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The Capitalist Grinch Who Stole Christmas

charleslb
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12/24/2012 2:16:44 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Okay, unless you're a comatose cave-dwelling hermit you're surely already quite well aware of the disturbing fact that the colonization of the Christmas holiday and spirit by commercialism & consumerism, by major-league mercantile purveyors of commercialism & consumerism such as Amazon.com, Macy's, and Apple, has been in overdrive for some time now. There's certainly no need for a rant to raise people's consciousness about a pernicious cultural phenomenon that everyone decries. The rampant retailification, i.e., the reorientation of "the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth" (as the dictionary so quaintly describes Christmas) in the direction of materialism is, however, merely a blotchy bit of a largely ignored bigger and more distressing picture of "Western civilization"s" ongoing descent into the inherent crassness and corruption of capitalism which it would behoove us to give a bit of critical thought to.

The seemingly benign mutation, the insidious inversion of Christmas from a religious holy day that once upon a time promoted an ethic of giving into a season of shopping that promotes an anti-ethic, as it were, of acquisitiveness, is indeed merely the tip of the destructive cultural iceberg, known as capitalism, that's taking out the wholesomeness and humanity not merely of our way of observing the holidays, but of our way of life in general.

Well, capitalism is, the whole socio-economico-cultural truth be told, not merely a productive economic system, it's a system of values, interests, and imperatives, vulgarly and virally economic in nature, which infect every dimension of human existence and rewrite the cultural DNA of our lives and mentalities. The gearing of society and life under capitalism in terms of the three Cs - capital, and its overriding dynamics; the cash nexus, and its reduction/debasement of human connectedness to impersonal economic transactions and relations; and commodification, the anti-humanistic reduction of all values and things, including ourselves, to economic values - relentlessly dominates and displaces other life orientations, such as authentic human sociality and spirituality, turning us into precisely the sort of thoroughly selfish and materialistic specimens of Homo economicus for whom Christmas has no meaning deeper than "getting stuff".

Come on now, a soulless gesellschaft sort of society based upon coldly "rational self-interest" and emotionless economics, in which merchants and manufacturers, bosses and businesses are all slaves to their addiction to capital and therefore don't care about anything except money; a humanly bleak form of anti-community in which, outside of a small circle of family and friends, most of us only socially interface with each other when engaging in productivity, rendering services, or exchanging goods for money; a merciless mode of production in which everything is objectified and valued monetarily rather than morally or aestherically; in such a capitalist wasteland is it any wonder that the "true spirit of Christmas" is no longer to be found in many a heart?

And of course not only do we individually lose sight of "the true spirit of Christmas", Christmas itself also has its cultural DNA thoroughly rewritten, its traditional esprit de humanitarianism is assimilated by the whole economistic ethos that prevails under capitalism, and by the economic imperative to turn it into a sales and profit generating occasion of spending and merry consumerism. Mm-hmm, the fundamental capitalist drive to overaccumulate wealth and capital knows no boundaries whatsoever, it colonizes all of life, including our formerly sacred holidays, in the name of economic stimulus and in the cause of creating corporate revenue.

In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol it's that quintessential capitalist Ebenezer Scrooge who's ultimately converted to the meaningful and compassionate values of Christmas, but alas we see that it works quite the other way around when it comes to the actual effects that Christmas and capitalism work upon each other. No, capitalism is hardly softened at all by Yuletide joy & love, it turns out, rather, that it's Christmas that's converted to the shallow and capitalistic values and swallowed up by the all-consuming and corrupting energies of a market economy.

Admittedly, this is hardly a new insight about capitalism. To quote the scholar Mark Poster, Marx quite prophetically, way back in the 19th century, "foresaw that capitalism would corrupt all values, moral, cultural, sexual, etc.,". Applying this critical insight about capitalism's penchant for subverting our sense of decency, community, and life's deeper truths to understanding the degeneration of our modern Christmas into a commercialized, desacralized shell of its former self we realize that it's certainly not an isolated sociological phenomenon that we're looking at. Rather, the commercialization of Christmas is in fact merely an outward symptom of a deeply pathological social and axiological state of affairs caused by the fundamental one-dimensionality of capitalism that diminishes life to the single sphere of the economic, of business, production, and money-making.

