planet as there are today, with less carbon pumping into the air, with a political and material community of souls sharing the planet with a generous spirit, then we will have a vision worth waiting up for. That’s the kind of vision this site is named after.


One comment

  1. Great Post 😀
    Thought you might like my machinima film,
    To The Venus Project

    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

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