Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Meaning of Modernity

Most simply assume a "meaning of life." Few actually consider the question as something worthy of adults to worry over. What's the moral of the story? Who cares. Act, and that is ones life.

For some, the question is settled, settled for those who attend church, who believe in some outside programme, who have access to institutional forms of set-meaning. For those who find a positive, life-affirming, and possible pattern to live within, institutional belief is meaningful and good. Those are the smart ones. For the rest, there is an empty pit, dark and deep and bottomless. Often that pit where meaning could be is covered over with tattoos, filled with alcohol, dismissed uncritically with drugged euphoria and despair. Most don't even think to ask the question: "What is the meaning of life?" Some few who do flee from the freedom of lack of understanding and the problem of not ever knowing. They might join group madnesses of political parties that give identity where the person is hollow. Anything other than the pitiful emptiness of nothingness.

Sophie Taylor, "Lifelike dolls repel and attract"

Thu Jul 17, 2008
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EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Their chests rise and fall and you can hear a tiny heartbeat, but these babies for sale over the Internet are not alive.

"Reborn babies" are disconcertingly life-like baby dolls carefully crafted in vinyl, which have become swiftly popular mainly with collectors, but also with nostalgic grandparents and grieving parents.

Made and collected by an online community of enthusiasts, they are painted several times to create the mottled colour of newborn skin, have mohair hair and eyelashes, and are weighted to make them feel as heavy as human babies.

Fans of the hobby, who call it "reborning", are mostly women and increasingly guarded about discussing it since media reports highlighted their purchase by bereaved parents, prompting some to portray the hobby as macabre.

"Cuddle therapy" is what one reborning Website calls the hobby -- the dolls' bodies can be fitted with electronic devices that mimic a heartbeat and breathing.

Department store Harrods -- whose motto is "Everything for Everybody Everywhere" -- describes them as "a bit too life-like" to stock, and collectors themselves say the dolls can cause feelings of intense unease, even disgust.

"I pick them up and I change them and I do hold them like a baby now and again -- it's relaxing," said doll-owner Gill, a 50-year-old grandmother who asked to remain anonymous because of the way reborning has been portrayed in the media.

Reborners say their hobby began in the United States in the early 1990s, with dolls becoming more and more realistic over time. Media coverage helped spread the idea to other countries, mainly Britain and Australia. Continued...


Daniel Flynn, "Britons arrested in Greek sex competition."

ATHENS (Reuters) - Nine British women were facing prostitution charges after being arrested at the weekend for taking part in an oral sex competition in the Greek holiday island of Zakynthos, police said on Monday.

Six British and six Greek men, including two bar owners, were also charged in the incident, which took place at Laganas beach in the south of the Ionian island, which lies off the west coast of mainland Greece, police said.

The women, who came to the popular resort on holiday, had been paid to take part in the competition, which was video recorded and was to be posted on the Internet, police said.

The men were charged with encouraging obscene behaviour.

In recent years, Laganas has established itself as one of Greece's most popular destinations for twenty-something holidaymakers and is known for its wild party scene.

Islam has its attractions. It is a "total way of life."

Modernity has its problems. It can be a total nihilism.

Utopian poligions such as Islam or fascism, or other forms of fascism we don't think of as fascism, such as utopian socialisms, are dead-ends that close off and destroy the search for a genuine "meaning of life." Modernity, left to itself, can result in a dirtiness one is simply ashamed of. It is to the credit of Modernity that such things are possible for the person to decide.