Our culture, however, is not so far gone that many of us don't regret and raise our voices against the vapid, vulgar, and venal spirit that has unofficially supplanted the spiritual spirit of the season. Many long for a more Hallmarkian, Norman-Rockwellian Christmas and choose to not be drawn into the consumerism that capitalism promotes. This is all well and good, of course, but merely opposing holiday-time consumerism with no critique or consciousness of where it emanates from, or of the profound human and moral shortcomings of the capitalist system that it manifests, i.e., to treat the corruption of Christmas by consumerism as some kind of an aberration in a vacuum rather than an indication of an endemic and pervasive aspect of capitalist culture, leaves the underlying source of Christmas' profanation untouched.

We would do better to use Christmas as an occasion to promote an awareness of the degrading influence of capitalism on our culture and social life, which it quite inexorably conforms to its own wanton wonts. It's no socialist hyperbole at all to say that capitalism is indeed a dangerously powerful force for corruption, and that the public's recognition of this reality is far from being acute enough to bring about an effective movement to restore the waning wholesomeness of our holidays and values. It therefore really should be the first order of business for those of us who would like to deconsumerize Christmas to encourage our neighbors to critically examine the naive nature of their acceptance of capitalism and their failure to identify it as the root cause of Christmas' perversion into a veritable festival of materialism.

Here we'll predictably run into a good bit of resistance, however, as most people haven't really been conscientized about the social, moral, and human dangers of capitalism, and have been quite thoroughly socioculturally conditioned to be not terribly critical of capitalism. For many supporting the capitalist system of their country is even somewhat tied in with patriotism, and subscribing to the concept of "free enterprise" is likewise tied in with their belief in the blessings of liberty. Overcoming their disinclination to find fault with capitalism will take some work, but until we all come to terms with the inbuilt tendencies of our socioeconomic system to make a quite egregious materialistic mockery of our traditions and values we won't make much productive headway in our efforts to return Christmas to anything resembling authenticity, or even a reasonable facsimile of its rapidly fading iconic, greeting-card avatar.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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12/24/2012 2:18:08 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Conclusion

To sum up, taking back Christmas from the merchants and purveyors of consumerism who've co-opted it isn't just a matter of being keepers and advocates of the traditional holiday spirit, it's a more radical proposition involving a sociological, axiological, and existential critique of capitalist economics and culture.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
OberHerr
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12/24/2012 2:45:56 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Wait, if we're gonna be taking Christmas back, we should go all the way. Take it back for Chisitanity, or whatever pagan religions had it, not communists.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OBERHERR'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Official Enforcer for the DDO Elite(if they existed).

"Cases are anti-town." - FourTrouble

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charleslb
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12/24/2012 1:39:25 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 2:45:56 AM, OberHerr wrote:
Wait, if we're gonna be taking Christmas back, we should go all the way. Take it back for Chisitanity, or whatever pagan religions had it, not communists.

How about something a tad less sectarian and exclusivistic, such as taking it back from capitalist co-optation to return it to being a social, family-oriented, good values-promoting, and generically/optionally spiritual celebration of the mutually actualized meaningfulness, beautiful potential, and sanctity of our lives. Or, would you prefer to glibly dismiss such an inclusive and arguably authentic conceptualization of Christmas with a cynical retort that amounts to saying "Bah! Humbug!"?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Why have you never made a good post?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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12/24/2012 2:24:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Btw, everyone, merry Christmas! But do remember that under capitalism everyone and thing, viz., capitalists themselves, our culture itself, and yes, even good ole Christmas are the b*tches of capital and not free to be true to themselves. It's quite simply an ineluctable outcome that Christmas and its bygone wholesomeness are profoundly corrupted by the socioeconomic and cultural hegemony of capitalism, and we therefore will never completely rid our holidays of commercialism until we purge our society of capitalism.

P.S. That holiday special that aired on NBC the other day, whose theme was praising "the troops" guilty of participating in this country's recent capitalist aggressions against Third-World adversaries, certainly evinced our society's grievous loss of the ole "peace on earth, good will to men" spirit of Christmas. Nope, sorry dear vets, but Xmas is most certainly not about honoring people for their complicity in killing their fellow humans to serve the special interests of the economic and political power elite. Mm-hmm, alas, WWE Tribute to the Troops Holiday Special, a program designed to celebrate the members of a military that functions like, yes, capital's armed and belligerent b*tch, was merely yet another example of a capitalist culture's truly gross distortion of the authentic and decent nature and spirit of the ole ho, ho holiday. But I suppose that you can't really blame the network for producing such a perverse bit of holiday programming, after all, it's a part of the corporate power structure that "the troops" unwittingly and-or unconscionably serve and protect.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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12/24/2012 2:25:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

