The fashion of the day

Walter Benjamin compared The French Revolution to fashion: it cited the old in a way that was new. If an age can be a fashion, what's in today?
Trends are omnipresent - on the literary scene, in pedagogy, in economics, in history. Not all of these trends are salubrious: a current parenting trend is for some children's unchecked manipulative ways to make meal times into tearful dramas.
Our zeitgeist, in true ghostly fashion, hangs out facelessly on those automated telephone labyrinths, creates superhighway gridlock and intensifies administrative matrices. Oh, but we are free, freer now than whenever before! I am so free, I go to the airport three hours earlier than I used to when I fly like a bird! I am so free, I have to watch what I say, so as to offend no one.
Not to be radical, though: it is the natural state of freedom to have its limits. It's just that I don't care for the trendy bandying around of certain words, like freedom - and equality. We are not all equal or equally free. If you don't believe me, visit a politically unpopular country (or change neighbourhoods).
The aspiration towards equality and freedom is noble, but so hard. We cannot even fathom the problems involved unless we have taken the time to get to know something diametrically opposed to ourselves. And still, the siren song of the 18th century continues to chime; down with the elite (which is curiously now equated with classicists and trained artists - those best trained to lend historical, articulate perspective to the now), up with the liberated worker who, never having been educated before, will decontextualise the education he receives, to come to fantastical conclusions, having little respect for what came before, for the respectful worker is stigmatised as old guard. But I'm not supposed to say these things.
Yet there is still a sense, among some people, that to be a responsible member of society (and  dare I say, a virtuous person) one should at least be aware of the larger society around one and be respectful of context. Think of the heritage of Balzac's oeuvres, or that we all know that slaves couldn't vote in Athens. Our education at least points to the possibility of other realities, different from our own. Today, we know that all kinds of people exist.
And yet, Paul Ricoeur observed: "No one can say what will become of our civilization when it has really met different civilizations by means other than the shock of conquest and domination. But we have to admit that this encounter has not yet taken place at the level of authentic dialogue."
When I was a child, our mother often had us do exercises from de Bono's Children Solve Problems. That is a fashion situated in the critical thinking of yesteryear that I can get my head around.
Without reverting to the visions seen through rose-tinted glasses, I would like to ask: How would you fashion the image of today? If it was a mood board, what would you put on it? What would you mix and match from the past?
While I debated where to publish this post, I remembered a line from The Elements of Style: "The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself .... Let him start ... glancing at the Trend Machine, and he is as good as dead, although he may make a nice living."

Elements: envelope, graph paper, washi tape and heart-glitter-glasses: pugly pixel.

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