The Internet and The Beautiful

The internet is a most appropriate, we might almost say idealized, manifestation of late modernity. For, in a perfect crystallization of the age, it democratizes expression, relativizes relevance, and exponentially expands the sense of exposure within the human world, both one’s own exposure to that world and its ubiquitous exposure to oneself. Since, furthermore, the human world is comprised of far more ugliness than beauty, and since the proportion of the former to the latter is naturally and irreparably indexed to the level of democratization — aka of interests and priorities defined by majority vote, where the human majority, by definition, represents the downward pull of anti-spiritual deadweight, mindless matter resistant to all form — the exponentially expanding exposure necessarily entails an increasingly suffocating blanket of ugliness. 

One gets used to it — to the revolting, non-stop idiocy of advertising, the pornograhy of amoral weirdness that is entertainment and “play,” the ranting, nihilistic stupidity of political tribalism in the digital age, the inescapable torrent of manufactured news-as-propaganda, news-as-titillation, news-as-gossip, news-as-obedience-training. The ultimate effect, ever more entrenched and therefore ever less noticed (i.e., more internalized and habituated), is the normalization of ugliness, of tawdriness, of cheapness, of the simplistic and immediate, at the expense of the beautiful, the delicate, the dignified, the complex and lasting. 

There are, in general, two possible responses of the soul to this virtual swarming of the majoritarian mob, this avalanche of the crassest consumerism, this near-universal revelry of the repugnant. One may gradually surrender, or at least learn to join them where one realizes one cannot beat them. Or one may squint and squirm through the hell of it, never accepting it as normal and having preserved enough of the soul’s inner quiet to resist, and sift when one must, though with increasing hopelessness, through this sea of repulsivity, in search of something still growing, still shimmering, still swimming with natural purpose, in the midst of this endless muck.


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