Leading into the Future IX: Fragmented and Inconsistent Images

Leading into the Future IX: Fragmented and Inconsistent Images

Not too many years ago, Santa Clauses were sold at Christmas time in Japan. However, rather than Santa riding on a sleigh, he was nailed to a cross—an inaccurate (though perhaps insightful) conversion of an icon in one culture to a second culture. Worshippers at the wailing wall in Jerusalem bring cell phones and mobile devices so that their relatives in other parts of the world can offer prayers at the wall—a juxtaposition of premodern ritual with postmodern technology.

A tribe in Western Africa has lost its culture. One of the members of the tribe searches on the Internet for a specialist in this tribe’s culture. He discovers a professor in England with this expertise. Leaders of the tribe fly in the British expert to teach them their own culture—a disturbing loss of the old culture and use of postmodern thought and technology to bring about a renewal of the old culture.  Offered in most cases by Walter Anderson (1995) in The Truth About Truth, these images are perplexing, disruptive, at times humorous, and definitely descriptive of our new postmodern world.

In a newspaper article of the late 1980s, entitled “Hip Deep in Post-Modernism”, Todd Gitlin (1988) prophetically described the blurring and juxtaposition of forms, moods, stances and cultural levels in the postmodern world. According to Gitlin, we had moved in our postmodern world into a form of global capitalism (perhaps better labeled as post-capitalism) that requires high levels of consumption, which in turns requires “ceaseless transformation in style, a connoisseurship of surface, an emphasis on packaging and reproducibility.” A widely seen bumper sticker–“The one who dies with the most toys wins”—illustrated this point. Have things changed much during the past three decades or are we still living in a post-capitalistic society?

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William Bergquist

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant, professor in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 45 books, and president of a graduate school of psychology. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations. His graduate school (The Professional School of Psychology: www.psychology.edu) offers Master and Doctoral degrees in both clinical and organizational psychology to mature, accomplished adults.

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