Monthly Archives: November 2017
New Historicism and Cultural Materialism
My favorite novel is War and Peace, and part of the reason why I love it isn’t just because of the writing but because of the reasons why Tolstoy wrote it. Now I never considered that my love of the novel was in fact a part of what the new historicism critics were doing, but I think I can give a good example of how this works.
Barry says that, “the word of the past replaces the world of the past,” (Barry, 175) meaning that all we have to go on are the texts that have been left behind to us since the actual time in history no longer exists.
In Tolstoy’s case we could include in our analysis of War and Peace:
- His wife’s daily journal. If you ever wanted to know what a pain in the ass Tolstoy was, as well as some insight into Tolstoy’s attitude towards women, serfs, the upper-classes, and how he behaved in general, read his poor wife’s journal.
- We could look at Tolstoy’s military records (he served in the Crimean War 10 years previous to writing the novel) as well as his correspondence writing from that war in which we see him grow more disillusioned with war itself.
- We could also look at the political reforms of the 1860’s, specifically the Russian Serf Emancipation of Emperor Alexander II.
So armed with these additional texts we could get a better picture of what the author was living through at the time as well as give us extra insight into the author himself. Combined we get a bigger picture of not just what the novel is about, but why it exists in the world, why Tolstoy felt a book about the beginnings of the Decembrists Revolt was relevant half a century later.
War and Peace as seen through the old historicism lens could read:
- The characters of the novel are constrained to act in accordance with their constrained social status under the ultimate rule of the Tsar and their desire to fight Napoleon’s invasion of their country.
War and Peace as seen through the new historicism lens could read:
- The characters of the novel are greatly influenced by the new thinking of the age, such as nihilism, radical political reform, social justice, and the erosion of and political complicitness of the Orthodox church in regards to the power of the Tsar.
Iliad: The Psychological Complexity of the Warrior
“As the East and South Winds fight in killer-squalls
deep in a mountain valley thrashing stands of timber,
oak and ash and cornel with bark stretched taut and hard
and they whip their long sharp branches against each other,
a deafening roar goes up, the splintered timber crashing -” (Iliad, 16: 889)
“And he forged a fallow field, broad rich plowland”
“still more Paeonian men the runner would have killed
if the swirling river had not risen, crying out in fury,
taking a man’s shape, its voice breaking out of a whirlpool:” (Iliad, 21:237)
The most common telling of the Herculean myth – part of the wider series of cult myths which were told all through ancient Mediterranean culture, perhaps as a regional / societal reflex to the civilizing force that had shifted these native Mediterranean cultures away from their more “barbaric” pasts into a somewhat more unified (possibly through trade) city culture – is found in Apollodorus of Athens’ encyclopedic retelling of the labors: Hercules kills his children and must undertake a dangerous task to make amends for his crimes.
Why would Hercules kill his own children? Apollodorus only tells us that “Heracles was struck by madness through the jealousy of Hera,” (73), but what exactly is this jealousy of Heracles that fuels Hera’s rage? A possible answer is that Hera is attempting to keep Zeus’ seed from spreading and influencing the region any further. However, Hercules’ crime leads to his need for an expiation of his guilt through the undertaking of the labors. These labors have a strong civilizing force in that not only is Hercules carrying out the commands of Eurystheus, the ruler of Tiryns who is using Hercules to rid the surrounding lands of dangers to his kingdom, but by his very travels he is influencing these lands with his (and by proxy, Zeus’) presence (religion). Therefore we have a civilizing force working on behalf of a city that is successful because of his relation to Zeus. Hera is ultimately unsuccessful in thwarting her husband’s plans and is eventually reconciled (hierogamy) with Hercules after “he obtained immortality,” and “married her daughter, Hebe,” (91).
Interestingly, we are seeing the evolved remnants of some of the themes we have covered so far: overthrow and creation. In previous myths we have seen how the younger generations have overthrown their parents (Zeus, Marduk), yet Hera reverses this trend and now wishes to kill her husband’s offspring because of her jealousy. She is a more complex character because we are now getting another point of view, just as we see in the Rig Veda when the Maruts disagree with Indra (Rig Veda, 167) over who has rights to a sacrifice (power struggle). We also see the remnants of the creation myth in that Greek civilization is “creating” the Mediterranean world in its own image through Hercules’ slaying of the terrible monsters. Yet we and the contemporary audience of this myth have already moved into a world of pure mythos to explain the creation of the world because the world already exists, it’s just uncivilized and therefore needs a civilizing force to tame it, not to actually create it out of the corpses of the slain monsters (such as Marduk slaying Tiamat).
