Friday, October 21, 2011

The X-Factor Election

John Waters worries about our narrowing spectrum of possibilities as a nation:
In the Ireland midwifed by materialism and pseudo-modernity, it is impossible to image a patriotism that is not jingoistic, an idealism that is not economistic or a sincerity that is not sanctimonious. We know too much, are too clever, have become over-ironified to the point of cultural self-ingestion. Political rhetoric, then, has become a kind of game, in which only the most pious or populist sentiments are a safe bet...

More than anything yet “announced” by anybody – leader, writer, artist, whoever – this election has declared an end to the present spectrum of possibilities. One thing we now know: we cannot return to this well until we take steps to replenish it. In a culture increasingly driven by scepticism and suspicion, we can find no ideas or images concerning our collective future from within the existing package, but nor does anyone seem capable of generating any new thoughts or symbols that might sustain us into another phase.
Most Irish people under the age of 35 haven't voted in a Presidential election before. I call them the X-Factor Generation and perhaps we should not be surprised that the election has taken on the same 'light entertainment' features of a celebrity game show.

I'm a citizen, get me out of here...


  1. "... but nor does anyone seem capable of generating any new thoughts or symbols that might sustain us into another phase," says John Waters.

    Well, let's start working on it then! Starting with a respect for the innate talents of people, that gives them the time, space and confidence to produce what is most natural for them, rather than what fits the current requirements of "business" or the multinationals.

    We won't get a Jackson Pollock or Ernest Hemingway in Ireland if we keep on insisting that 'Ireland Inc' needs to be pumping out more computer engineers or construction technicians, etc. If people have the need to be artists or writers, let's encourage that.

  2. Agreed Hugh - I hate the 'Ireland Inc' talk: though I suspect most people (even in business!) do too.

    As I said in my book, we need to shape new narrative around the 3Cs: commerce, creativity and compassion. Not elevating one above the other - but recognising the complementary value of all three.

    Nothing new of course: simply the Aristotelian harmony of the good, the true and the beautiful - applied to Ireland in the second decade of the 21st century.

  3. I would put it myself like this:

    - We just need to re-think how we DESIGN.

    This initiative chaired by Garrett Stokes is on the right track I feel. -

    My view (as a design engineer) is that human beings in all their complexity and potential and sense need to be put at the centre of any and all design.

    Simple as.

    This means that profit and time-cost expedience is relegated to second place as drivers of design.

    In that, we see the seismic shift that is required in our politics, in our way of doing business, and in our thinking.

  4. Just to add, I am in no way alluding to those types of business philosophies that aim to "put the customer at the centre of all we do" etc.

    The representation of a human being merely as a customer or a consumer is indeed a very poor and pale and destructive representation of the reality, and as such, the use of such representation creates its own dynamic.

    Not good.


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