welcome to the neutral ground podcast
this is the last episode of our
three-part series where we examine what
i believe are the three defining traits
of neo-modernism thus far
if you haven't seen the previous two
take some time to listen to those as
well because in a lot of ways all of
these kind of work together
our final defining trait of
is the importance of creating sacred
in my opinion this is likely the trait
that is most responsible for the
contentious cultural climate
contentious cultural climate well that's
quite the alliteration there we
currently feel or experience today
and it's something that we have been
craving for quite some time
so we'll talk about the positives and
the negatives of our yearning for sacred
space in this episode
okay so let me set the stage for this
discussion with a story about a time
that i messed up as a husband to my
wonderful wife
my wife absolutely loves the movie sense
and sensibility from
1995. it's of course based on the jane
austen novel of the same name
my wife will put that movie on in the
background sometimes when she you know
just has some kind of menial task to do
something that is repetitive and doesn't
really require tremendous consciousness
but she likes hearing the movie in the
one of the stars of the film is none
other than the great
late alan rickman
you know hans from die hard for those of
you who are a little bit older
professor snape from harry potter for
those of you who might be a little less
i had a brilliant idea
i decided that i was going to expand
dare i say amplify her enjoyment of the
by giving it a
let's call it postmodern
i loaded the movie in my editing
and in every point of the film that alan
rickman spoke as the character colonel
i inserted a line that rickman spoke
from the movie die hard
so here's alan rickman in this jane
austen film and instead of saying some
beautifully composed austinian dialogue
he says things like i must have missed
60 minutes
i could talk about men's fashion all day
and of course
a yipi kaye
now if you've been listening to the
podcast you probably already know why
this is a post-modern interpretation
i took the dominant narrative and
infused a kind of skepticism
in order to disrupt that dominant
narrative and highlight something else
additionally i mocked the sanctity
of that original narrative and opened it
up for ridicule
some of you at least i hope are probably
thinking okay that's actually pretty
pretty funny honestly
well as much as my ego loves to hear
that and by all means go to the
neutralgroundpodcast.com and leave me an
audio message to let me know that it's
pretty funny
as much as that inflates
my ego
the only person
that i wanted to make laugh was my
amazing wife and i failed
to her credit
she didn't say anything mean or yell at
she just watched it with this kind of
disinterested disappointment
it only took me about 20 minutes of the
to realize what i had done
you see my wife
created a kind of sacred space for
herself with that movie
there's something about it that almost
you could say creates like a sandbox
from which she can just
enjoy an hour and a half
without being worried about anything
outside of that space
i actually have movies that create that
kind of space as well i love watching
the lord of the rings trilogy at least
once a year if i can because it gives me
it gives me strength
and it prompts me to reevaluate
suffering heroism and humanity
that's a kind of sacred space
for me as well
okay now we need to start getting
deeper and more particular about this
let's be clear
neither myself nor my wife believe that
these films sense and sensibility and
the lord of the rings are globally
sacred spaces
they're personal ones
they aren't yours
when we meet other people who love those
we can open them up to others in order
to expand the sacredness of those spaces
and then when the conversation is over
we can close them up again
and keep them for ourselves
now you might be thinking
look it was a joke
we need to be able to joke about
well guess what
that need
to be able to joke about everything
that's likely your sacred space
you want to make sure that every aspect
of human existence remains open to jokes
and that's fine if that's your
sacred space right that's your way of
trying to carve out something
that you think is important
because if it wasn't your sacred space
you genuinely wouldn't care
if some things are not open to ridicule
and other things are
now this example is is meant to just
serve as an easy and hopefully somewhat
humorous way into what is a very
important discussion for us
in that story i told i'm
i'm just kind of talking about movies
there but
expand the categories to larger concepts
like identity religion
politics and human experience
and you can start to see how we've
worked our way into
this contentious atmosphere
that i think we all feel
so let's start to organize these ideas a
little bit more
now very quickly because we've talked ad
nauseam about post-modernism but the
need for some sense of sacred space does