And it is this moving out of a world of pure Logos (priestly myths exclusively for a priestly class) and into a world of Mythos (a world of regular people living in cities) that leads us to Euripides’ retelling of the Herculean myth. Euripides changes one key aspect of the basic story: Hercules kills his children after he has completed his labors and gone down into to Hades. Hercules is changed from a character who only possess great physical courage which allows him to complete the labors into someone more psychologically complex who also possess great moral courage to endure the pain he has caused. Hercules initially wants to kill himself (a reflex of his previous form), but his friend, Theseus talks him out suicide because talk of killing oneself is “the words of an ordinary man,” (Euripides 330). Hercules is not an ordinary man not just because he will not kill himself (as an ordinary man would do), or because he is the child of Zeus (semi-divine, and in that sense not at all like anyone in the audience listening to the play), but because he has the moral courage to endure this terrible pain, his “last worst labor,” (Euripides 331). Hercules must and can serve as an example not just as someone who is physically strong and can protect the city (civilization), but is also morally strong and can serve his fellow man, similar to how Gilgamesh devoted his life to serving his city after his failed journey.
This psychological complexity is important because for a warrior, such as Hercules or Gilgamesh to live in society, he has to channel his great powers into something that does not disrupt the delicate balance of living within a city (civilization). Civilization has rules and laws that must be imposed on even a semi-divine hero, like Hercules, to maintain order. The warrior’s code of self-rule is overruled by codified laws (such as Hammurabi). Though his actions have helped create civilization through the act of “All those wars I fought, those beasts I slew” (Euripides, 331) he most certainly suffers from what we would call PTSD (no longer is it Hera’s rage, but rather something mental and interior to the individual; a Freudian repression) and must figure out how to live alongside the common people / his neighbors. This is a new kind of hero who serves the city and can cope with the burdens of life by channeling (what Freud calls Sublimation) the destructive impulses (recall that Hercules is a reflex of Zeus; Zeus’s thunderbolt and Hercule’s club are similar projections of male violence) into something more constructive, and less terrifying for his neighbors.
Simply by switching the order of events – the labors as a penance for the killing of his children into the labors as the reason why he killed his children – we see the evolution of heroic myth from that of a hero clad in lion skins and swinging a giant club at anyone who gets in his way in a barbaric society and who merely possess great physical courage into the city poetry that worships someone who is morally courageous and therefore someone more recognizable and imitable by the common people rather than just the priests who ritualize the mythos of creation in the temples, someone who can rationalize a problem rather than simply apply violence to every situation and can unite people through example rather than brute force. In this way the evolution of the Herculean myth is a combining of both the characters Gilgamesh (civilized, city) and Enkidu (wild, barbaric) into one new vision of the heroic example.
M. Butterfly (opera): Marxism: Power Relationship Nodes and Connections
I thought it might be fun to do a map of some of the connections found in the Madame Butterfly opera and explore how these relationships relate to historical and materialist criticism. I stuck to only a few major relationships, however many, many more could be explored. I had also intended to do a map for Pinkerton as well, but Butterfly’s alone was so in-depth that I’m just sticking to this one example. I intentionally left out Pinkerton and Sharpless (and their corresponding connections and nodes) so I could limit my focus to that solely of culture / society / the state (the power structures).
For Butterfly’s map of power relationship nodes and connections I placed Japan at the top and Butterfly at the bottom since I felt this best explains the pressures Butterfly feels in the opera and this gives us a good visual shorthand visualizing how complicated her situation is as well as how powerless she seems to be with so much weight bearing down on her. Marx explains how the individual can often feel alienated or oppressed from the world in which they are participating and this map shows how Butterfly might feel about the world / society she wishes to divorce herself from.
As we learned at the beginning of the unit our condition is affected by our environment and shapes how we interact with the world. In Butterfly’s case she is greatly influenced by her being Japanese, as we see with a line directly from Japan to Butterfly, and this is a major factor in how she interprets her world. Even her desire to break free of this power structure is informed by her Japanese-ness, and not an American-ness (such as the ideal of American individualism / rebelliousness) of which she knows very little outside of magazines and Pinkerton’s relationship to her. In this sense Japan is what Marx calls the base and everything that follows (below on my map) is the superstructure of which that society (Butterfly’s world) consists.
