People like to think of knowledge as an infinite field, but rather it is like the musical scale: there are only so many basic variations, and the uses of those are obvious, so knowledge comes from layers of interpretation over time. This is why music, like history, is cyclic, running through patterns as a means of returning to a balance.
With that in mind, there is nothing new — only the rediscovery of old concepts:
If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil’d,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burden of a former child.
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe’er better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.1
This is not popular, because the Crowd wants to be thought of as genius, and so it is always re-inventing concepts so that it can take possession of them and add spin to them. Check out the public history — which is always lies — of the slang term woke:
It can be hard to trace slang back to its origins since slang’s origins are usually spoken, and it can be particularly difficult to trace a slang word that has its origins in a dialect. Woke’s transformation into a byword of social awareness likely started in 2008, with the release of Erykah Badu’s song “Master Teacher”:
Even if yo baby ain’t got no money
To support ya baby, you
(I stay woke)
Even when the preacher tell you some lies
And cheatin on ya mama, you stay woke
(I stay woke)
Even though you go through struggle and strife
To keep a healthy life, I stay woke
(I stay woke)
Everybody knows a black or a white there’s creatures in every shape and size
(I stay woke)
Stay woke became a watch word in parts of the black community for those who were self-aware, questioning the dominant paradigm and striving for something better. But stay woke and woke became part of a wider discussion in 2014, immediately following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The word woke became entwined with the Black Lives Matter movement; instead of just being a word that signaled awareness of injustice or racial tension, it became a word of action. Activists were woke and called on others to stay woke.
How clever, but as usual with the herd and its organs like the mainstream news-entertainment industry, it is lies. Here is the actual origin of the concept of being awakened in a political sense:
‘Deutschland Erwache’ was one of Adolf Hitler’s favourite sayings especially in the lead up the January 1933 when he was appointed Chancellor. ‘Deutschland Erwache’ was still used by the Nazis after Hitler had got power as a way of warning the German public about the Jews getting everywhere. No one is quite sure where ‘Deutschland Erwache’ came from but it is almost certainly from work down by Richard Wagner – Hitler’s favourite composer. ‘Deutschland Erwache’ became the title for one of the most popular songs in Nazi Germany:
Storm, storm, storm, storm,
From tower to tower peal bells of alarm,
Peal out. Sparks fly as hammers strike.
Come Judas forth to win the Reich.
Peal out. The bloody ropes hang red
Around our martyred hero dead.
Peal out – that our thundering earth may know,
Salvation’s rage for honour’s sake.
To people dreaming still comes woe
Germany awake! Awake!”
A similar version was also used at rallies called ‘Germany Awake! Perish Judah!’ This ‘chorus’ was meant to have been chanted by those present to give the impression of unity across the land against the Jews in Germany.
The concept of being in a dream orchestrated by the herd and its public organs is nothing new, but the Hitlerian usage exists within the realm of politics exclusively. Previously, the idea of awakening from a dream was a spiritual and metaphysical concept, describing the moment at which the initiate recognized that physical reality was comprised of effects and not causes, giving it more of a symbolic value in a non-human sense than an actual value to materiality itself, leading to the concept of Idealism as discovered by ancient Hindus, Germans and probably everyone else.
In the meantime, we have 21st century Afro-pop (?) re-discovering Adolf Hitler’s personal lexicon and using it in service of Black Lives Matter. If nothing else, this should be good for a chuckle!
1. William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 59,” retrieved from http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/59detail.html.