“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fast Food Religion

Pure Evil

Fundamentalism is really a form of consumerism. So easy, no mess no fuss. You are what you eat, and what you eat is belief.

Fundamentalist belief is automated. No real action is required, no sacrifice, no kenosis, no long dark night of the soul. Heaven forbid! Jesus is something you can “get,” hence the not-such-a-parody of the milk ad: “God Jesus?” Likewise evil is something you can chuck out with the garbage. The less you think, the more righteous you are. Doubt is akin to Satanism. Even worse, inward-turning is the very form of evil. Fundamentalism enforces compulsory extraversion.

Fundamentalist evil is waste and fundamentalism is a waste disposal system. Fundamentalism thus supports the ontological u-bend that is a basic feature of modernity. This is the u-bend that carries the waste in your toilet to a place called “away.” It's in a totally different realm now. No need to worry about unblocking your ontological toilet. It's never backed up. The evil is someone else's problem.

Fundamentalism's ostensible hostility to modernity takes the form of a closing sale. The end times are coming, so buy now while stocks last! And like fast food, fundamentalism makes you feel guilty right after you've been cleansed. You just have to reach for that hit one more time. It's about maintaining the perfect attitude, by consuming objects in the right way.

Isn't it inescapable then that the inverse is also true: consumerism is fundamentalist. By enforcing a cynical distance towards its objects, consumerism turns them into hard little pills or pellets that define your identity. I'm a Nike wearer, you are a Baptist.

The trouble is that this cynicism is also the default mode of critique, so that the entire configuration space of modernity is taken up with the fundamentalist easy-clean mode.

The entire configuration space depends upon an ontological u-bend. Bad for ecology.

Speculative realism removes the component that damages Earth


Alex Reid said...

Do you think this is as true for Islamic fundamentalism as it is for Christian?

Timothy Morton said...

Yes. Partly created and fomented by CIA and Reagan in any case...

Timothy Morton said...

...hence Saaed Qutb's memoir of Greeley CO obsessed with lawns and naked flesh.