No thoughts on the topic?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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12/24/2012 4:00:39 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
I don't have the time for extended commentary, but I do want to make the following observations:

1. In contrast to the picture you present--namely, the substitution of traditional views on Christmas with the liberal preoccupation with society-as-Gesellschaft--I suggest it's an error to oppose to this reduction of community to economy a possible return to some long-lost Gemeinschaft whose realization both completes the anti-capitalist project while indulging a deeper nostalgia for a lost social bond; rather, I think we do better to advance a conception of community closer to Nancy's "inoperable community", or to Agamben's "coming community" (not in the sense that it's "on its way", but in that it's always a constant process). Though you later lament sectarian division, I suspect this very division is precisely the result of "returning" to a form of community (whose reality outside a sense of nostalgia is also always in question) in which individual forms of life, though perhaps not subjugated to the narrow economic self-interest of the Gesellschaft, are never the less only theorized in the context of a totality (whether we call this a "social bond", "community ethic", or whatever you'd like, is irrelevant), unable to grasp their own singularity both independent of and in relation to their community. It's a (mistaken, I argue) universal belonging-to, rather than a scattering of singularities who merely are-with.

2. I think, following this insight, I must object to the notion of the "profanation" of Christmas. To make something sacred, classically and schematically, is to separate for something an exclusive sphere of proper use. While I agree that Christmas, as it presently functions, is essentially spectacular (insofar as it permits only the interaction of commodities vis-a-vis a set of passive holiday consumers, rather than instrumentalization of the gift to represent one's good will), I think that this indicates the sacralization of Christmas, rather than its profanation. I say this because much of the content of the holiday season--not only gifts, but also attitudes, practices, meals, etc.--becomes heavily ritualized in an exclusive sphere of use proper to "right" holiday practice. Profanation, following Agamben's use of the term, is not to bring down objects to the level of the commodity; quite contrarily, the function of profanation is to return objects from the sacred sphere to our free use. Hence, Christmas, falling victim to sacralization through its reduction to a materialistic spectacle (and, in particular, to its utility as a mechanism of ritual exchange), can only be rescued through profanation, that is, through its return to an open zone of free use and enjoyment. Attempts to introduce salvation into the equation (through the "saving" of Christmas, achieved through the return to social solidarity, "good" values, a critical position respective of capitalist materialism, etc.), on my view, merely introduce an economy of the sacred in which the present spectacle finds itself replaced by other forms of sacralization, as in the form of the ritualization through a totalizing narrative of social cohesion and normative-exclusionary models of Gemeinschaft (exclusionary, primarily, of singular forms of life not captured in the totality of the community bond).
charleslb
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12/26/2012 12:48:54 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 3:24:06 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

He has, and does.

Thank you.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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12/26/2012 1:38:33 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 4:00:39 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
I don't have the time for extended commentary, but I do want to make the following observations:

Your observations are nonetheless substantive and appreciated.

1. In contrast to the picture you present--namely, the substitution of traditional views on Christmas with the liberal preoccupation with society-as-Gesellschaft--I suggest it's an error to oppose to this reduction of community to economy a possible return to some long-lost Gemeinschaft whose realization both completes the anti-capitalist project while indulging a deeper nostalgia for a lost social bond;

I apologize if my choice of the term "gesellschaft" gave the erroneous impression that I'm nostalgic for and yearning for a return to a "long-lost gemeinschaft". No, although I'd prefer a form of society that is fundamentally geared to more fully actualizing human sociality and interconnectedness I'm not at all keen on resurrectinging some defunct form of social bond from the past. Mm-hmm, idealizing the "traditional" social bonds and societies of the past is more of a conservative thing, shall we say.

rather, I think we do better to advance a conception of community closer to Nancy's "inoperable community", or to Agamben's "coming community" (not in the sense that it's "on its way", but in that it's always a constant process).

Well, a form of society designed to be, to permit optimal scope for, a constant process of actualizing the creative potential of our interconnectedness is certainly what I'm in favor of.

Though you later lament sectarian division, I suspect this very division is precisely the result of "returning" to a form of community (whose reality outside a sense of nostalgia is also always in question) in which individual forms of life, though perhaps not subjugated to the narrow economic self-interest of the Gesellschaft, are never the less only theorized in the context of a totality (whether we call this a "social bond", "community ethic", or whatever you'd like, is irrelevant), unable to grasp their own singularity both independent of and in relation to their community. It's a (mistaken, I argue) universal belonging-to, rather than a scattering of singularities who merely are-with.