I’ve next made a split below Japan into Family and Society. These are smaller units of the larger Japan and are directly related in both directions, but they are distinct in that Butterfly would identify with each in different ways. For example Suzuki and her son, Sorrow are part of her intimate network of caregivers and providers while her Uncle, though a blood relation (unlike Suzuki) is a reminder of the pressures of Society. Both nodes also represent unique ideologies: Family is that which Butterfly is trying to create anew – the dynamic of Butterfly, the servant Suzuki, and the fatherless child is not a traditional family – and Society is that ideology from which she is trying to free herself from, as we can see with nodes such as Goro, Prince Yamadori, and the Geisha House all falling under that heading.
Other connections we could make might be economic, such as the Geisha House which can provide her with a source of income if she is willing to submit herself to that life again, but also the economic situation of her own House which, with the money quickly running out, is a source of stress and oppression which, if unresolved, could force her, literally, from one house (her House under the Family node) to the other (the Geisha House under the Society node).
All-in-all this map represents the state and State in which Butterfly lives in. The state is broken up into two categories: the repressive state apparatus which coerces power, such as the nodes Goro and Prince Yamadori, both of whom actively try to influence her behavior. We could also look to the dream sequence in the film as a coercive apparatus where the black and white newsreel imagery of a modern and powerful (military) Japanese society is, as Freud might tell us, is actively influencing her through the subconscious.
The other category is the ideological state apparatus and an example from our map that fits here would be the Family. The Family is, of course, related to Society in that Society is informing the Family members how to behave (as Japanese) – as we see with the Uncle’s influence / warnings – but it is also a separate node in this case because Butterfly is part of a non-traditional family – she is married to a foreigner, she is a single mother, and her only close companion is someone from a lower class, Suzuki. This ideological state Butterfly exists in also helps us understand how, as Althusser questions, change can take place within the State (capital “S”) because we can see how her circumstance isolates her and informs her decisions to insist on this Family ideology over the Society ideology.
Yet even though she is favoring one ideology over another, we can see how these ideologies are interpolated and how Butterfly is an interpolated subject (and Subject) within the overall ideology of Japan / Japanese-ness. Althusser wonders how is it that societies remain stable and why do people chose to remain submissive to their state and State, and these interconnections explain how a person is defined by their state (State) and how complicated it can be to extract oneself from these ideologies – if that’s even possible at all.
One final point, and one which is not on our map, is that of the magazines Butterfly reads. For her these magazines are a source of education and information that she uses as motivation (power) to free herself from her current ideological state (and State). This information she has access to runs counter to the ideology of Japanese society by showing how western women should look and behave. She is consciously privileging this counter-narrative (binary) and she is interpreting this information in a way that she believes will give her power. For example, she begins to dress as an American thus privileging one interpretation of Society (American) over another Society (Japan). From this information she has constructed a narrative in which she is the good American housewife and this gives her a power of will to endure the absence of Pinkerton, an absence which is not just emotionally painful, but also economically (the lack of money) and socially painful (the shunning of her Uncle’s Family).
Finally we can trace Butterfly’s discourse, or the limits of her experience as it relates to her state / State. Butterfly’s relationship to the ideology of the State is unique and she seems to be actively rebelling against her condition within the State, however she is not doing so as, say, a modern feminist who is challenging the hegemony (such discourse does not exist for her, even if some of her actions do coincidently align with that discourse). Butterfly’s discourse is chiefly social / societal because her previous life as a practical slave in the Geisha House (which came about because of her family’s fall from respect and a need for money) is something she refuses to return to. She has existed within the machine of Society and she wants to free herself from that oppression, and oppression so powerful it actually took her real name, Cio-Cio-san, away from her (loss of identity via the State). She has seen how alienating and oppressive the State is, she bears the scars of her state, and so she reacts against these states by attempting to forge a new narrative / ideology / identity. Yet her tragedy is that she cen never really escape her state / State and in the end suffers the ultimate alienation of all states: Death
Holy Family with St John the Baptist, 1599, Adam Elsheimer
Marxism: Althusser’s ‘Ideology’
For Althusser ‘ideology’ is a very particular term that he theorizes very carefully. Explain in your own words, using quotes from Althusser’s essay, what he means by ‘ideology’? How is Althusser’s notion of ideology different from 18th and 19th century theorizations of the relationship between an individual and his social conditions?
He begins with Thesis 1: “Ideology represents the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence.”
