The Age of Unworldliness

This is my bachelor thesis—forever unfinished, full of spelling mistakes, crude assumptions and incorrect citations. Very much in the spirit of its title. Have fun!

Growth is not only life itself—it is also a deeply embed process in (Western) society. The desire to constantly grow drives your daily life. On a cosmic level it is the never-ending expansion of the universe. On an economical level it is the driving force of capitalism which produces a $600 wifi-connected-juice-press. And on a personal level it is the voice in the back of your head telling you that you had to buy it because that juice might be healthy for you. Time to look at growth from all angles. How does growth keep producing innovative juice presses, and can it still your thirst?

Your thirst in this case is my thirst. From now on You are Me and from now on You have to deal with the things I deal. Potentially it is helpful from time to time to remember that You are Me. You are part of what they call Generation-Y. You are not really sure what that Y means but that probably just comes with it.

You are the designer who potentially makes the Facebook-ad popping up in my news feed, telling me about a new juice-press. But you are also the guy who potentially makes the YouTube-video that tells me: I can squeeze out the packs of mashed carrots that come with it by hand, instead of using the press at all. You are wondering what your role is as a designer, in a society where everyone is in constant need to design every aspect of their lives. And if it would also be OK to just buy juice from the supermarket.

You live in an age of endless possibilities. Your society does not only change at an accelerating speed through more and more technological developments. Your ever mediated environment forces you also to ask yourself if it is cool to eat meat, if your job is fulfilling, if you should break with your religious affiliation or gender binary. In this environment you constantly question reality in favor of the possibilities which surround you. This keeps you busy—Improving, Perfecting, Streamlining, Innovating. And of course You think you can do better than that.

You could build more applications and integrate more features which help you to measure, quantify and understand you and your surroundings. Or you throw away all of these shiny toys and go on a detox with a monk in the mountains of Tibet. Start complaining that everything was easier back in the days. Better could mean more of everything or less of everything—or maybe both.

2016, Subway, #SearchforBetter

In this search for better you find yourself seemingly disoriented, simultaneously thrilled—slightly anxious. Look! There are manifold ways of living which the Age of Possibilities holds prepared for you. These possibilities increasingly put you in need to decide and design for yourself. Of course, the big bad guys exploit this situation.

Getting lost in this Quest is vital. Better watch your attitude. People invented various modes of individualization and they will force you into action. But on slippery ground you are allowed to quickly change directions. Surely it is easier said than done, but you will find out how it is possible to stay in balance as a consuming, creating creature. Both perspectives need time in front of the looking glass. But what is already there, that is all it takes.

Tones switch, just like You switch your orientations. That is not arbitrary, but its significant. Find yourself, sitting upright in a comfortable position. Tranquil but alert, this is a good mode for observation. Your spine is either straight or twisted, it doesn’t really matter. What does, is a sensibilisation for your surrounding. Imagine yourself whispering this while typing. Find the community which serves you best. Stick with it for a while and let go when necessary. All this is, will and has to happen in the society you live in, at this current time, in your Age, now. You might notice that you can always give it a different name. In Fact there are many names for the thing you live in.

It is supposed to be the age of "industrial society" or "late capitalism" or "scientific and technical civilization," or the "atomic age"; it is supposed to be the age of the "work society" or the "leisure society" or the "information society"; it is supposed to be the age of "functional differentiation," or the "epoch of epochal breaks," or the "postconventional age," or the "post- European age" (already), or simply "modernity" (or even "postmodernity" already)—and so on. (Odo Marquard, The Age of Unworldliness, 1984)