Again, I apologize for inadvertently causing you to misunderstand me. I don't at all long to return to an idyllic gemeinschaft society that's inimical to individuality.

2. I think, following this insight, I must object to the notion of the "profanation" of Christmas.

By "profanation" I merely mean the reduction of something to a vulgar version of itself devoid of aesthetic, social, spiritual, or moral depth and values.

To make something sacred, classically and schematically, is to separate for something an exclusive sphere of proper use.

Yes, but then again "sacred" can also simply mean "entitled to reverence and respect" (Merriam Webster's Dictionary) because existentially and ultimately important. I merely advocate a form of society that would promote an awareness of the existentially and ultimately important and that would therefore not be inclinded to cause Christmas to be deprived of its sacred dimension.

While I agree that Christmas, as it presently functions, is essentially spectacular (insofar as it permits only the interaction of commodities vis-a-vis a set of passive holiday consumers, rather than instrumentalization of the gift to represent one's good will), I think that this indicates the sacralization of Christmas, rather than its profanation. I say this because much of the content of the holiday season--not only gifts, but also attitudes, practices, meals, etc.--becomes heavily ritualized in an exclusive sphere of use proper to "right" holiday practice. Profanation, following Agamben's use of the term, is not to bring down objects to the level of the commodity; quite contrarily, the function of profanation is to return objects from the sacred sphere to our free use. Hence, Christmas, falling victim to sacralization through its reduction to a materialistic spectacle (and, in particular, to its utility as a mechanism of ritual exchange), can only be rescued through profanation, that is, through its return to an open zone of free use and enjoyment.

Well, although it may surprise you, given the critique of my post, I in fact do recognize and appreciate that the one good thing that comes of the secularization of Christmas is that it liberates Christmas from sectarianism and traditionalism and makes it more of an inclusive cultural holiday, as opposed to a narrowly Christian holy day. But, alas, the colonization of Christmas by capitalism also means the perversion of yet another bit of our culture into something that promotes materialism and axiological vapidity.

Attempts to introduce salvation into the equation (through the "saving" of Christmas, achieved through the return to social solidarity, "good" values, a critical position respective of capitalist materialism, etc.), on my view, merely introduce an economy of the sacred in which the present spectacle finds itself replaced by other forms of sacralization, as in the form of the ritualization through a totalizing narrative of social cohesion and normative-exclusionary models of Gemeinschaft (exclusionary, primarily, of singular forms of life not captured in the totality of the community bond).

This is certainly an outcome that we should be exceedingly careful to avoid.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Cody_Franklin
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12/26/2012 2:28:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
For reasons of space, I'm going to cut out the content of my analysis on which we're essentially in agreement.

At 12/26/2012 1:38:33 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 12/24/2012 4:00:39 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
1. In contrast to the picture you present--namely, the substitution of traditional views on Christmas with the liberal preoccupation with society-as-Gesellschaft--I suggest it's an error to oppose to this reduction of community to economy a possible return to some long-lost Gemeinschaft whose realization both completes the anti-capitalist project while indulging a deeper nostalgia for a lost social bond;

I apologize if my choice of the term "gesellschaft" gave the erroneous impression that I'm nostalgic for and yearning for a return to a "long-lost gemeinschaft". No, although I'd prefer a form of society that is fundamentally geared to more fully actualizing human sociality and interconnectedness I'm not at all keen on resurrectinging some defunct form of social bond from the past. Mm-hmm, idealizing the "traditional" social bonds and societies of the past is more of a conservative thing, shall we say.

While it may be true, then, that you do not intend a return to Gemeinschaft, I do note in your original post a desire to "return Christmas to anything resembling authenticity"; this invocation of some seemingly-lost sense of authenticity indicates to me at least a hint of nostalgia respecting some kind of tradition or customary practice. Insofar as this is true, I think the seed may be planted, even if unintentionally, for a return to the past. I may be quite mistaken on this point, but this is how it seems to me.

rather, I think we do better to advance a conception of community closer to Nancy's "inoperable community", or to Agamben's "coming community" (not in the sense that it's "on its way", but in that it's always a constant process).

Well, a form of society designed to be, to permit optimal scope for, a constant process of actualizing the creative potential of our interconnectedness is certainly what I'm in favor of.