Thesis 1 ideology is saying that what we refer to as “religious ideology, ethical ideology, [etc.],” (693) are “largely imaginary,” and “do not correspond to reality,” (693). He does say that ideologies make “allusion to reality,” (693) and therefore need to be interpreted so we can see the real world that exists behind these imaginary representations of our world. In other words it’s like the René Magritte’s painting The Human Condition where we’re looking behind what the canvas (the canvas in the painting) is hiding.
He then explains there are two ways we can interpret reality: mechanistic, which he relates to the relationship between the King being a representation of God, and hermeneutic, which says “God is the essence of real Man,”(693). He sums this up by saying we use the imaginary to represent reality.
Next he explains that one way this worked was that those in power (Priests or Despots) were the responsible agents that “forged,” (694) an ideology to control the people. Another way was through “material alienation,” (694) in which we create an imaginary (alienating) “representation of [our] condition,” (694) because we have been alienated by these representations. Not quite sure what he’s getting at with material alienation – why would we create that which we has already alienated us?
He explains, “What is represented in ideology is therefore not the system of the real relations which govern the existence of individuals, but the imaginary relation of those individuals to the real relations in which they live,” (695). In other words, Thesis 1 ideology is our relationship with our condition of existence.
M. Butterfly: Feminism: Is Gender Identity Natural / Innate or Socially Constructed?
Is gender identity natural/innate or socially constructed? Are specific bodies linked to specific behaviors/appearances/identities male= masculine, female= feminine?
Considering how contentious both sides of this debate is I believe the answer is “a little bit of both”. For example, in the film Song is constructing a feminine identity designed to please a Western male, while Gallimard (the Western male) possesses many innate feminine characteristics. Both sides of the debate are presented here amid a backdrop of social revolution to show how fluid and complicated the distinction is while hinting at a “radical” possibility of a world in which there is no distinction to be made (the communist state where everyone is “equal”). The film is using the characters as binaries to help us understand gender by differentiating between them and then mixes them together until the distinction is so blurred that we can no longer tell where one end and the other begins.
When we look at the essentialist argument we are presented with biological differences: a woman’s body is (usually) reproductive, whereas a man’s body is (usually) more muscular. Just inhabiting a certain physical body can influence how we interact with the world, such as someone who is blind will interact with the world differently than a sighted person. The essentialists believe that “[w]omen are more caring,” (Rivkin, 530) but also can be defined as that which is “not male”, a nonidentity expressed through ecriture feminine that is fluid and non-rational. The problem here is that, as with my example of someone who is blind, it seems to be creating a hierarchy where there might perhaps be a preferred state of being (sighted is preferred over blind), or with the ecriture feminine that women will fall into the stereotype of being mysterious as opposed to logical.
From the constructivist side of the argument it seems the essentialists are “taking an effect to be a cause” (Rivkin, 530) where biology is used as a sort of excuse to subordinate women. The argument is taken even further to say that in a capitalist society women are assigned from birth, based on their sex, to behave in a way that benefits the state by staying at home and performing as “domestic laborers,” (Rivkin, 530). In other words gender is a social construct and therefore can be deconstructed or thrown out altogether. However, this is also problematic in that it has the possibility of leading to there being no distinction at all between men and women and that our biology plays no role in our gender.
The film presents this problem of competing ideologies by showing us that gender exists on a spectrum, that gender is a representation of a reality, a reality we construct but that it is also based on the hyper-real in which there is no absolute ideal model or form to base it on. Both Song and Gallimard construct their reality out of what they think defines their gender. Song looks at fashion magazines, Gallimard looks to Puccini, but in both cases they are drawing on constructed identities and not anything concrete and specific, it is all imitation where there is no original.
All this then leads to the performative nature of gender, “the way in which gender is constructed through specific corporeal acts,” (Butler, 2). The most extreme examples of this is within the media where we are influenced and stereotyped into performing a specific gender script. The models in Song’s magazines are grotesquely feminine with their gaudy makeup, and the characters in Puccini’s opera are embarrassingly stereotypical. Yet both Song and Gallimard have been heavily influenced by these images and initially act out according to what they believe is the script they should be following. It is no wonder then that they both wind up being punished by society for breaking away from these “putatively regulated cultural fictions,” (Butler, 4). Society believes Song and Gallimard are gender “imposters” who have been exposed and must be punished for going against the roles they have been assigned.
