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.

  • Nickelback

….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.

About nightskyradio

Random signals from nowhere in particular.

Posted on December 11, 2013, in ♫ ♪ ♫, Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Definitely on to something. It kind of reminds me of Hari Saldon’s master theory of civilization in Asimov’s Foundation series. In one of the books he briefly visits some planet where there’s some idealistic trangressive romantic art “happening” movement going on, fairly innocent and not even particularly egregious, and he thinks something like, “Hmm. This is typical late stage digrogrification, with all the signs of mikrtoyphrtaisis. This society’s totally a goner. Not a prayer.” (Well it wasn’t those exact words, but sthg. like that.)

    • From your description, it sounds like the “theory” allows for multiple pathways and not one hard-and-fast civilizational line. Too many writers (in fiction and fact) seem to assume there must be the One True Way a civilization lives and dies, including ours.

      Not to mention there’s always too many black swans in the water.

      That said, events smaller than the life and death of a civilization do exhibit patterns.

      Digrogrification should totally be a word.

      • Yeah, I actually thought the idea as presented in the Foundation series was too deterministic (kinda like, Hegelian?) and didn’t allow for black swans, as you say.

        Your laws are interesting because Stephen Jay Gould in his book about the Cambrian explosion (Wonderful Life?) seemed to be working around to a similar point about biological diversity. There’s a point in the history of life where you have these huge innovations in the forms life can take, and then as time goes on the kinds of innovations life can allow get smaller and smaller (relatively speaking, of course). The big branchings out into the basic forms we end up with now are vastly greater than the little penny ante variations you finally end up with.

  2. And this is why I have always maintained that I will never ally myself with any movement other than the cause of Christ – not the manosphere, not neo-reaction, not the red pill, none of it – though I have learned a great deal from all those things. But as the song says:

    On Christ the solid rock I stand
    All other ground is sinking sand

    • I’ve never considered myself part of, or even really allied with, any part of the manosphere, instead describing myself as that 2 AM radio station playing at the truck stop several interstate exits outside Manospheresville. I’ve got some words about the so-called manosphere and the red pill in the works that track with this post.

      I don’t know much about neo-reaction, but from what I’ve seen so far I can’t say I’m impressed. Still, I’m not all that well versed in it.

      I will never ally myself with any movement other than the cause of Christ

      Smart move.

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