I think the key for potentiality, particularly in a community of the sort I am describing, is not merely a potentiality directed toward some or other actual condition, but one which, grasping its own perfection as potentiality, discovers also the potential not to be. Hence, while there are numerous predicates that one could ostensibly attribute to a singularity, what is here critical is the capacity for human inoperativity. Hence, rather than a perpetual re-actualization of creative potential, perhaps in the form of an architect who always designs new structures or a jack-of-all-trades whose passion is a variety of actualities, we must accept also the disposition of singularities like Melville's Bartleby, the melancholy scrivener who, more than merely preferring not to write, exemplifies a potentiality not condemned to pass inevitably into actuality. We doubtlessly agree on the need of a society permissive of actualization, but I am less certain whether we agree about the potential as such, i.e., as a potential which prefers not to pass into actuality.

2. I think, following this insight, I must object to the notion of the "profanation" of Christmas.

By "profanation" I merely mean the reduction of something to a vulgar version of itself devoid of aesthetic, social, spiritual, or moral depth and values.

The notion of "vulgarity" is linked specifically to an absence of "sophistication or good taste"--I think that this is, in a way, precisely what I am aim for, not insofar as I seek to be "unsophisticated" or to pursue "bad taste", but precisely insofar as I wish to neutralize the dichotomy between "good" and "bad" taste, between the "proper" and the "improper", between the "sophisticated" and the "unsophisticated", seeking to situate myself--and the community to which I have gestured--in a space prior to judgment, particularly of the aesthetic variety (because I do not think that beauty, art, spirituality, etc. are merely occasions to exercise one's sense of taste: I think this repeats the error of spectacular capitalism insofar as it commodifies the beautiful by turning it into an object for judgmental consumption vis-a-vis a crowd of dispassionate spectator-consumers). Profanation, as the method of accomplishing this neutralization, does not reduce these things to vulgarity in the sense of unsophistication, bad taste, etc.--rather, it situates the subjects of our discussion as prior to the erection of these distinctions.

To make something sacred, classically and schematically, is to separate for something an exclusive sphere of proper use.

Yes, but then again "sacred" can also simply mean "entitled to reverence and respect" (Merriam Webster's Dictionary) because existentially and ultimately important. I merely advocate a form of society that would promote an awareness of the existentially and ultimately important and that would therefore not be inclinded to cause Christmas to be deprived of its sacred dimension.

I think even this definition gives way to the conception of sacralization I describe, precisely insofar as, to the end of reverence and respect, the sacred object is cloistered, kept distinct from the profane realm of open use for the express purpose of shielding it against "vulgarity" (which, on my use of the term, distinguishes itself from the abnegating process of sacralization/commodification)

While I agree that Christmas, as it presently functions, is essentially spectacular (insofar as it permits only the interaction of commodities vis-a-vis a set of passive holiday consumers, rather than instrumentalization of the gift to represent one's good will), I think that this indicates the sacralization of Christmas, rather than its profanation. I say this because much of the content of the holiday season--not only gifts, but also attitudes, practices, meals, etc.--becomes heavily ritualized in an exclusive sphere of use proper to "right" holiday practice. Profanation, following Agamben's use of the term, is not to bring down objects to the level of the commodity; quite contrarily, the function of profanation is to return objects from the sacred sphere to our free use. Hence, Christmas, falling victim to sacralization through its reduction to a materialistic spectacle (and, in particular, to its utility as a mechanism of ritual exchange), can only be rescued through profanation, that is, through its return to an open zone of free use and enjoyment.

Well, although it may surprise you, given the critique of my post, I in fact do recognize and appreciate that the one good thing that comes of the secularization of Christmas is that it liberates Christmas from sectarianism and traditionalism and makes it more of an inclusive cultural holiday, as opposed to a narrowly Christian holy day. But, alas, the colonization of Christmas by capitalism also means the perversion of yet another bit of our culture into something that promotes materialism and axiological vapidity.

I do draw a distinction between the secular and the profane. I think the two often are treated as synonyms; the difference, however, is that the function of profanation is the return of sacred objects to a status of open, "improper" use. Profanation disrupts and deactivates; secularization, contrastingly, is not a disruption of the sacred, but a substitution of one form of sacralization for another (for instance, in the substitution of the religious form of the holiday for the spectacular-materialist form), maintaining the power of the sacred over culture through an economy of justificatory narratives. I find, consequently, an absolute opposition between the profane and the secular.
MouthWash
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12/27/2012 1:11:42 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/26/2012 12:48:54 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 12/24/2012 3:24:06 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

He has, and does.