Yet what and who is this society that is imposing these roles on the actors? Again, the film seems to be commenting on this society by giving us characters who are both male. Typically males have held the dominant role in society (hegemony) yet here both males are struggling with what it means to even be male. Gallimard does not fit the role of the typical male in that he is ridiculed by his colleagues, is ineffectual in his attempt to assert his political views, and winds up falling in love with a biological man. Song, too is a critique of the male hegemonic system in that Song as a biological man seems to know more what it is to be a woman than a biological woman does. Song controls the relationship, demands a child be given to her/him, and puts Gallimard in a subservient role in the relationship. In short Song acts very masculine while putting on the staged trappings of the feminine. And again we have a blurring of the lines of what it means to be masculine in that during the time we believed Song to be biologically a woman we accepted her seemingly masculine actions as being “normal” because she was a foreigner who acts different than we do. But when Song is exposed as a biological male, Gallimard turns against Song even though the only thing that has really changed is the biology – Song’s actions had always been quite masculine but once the male essence had been added to the male biology then Gallimard rejects Song even though he had been attracted to a very masculine identity in every other way other than in the biological sense.
This is an interesting critique of the patriarchy in that it shows how fluid and malleable this institution really is. And in the end there does seem to be – from Gallimard – an understanding that the patriarchy has been in control the whole time and has dominated his view of what a relationship can be. The entire time he has been manipulated by a biological male who has control over him and so by setting up Gallimard as a more feminine male we can really see how this affects biological women because we see how the power dynamic oppresses and penalizes women in this system through the lens of taking away the power from our example of a biological male (Gallimard). In other words by exposing a male as feminine and then oppressing this male, we can see how men use power to emasculate other men as well as oppress women by attempting to make them inferior. This also exposes the troubling subordination of homosexuals in society.
Through all this it is no wonder that society seems to be comfortable in creating very rigid and specific roles to play because at least by having a script we aren’t left to have to figure out how to navigate gender with no guide whatsoever. Connell says that, “[t]here is likely to be a ‘fit’ between hegemonic masculinity and emphasized femininity,” (Connell, 61) because having these defined stage directions in our script is, “more familiar and manageable,” (Connell, 61). In other words we do not have to worry about being placed on trial or sent to a quarry to break rocks as long as we stick to the roles given to us.
Feminism: The Ascendance of Masculinities
Why do men need the ascendance of masculinities (Rambo, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger) that highlight the failures of living up to these hegemonic figures and expectations?
I’d argue men do not need it and quite often are very tired of this “creation of models of masculinity,” (61). For many men the whole “ritual of induction into trade and masculinity,” (62) as highlighted by the example of London printers is very much a drudgery and the relief of acceptance is more a relief that it’s over and that the ritual doesn’t have to be repeated (at least at such a base level), not so much that men actually enjoy it. The feeling of being “brothers,” (62) is more akin to a sort of Stockholm syndrome than one of having participated in a system they were proud to be a part of as they went through it. Ask a man who’s been in the military and then been in combat and while he’ll talk of the brotherhood of his unit, he’s not going to have much (if anything) good to say about the war itself. A band of brothers is created out of necessity rather than as a goal to cope with the horrors of the indoctrination.
There is also the level of insecurity men feel specifically because there is no attaining the ideal of someone like Mohammed Ali. And the inherent violence in many male “fantasy,” (61) figures is not an extension of men’s (assumed) seething violence that is ready to boil over at the drop of a feather, but rather a feeling of aggression towards that which makes men feel inadequate. Men are at war with insecurity itself because men are unable to attain the “model of masculinity,” (61).
The real takeaway, however, is for men to be aware of what this system is actually perpetuating. By being complicit in this system (61) it has the effect of forcibly subordinating (specifically) women by maintaining “the maintenance of practices that institutionalize men’s dominance over women,” (61). Through awareness of the consequences of participating in hyper-masculinity then perhaps change towards equality can occur while at the same time relieving men of the insecurity of not being able to live up to a concocted ideal.
Adam Wagner’s response:
I am inclined to agree with Dan to a certain degree. I think society as a whole is seeing a stray from the hyper-masculine physical type of portrayal we’ve seen in the past. The most classic example of Superhero movies is (slowly but nonetheless) moving towards a more diverse cast. Heroes are becoming more complex rather than just a Superman-esque beat ‘em up type.
