Nightsky’s Three Laws Of Movements
There are three key developments to any movement, whether artistic, political, or social –
- Foundation – Someone – or even several people acting independently – discerns, pioneers, or stumbles over a particular concept. These are the ones who have painstakingly reasoned it out and have the deepest understanding.
These are the handful of people willing to buck “conventional” thinking and whose personal experiences have gradually but inevitably led them to a specific conclusion. The concept provides a cornerstone to establish a framework atop of.
- Structuring – A small following accrues, consisting of those who learn from the direct experience of the first group, their own observations fitting into and supporting the framework. With time, the edifice is overbuilt, extraneous knickknacks and clutter accumulate.
A second group discovers the concept. Also willing to buck received thinking, these people have similar experiences as the first group, but not as many, and not to the same degree. They don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle (or just don’t put them together), but once the assembled puzzle is shown to them, the light flicks on and they see the concept clearly. But by not putting the pieces of the watch together on their own, they may be less able to understand how it keeps time, and their explanations of such tend to lack precision.
- Liquefaction – The drifters, the lost, and the hangers-on come along later and imbibe a diluted, polluted, or outright bastardized version of the concept.
The ones looking for a purpose arrive, who have no direction in their lives and are searching for someone to give them a prepackaged one. The already-stressed framework is liquified and spread wide, like a tall ice sculpture melting into a flat, wide puddle. The watered-down version is then mixed with remnants of their previous belief, and if actually pressed on it, the koolaiders will resist the original, pure version as “extreme.”
I began to notice this pattern in my late teens, but what really cemented it for me was how the so-called grunge scene played out. To illustrate –
- Green River, The Melvins
The pioneers who blazed the trail in the ’80s.
- Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam
Found the trail and staked out the territory in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Translated the idioms into a more common parlance understandable to outsiders and new arrivals.
….the less said, and all that.
This also happens in politics – first, second, and third-wave feminism, for example. Or track William F. Buckley to Rush Limbaugh to… pretty much anyone in the GOP today.
For those not versed in alternative music (yuppie scum) or in politics, think of how writers for The Simpsons or Seinfeld changed over time – the original writers had a personal vision and followed it wherever it led. Later writers were hired hands who were familiar with the shows but also brought some personal vision and experience to established concepts. After that, writers came from the ranks of fans, who had only seen the finished products on the screen and knew little of the visions or experiences behind the scripts. Recycled catchphrases and inbred cliches abounded as originality and innovation expired painfully in the desert of formulaic KwikSkript.
Movements can continue to change after Law Three kicks in, but at that point it’s usually just a case of rearranging the deck chairs, not actual mutation.
A movement constructed on a false premise doesn’t challenge its followers, but rather comforts them in their flawed worldview and will easily attract followers. A movement built on a correct premise will find itself beset by dilution and corruption, which must be actively fought off or else it will degenerate into a happy feelgood kool-aid party. Regardless, a movement almost always ends up in the toilet.