Thank you.

Name one.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
Cody_Franklin
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12/27/2012 1:19:00 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/27/2012 1:17:55 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/27/2012 1:11:42 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 12/26/2012 12:48:54 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 12/24/2012 3:24:06 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

He has, and does.

Thank you.

Name one.

See the OP.

And, given that your only contributions in this thread are completely non-substantive, I think a similar question could be asked of you.
Thaddeus
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12/27/2012 10:59:10 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/27/2012 1:19:00 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/27/2012 1:17:55 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/27/2012 1:11:42 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 12/26/2012 12:48:54 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 12/24/2012 3:24:06 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

He has, and does.

Thank you.

Name one.

See the OP.

And, given that your only contributions in this thread are completely non-substantive, I think a similar question could be asked of you.

Everyone is always asking that of mouthwash. He is a sad strange little man and he has my pity.
errya
Posts: 140
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12/27/2012 11:30:27 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I don't know about you but I had a fantastic Christmas with family. I've no problems with evil capitalist grinches stealing Christmas.
The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bront" in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Ord...
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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12/29/2012 7:24:06 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/27/2012 1:26:35 PM, reddj2 wrote:
Yeah Im not gonna shop when there's deals to be had.....psssshhhhhh steam sale!

I see, you merely wish to make light.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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12/29/2012 7:26:15 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/27/2012 11:30:27 AM, errya wrote:
I don't know about you but I had a fantastic Christmas with family. I've no problems with evil capitalist grinches stealing Christmas.

I see, your insular attitude is "I had a splendid Christmas and couldn't care less about what Christmas is degenerating into for a great many other people". Yes, that's the true, socially enlightened Christmas spirit. NOT! It's actually rather like someone who has just had a thoroughly enjoyable unprotected sexual experience with an unifected partner saying "I just had a fabulous orgasm and have no problem with folks engaging promiscuously in unsafe sex that can potentially spread STDs and AIDS". That is, yours is a decidedly self-concerned worldview in which no worries arise, in which it's taken for granted that all is swimmingly right with the world, as long as things are going happily for little ole you. Such egoistic individualism, are you perhaps a "libertarian"?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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12/29/2012 8:12:46 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 4:00:39 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:

For reasons of space, I'm going to cut out the content of my analysis on which we're essentially in agreement.

Yes, it's merely the economical thing to do, so to speak.

While it may be true, then, that you do not intend a return to Gemeinschaft, I do note in your original post a desire to "return Christmas to anything resembling authenticity"; this invocation of some seemingly-lost sense of authenticity indicates to me at least a hint of nostalgia respecting some kind of tradition or customary practice. Insofar as this is true, I think the seed may be planted, even if unintentionally, for a return to the past. I may be quite mistaken on this point, but this is how it seems to me.

As per usual, you make some very acute points. Yes, I'm afraid that I did somewhat fall into the cliche of sounding as though I would like to recover an idealized bygone way of observing Christmas. But actually nothing could be further from the truth, the way of observing Christmas that I would like to see us evolve toward would in fact be spiritual in a nonhidebound and nondenominational way and not at all "traditional". Btw, if I really wanted to return Christmas to a historically authentic past form I'd be advocating observing it by engaging in drunken carousing, as in olden times the ole Yule Tide holiday was in fact commonly kept more in the shallowly hedonistic fashion that folks today are of course still wont to celebrate the New Year in, i.e., by publicly boozing and partying.

I think the key for potentiality, particularly in a community of the sort I am describing, is not merely a potentiality directed toward some or other actual condition, but one which, grasping its own perfection as potentiality, discovers also the potential not to be. Hence, while there are numerous predicates that one could ostensibly attribute to a singularity, what is here critical is the capacity for human inoperativity. Hence, rather than a perpetual re-actualization of creative potential, perhaps in the form of an architect who always designs new structures or a jack-of-all-trades whose passion is a variety of actualities, we must accept also the disposition of singularities like Melville's Bartleby, the melancholy scrivener who, more than merely preferring not to write, exemplifies a potentiality not condemned to pass inevitably into actuality. We doubtlessly agree on the need of a society permissive of actualization, but I am less certain whether we agree about the potential as such, i.e., as a potential which prefers not to pass into actuality.