That being said, I do think there is still a hegemonic masculinity in regards to being ‘center stage.’ We may not see the Arnold Schwarzenegger types nearly as often, but there is still a strive for “a social ascendancy achieved in a play into the organization of private life and cultural processes” (Connell). This is seen specifically in blue-collar type media. Take, for instance, Wolf of Wall Street. While this film was based on a true story, it is interesting regardless to view it as placing men center stage. The main character does despicable things to reach his place of wealth. Despite this, does the audience despise him? No, rather he is almost cheered on. Why? Because there is always an inclination towards wishing victory for one – specifically, victory for one we’ve considered as historically ‘victorious’ for so long. The audience is accustomed to supported the strong, leader male in the aforementioned physical strength way and this transfers to the ‘new’ wealthy protagonist; money is taking priority over physical ability.
This can also be seen in the general mindset of college-aged Millenials. If one were to approach a white, twenty-something college male student and ask “what do you want to do after college?” the response would most certainly involve trips and expenses that would, at their current wage level be impossible. There is a general assumption of success in the future. This is the idea of Wolf of Wall Street – any man with intelligence can achieve fantastic success. Of course, in an actual society, the level of wealth most individuals strive for is unattainable, leading to general unhappiness. Despite these examples, most white males cannot help but imagine themselves this way as that is what the modern day role model (Robert Downey Jr, Leonardo DiCaprio, so on) portrays.
As well, in a similar setting, if you talk to females about the future a frequent joke is “oh, I’ll just marry rich!” This isn’t the overall mindset, but it is heard often nonetheless. While female-empowering movies are, thankfully, appearing more frequently, these movies are focusing on the physical aspect of before. While this is still important, there are not nearly as many economic and intellectually empowering movies coming to light. While, admittedly, not a big movie-goer, the last big-hit success of this nature I can recall was Legally Blonde in 2001. Women in power are becoming more vocal about this issue; however, it is still not nearly as prevalent in big-hit media.
With regards to the physical attributes, I think Dan is certainly right. We are seeing a decline in the physically masculine ascension. Yet, I do think in commercials and other media the blue-collar, white businessman is becoming even more prevalent. Being rich is the new masculine.
Excellent point about Wolf of Wall Street being a more modern ideal of masculinity. I do think it’s interesting that this ideal is played for comedy, however. A lot of the film is very funny and the filmmakers do not pull any punches on judging these characters harshly – they are greedy, vain, and egocentric. The ideals of masculinity are being made fun of for how buying into these ideals can be seen as negative and have a negative effect on the people around them.
Other films which also question these roles would be There Will Be Blood that is quite critical of the drive for greed at all costs, even though Daniel Plainview (the main character) is hyper-masculine. No Country For Old men shows how old fashioned the John Wayne type is and how the old ideals of masculinity can’t exist in the modern world. The Social Network goes even further and makes the main, male character who is wildly successful into a lonely, maladjusted figure deserving of ridicule. And a film like Goodfellas that seems to glamorize that lifestyle is really a harsh critique of it and exposes the male ideal of being a powerful male who can do anything he wants (including murder) as being a false ideal that can only destroy us.
Adam Wagner’s response:
I find your back-and-forth interesting, but I would also like to point out that every example you give (Wolf of Wall Street, There Will Be Blood, The Social Network, etc.) the men are *still* rich, white, and successful. Yes, the films/filmmakers judge them harshly for their behavior, but they are also still portraying these traits as something that will ultimately lead to wealth/success. To be sure, there is a lot to be said for the negative connotations being portrayed here, but in my opinion it is also saying that the metaphorical “Deal With The Devil” will always pay handsomely if you are willing to sacrifice your soul.
I know this kind-of leads back to your original point, but I am also still troubled by the current ideology that equates being rich with being morally corrupt. If, as you say, Rich is the new Masculine, then we are *also* tying Masculine with morally bankrupt. If it has become impossible (In popular culture) to obtain financial success without also sacrificing your soul (metaphorically speaking), what will the next generation be left to conclude from this line of reasoning? I, myself, do actually see this change as a positive one because it will ultimately discourage the narrative of “Masculinity” as something Noble or Admirable. In my mind, anything that makes it harder for the world to produce more power-hungry people is a positive change, but I am also left asking what this will cost humanity as a species.
I know I’ve derailed your conversation a bit from where you started, but I find all of this super interesting in a meta-societal way.
Spring Evening Banquet at the Peach and Pear Blossom Garden, late 17th or early 18th century, Leng Mei