Philology tracks history through the subtle changes in language that occur over time. Perhaps a more important science might be trendology, or chronicling the terms and fascinations the define each micro-age.
These ages seem to me to occur without a regular schedule and overlap each other. For example, people might talk about a popular show for five years, a new type of restaurant delicacy for one, and a funny saying for three months.
In this way, trends do not displace one another categorically by adopting a new trend and throwing out the old universally. They overlap and compete for attention in a marketplace mostly defined by the need for escape and evasion from existential stress.
Trends die when they lose relevance and freshness, which means that people have exhausted the possibilities of them and moved on to something new. This begins with the most connected and extends to a “long tail” of the least informed.
Trends — like panics, manias, fads, cults, cliques, dark organizations, and suicide pacts — show us the downside of human intelligence, which is that we rationalize ourselves into actions that destroy us in order to not feel helpless, at risk, powerless, or mortal.
Some might say that trends manifest in history as epicycles, or cycles within a cycle that tend to go against the grain, meaning that they leave behind ill-will that becomes a bias against the trend and what made it important, sort of like a memetic inoculation.
As is the case with most things based on novelty, trends erase predictability to society, which in turn leaves individuals in a sense of anomie and rootlessness. They are strangers in a familiar land.
When a citizen can predict the response that will be garnered by a certain action, they live in a state of confidence because they know what they can do that others will approve and how to avoid what will be disapproved.
With trends and panics, on the other hand, what was safe Monday will be a social death sentence — no job, spouse, friends, house, or trust — on Thursday. This forces people to constantly keep up with what the masses are gibbering about.
In other words, trends like other deviations from culture such as diversity and bureaucracy undermine confidence. The predictability of life is replaced by a need to constantly pay attention to the Narrative.
When modern people think of confidence, they tend to reduce the definition to mean “self-confidence” or the belief that you can achieve whatever you want with some hard work.
Naturally, this is both not true and misses the bigger picture. A person with an IQ of 95 can never be a brain surgeon, at least not a good one, and self-confidence is a small part of overall confidence.
Civilizational confidence — what Robert Putnam calls “social trust” — relies on there being an “objective” definition of “good” which you can trust in, knowing that if you do that you will be rewarded, and that unless you attack that, you will not be downranked.
In a healthy civilization, everyone knows what to do to be rewarded, not simply in a monetary sense but in a social one as well. If you save a child from a burning house, fight off an enemy, or invent a new irrigation system, you get praised.
In an inverted society, where socializing and bureaucracy take the place of reality as proxies for “good,” no one knows what to do because culture has been replaced by rules and trends.
For someone to have confidence, they must first have culture, and only then can they build up their own self-esteem based on having succeeded at things that make them valued in that culture.
In addition, they need something crucial which is the biggest part of confidence: a belief in the goodness of the world.
This, too, relies on a culture, since only when one has a goal and a sense of being can one get a clear head enough to see the goodness of the world. Otherwise, the world is replaced by the human world, or the “social order” replacing the natural order.
When one has confidence in the goodness of the world, it is easy to reach out and be part of it. On the other hand, someone in the grips of individualism, a “me first” type mental disorder, either sees the world as bad or believes nothing they do can improve things, a pathology known as “fatalism.”
To a fatalist, no choice leads to any kind of victory. All of them are merely palliative care and compensation for the badness of the world. Therefore, the fatalist chooses narcissism, hubris, solipsism, and selfishness.
In the mind of a fatalist, the world is bad and the self is the only good, therefore the world must be made to pay for its transgressions. Revenge and resentment of others become the primary motivations.
Fatalism arises at a fundamental level from a lack of answers to the hard questions in life that are normally answered in part by culture. When the world appears baffling and pointless, fatalism corrupts the soul.
Some are born to fatalism, of course. Someone with innate mental health problems or low moral character will tend in this direction because the world is good, and therefore does not match their disordered and parasitic mindset.
Avoiding the hard questions — realism, spirituality, existential purpose — is how most people operate, but that translates into a lack of ability to understand the world and therefore, an inability to believe in it.
The process of transcendence refers to the ability to see the good in life, accept it as more sensible than our big human brains, and then to see ways that goodness can be spread and the joy in life amplified.
Modern people talk about maturation, meaning accepting the yoke of obedience to a vampiric system of futility and waste, but the real maturation process involves clarifying the mind to the point that it can see beauty and wisdom in nature.
Without undergoing this process, people are aimless. A sane society elevates those who are “twice-born” through this process to leadership, at which point their wisdom and benevolence trickles down to everyone else.