Creativity and potentiality entails, by definition, selectivity, i.e., selecting (not "condemning") a particular potentiality or possibility for actualization and tangibility. Conversely, allowing all potentialities to lie fallow indefinitely would be an untenable, inert, and bleak ontological option, not a prescription for a beautifully open universe.

The notion of "vulgarity" is linked specifically to an absence of "sophistication or good taste"--I think that this is, in a way, precisely what I am aim for, not insofar as I seek to be "unsophisticated" or to pursue "bad taste", but precisely insofar as I wish to neutralize the dichotomy between "good" and "bad" taste, between the "proper" and the "improper", between the "sophisticated" and the "unsophisticated", seeking to situate myself--and the community to which I have gestured--in a space prior to judgment, particularly of the aesthetic variety (because I do not think that beauty, art, spirituality, etc. are merely occasions to exercise one's sense of taste: I think this repeats the error of spectacular capitalism insofar as it commodifies the beautiful by turning it into an object for judgmental consumption vis-a-vis a crowd of dispassionate spectator-consumers). Profanation, as the method of accomplishing this neutralization, does not reduce these things to vulgarity in the sense of unsophistication, bad taste, etc.--rather, it situates the subjects of our discussion as prior to the erection of these distinctions.

Sorry, but cognizing, appreciating, and joyfully participating in the creative & aesthetic nature of life and existence can't be done from some sort of an axiologically neutral postmodern perspective.

I think even this definition gives way to the conception of sacralization I describe, precisely insofar as, to the end of reverence and respect, the sacred object is cloistered, kept distinct from the profane realm of open use for the express purpose of shielding it against "vulgarity" (which, on my use of the term, distinguishes itself from the abnegating process of sacralization/commodification)

You're thinking in the vein of a two-valued orientation that's fixed on contrasting the sacred and the profane. One could also think of the sacred & profane more in terms of the ole yin-yang symbol (taijitu), i.e., as fluently and fecundly interpenetrating and interweaving, rather than rigidly and sterilely dichotomized and contrasting concepts. That is, as ongoingly cross-pollinating, thoroughly complementary concepts on a continuum of axiological-ontological awareness and appreciation, over which the human mind ranges about in a winding journey of growth and spiritual adventure, eventually realizing that all of existence is numinous creativity intrinsically engaged in constructing sacredness and that profanity is merely a quite superficial, unappreciative, and cynical attitude of mind, not anything actual and objective that can be juxtaposed with or opposed to the sacred outside of that space between our ears.

I do draw a distinction between the secular and the profane. I think the two often are treated as synonyms; the difference, however, is that the function of profanation is the return of sacred objects to a status of open, "improper" use. Profanation disrupts and deactivates; secularization, contrastingly, is not a disruption of the sacred, but a substitution of one form of sacralization for another (for instance, in the substitution of the religious form of the holiday for the spectacular-materialist form), maintaining the power of the sacred over culture through an economy of justificatory narratives. I find, consequently, an absolute opposition between the profane and the secular.

Thank you for this bit of clarification. I of course recognize that the two terms aren't quite exact synonyms, however I do use them more interchangeably than you're inclined to.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
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12/30/2012 1:45:51 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Btw, happy New Year everyone!
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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12/30/2012 3:09:34 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/27/2012 1:19:00 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/27/2012 1:17:55 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/27/2012 1:11:42 AM, MouthWash wrote:
At 12/26/2012 12:48:54 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 12/24/2012 3:24:06 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/24/2012 1:51:55 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Why have you never made a good post?

He has, and does.

Thank you.

Name one.

See the OP.

And, given that your only contributions in this thread are completely non-substantive, I think a similar question could be asked of you.

I'm not surprised you believe that. As a master of obfuscation yourself, it makes sense that you'd want to defend your colleague, or whatever.
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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12/30/2012 3:17:44 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/24/2012 2:16:44 AM, charleslb wrote:
Okay, unless you're a comatose cave-dwelling hermit you're surely already quite well aware of the disturbing fact that the colonization of the Christmas holiday and spirit by commercialism & consumerism, by major-league mercantile purveyors of commercialism & consumerism such as Amazon.com, Macy's, and Apple, has been in overdrive for some time now. There's certainly no need for a rant to raise people's consciousness about a pernicious cultural phenomenon that everyone decries. The rampant retailification, i.e., the reorientation of "the annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth" (as the dictionary so quaintly describes Christmas) in the direction of materialism is, however, merely a blotchy bit of a largely ignored bigger and more distressing picture of "Western civilization"s" ongoing descent into the inherent crassness and corruption of capitalism which it would behoove us to give a bit of critical thought to.

tl;dr: The spirit of Christmas is being exploited for material ends. Civilization is descending into greed.

The seemingly benign mutation, the insidious inversion of Christmas from a religious holy day that once upon a time promoted an ethic of giving into a season of shopping that promotes an anti-ethic, as it were, of acquisitiveness, is indeed merely the tip of the destructive cultural iceberg, known as capitalism, that's taking out the wholesomeness and humanity not merely of our way of observing the holidays, but of our way of life in general.

tl;dr: Christmas used to be a holy day. Now we only care about the money and shopping.

Well, capitalism is, the whole socio-economico-cultural truth be told, not merely a productive economic system, it's a system of values, interests, and imperatives, vulgarly and virally economic in nature, which infect every dimension of human existence and rewrite the cultural DNA of our lives and mentalities. The gearing of society and life under capitalism in terms of the three Cs - capital, and its overriding dynamics; the cash nexus, and its reduction/debasement of human connectedness to impersonal economic transactions and relations; and commodification, the anti-humanistic reduction of all values and things, including ourselves, to economic values - relentlessly dominates and displaces other life orientations, such as authentic human sociality and spirituality, turning us into precisely the sort of thoroughly selfish and materialistic specimens of Homo economicus for whom Christmas has no meaning deeper than "getting stuff".

tl;dr: Human value is being replaced with economic value. We only care about making and buying products, not society or spirituality.

Come on now, a soulless gesellschaft sort of society based upon coldly "rational self-interest" and emotionless economics, in which merchants and manufacturers, bosses and businesses are all slaves to their addiction to capital and therefore don't care about anything except money; a humanly bleak form of anti-community in which, outside of a small circle of family and friends, most of us only socially interface with each other when engaging in productivity, rendering services, or exchanging goods for money; a merciless mode of production in which everything is objectified and valued monetarily rather than morally or aestherically; in such a capitalist wasteland is it any wonder that the "true spirit of Christmas" is no longer to be found in many a heart?

tl;dr: Self-interest and markets are evil and take away our spirituality.

Do I need to continue further?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
CarefulNow
Posts: 780
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12/31/2012 6:40:46 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/30/2012 3:17:44 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Do I need to continue further?

You're tl;dr-ing passages far shorter than the illustrated children's book after which the thread is named. Your ravaged attention span itself exemplifies capitalism's capacity for destruction.
tmar19652
Posts: 727
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12/31/2012 3:49:43 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Do you never see any of the merits of capitalism? At least it exists, unlike the society you advocate for.
"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." -Ronald Reagan

"The notion of political correctness declares certain topics, certain ex<x>pressions even certain gestures off-limits. What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship." -George H.W. Bush
CarefulNow
Posts: 780
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12/31/2012 3:55:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/31/2012 3:49:43 PM, tmar19652 wrote:
Do you never see any of the merits of capitalism? At least it exists, unlike the society you advocate for.

What's the use of advocating a society that already exists?
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
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1/1/2013 12:06:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/31/2012 6:40:46 AM, CarefulNow wrote:
At 12/30/2012 3:17:44 PM, MouthWash wrote:
Do I need to continue further?

You're tl;dr-ing passages far shorter than the illustrated children's book after which the thread is named. Your ravaged attention span itself exemplifies capitalism's capacity for destruction.

What genuine points has he made and backed up with genuine arguments rather than monologues?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
tmar19652
Posts: 727
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1/1/2013 12:12:57 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 12/31/2012 3:55:07 PM, CarefulNow wrote:
At 12/31/2012 3:49:43 PM, tmar19652 wrote:
Do you never see any of the merits of capitalism? At least it exists, unlike the society you advocate for.

What's the use of advocating a society that already exists?

Im saying that a Marxist communist society is impossible to achieve. I would rather stick with the evil I know.
"Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first." -Ronald Reagan

"The notion of political correctness declares certain topics, certain ex<x>pressions even certain gestures off-limits. What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship." -George H.W. Bush
CarefulNow
Posts: 780
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1/1/2013 1:53:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 1/1/2013 12:06:19 PM, MouthWash wrote:
What genuine points has he made and backed up with genuine arguments rather than monologues?

The two aren't mutually exclusive, you know.