come out of the complete breakdown and
rejection of sacred space and grand
narratives that emerges in
post-modernism but especially toward the
the end of post-modernism in the 1990s
and early to mid-2000s
when that rubber band of historical
movements snaps
you're often left with so much potential
energy turned kinetic
that we have
kind of over corrections
thus in neo-modernism we have grown
of the lack of sacred space and have
created intensely personal sacred spaces
ones that we are
not just willing to defend
but that we feel a kind of calling
to defend
now you might be thinking there's kind
of a problem here
i'm talking about the creation of
individual sacred spaces
and much of the arguing and anger that
we see today seems to be group oriented
and i would argue that you have to go
this is not about group identity
it's about the sculpting of individual
identity within a group
that's not the same thing
think about how many times you hear
someone say
well that person doesn't represent my
interpretation of
and insert whatever
group of individuals you're talking
about or or idea
in a lot of ways that person is telling
the truth
as human beings we are social right
we're a social species
we are
with a few exceptions comfortable when
we are with others
building individual sacred spaces is
actually quite a frightening endeavor
because you have to believe in something
you have to take a stand on the premise
that this idea person or thing
is worth me having to defend the
sacredness of it
and that is a difficult thing to do when
you already know that the majority of
humans outside of yourself
will not agree
that what you've identified as sacred
is worthy of defense
it's for this reason that in
neo-modernism there will always be the
temptation to slide yourself into a
group of people who are at the very
least closely aligned
with your sacred space because now you
have a much bigger force that can help
you defend at least parts of your sacred
but and herein lies the rub
the problem with the extreme groups
of individuals and yes i use this term
they are groups of individuals
the problem is that you sacrifice the
uniqueness of your sacred space for
not only do you sacrifice
parts of your unique sacred space when
you join extreme groups
you become responsible to the group
in a kind of
bastardization of rousseau's general
will concept even extreme groups start
to settle
on broad ideas that they can share
that they can use as shields
from which they can defend
the entire group
you become responsible for whatever that
group decides it's going to push forward
as its
settled general will
and that can be dangerous and
destructive to the sacred space that you
to move through neo-modernism with some
sense of sanity
it's the reason why i'm trying to pull
people out of the extremes
and implore people to construct their
own personal sacred space
now this doesn't mean that you can't or
share yourself in groups and be a part
of humanity not at all
in fact i would argue we need to be even
more involved with humanity
with each other
we need to get back to the idea that we
all have larger concepts that connect us
love suffering fear joy
the need for purpose
these larger ideals
are the general will
of the human species
okay so the creation of individual
sacred spaces might seem like a negative
thing here but it isn't
i would argue that each and every one of
us needs to have some place some thing
that we can attach ourselves to that
allows us to seriously reflect on who we
are and who we want to be
individuals who subscribe to some form
of religion you have sacred space built
into the infrastructure of religion
itself you can use that as your sacred
space then as a way of giving you the
time and focus that we need to rebalance
our humanity
if you're not religious
that still doesn't preclude you from
needing something that is sacred i've
mentioned this before
but it isn't by coincidence that all of
a sudden everyone is interested in
meditation as if meditation and prayer
are concepts that we just now invented
no they've been around for thousands of
meditation is quite literally you
attempting to carve out sacred space for
so that you can then transcend
the body the physical form
it's a serious place not one that is
open to ridicule and mockery
we want to come out of meditation and
prayer better people
not just for ourselves
but for those we love most
it's important that we
take some time here to remember that
neo-modernism is a kind of updated
version of modernism
and remember the overarching trait of
is redefinition
that same trait runs through
neo-modernism as well
we are desperately trying to nail down
specific definitions of what it means to
human and in doing so we are butting
heads with each other
when they don't agree with us
nonetheless the pull to try and redefine
what it means to be human is
what i mean is that it's a very real
pull that we're feeling right now
let's take a look at some neo-modern
literature and poetry and break down how
it speaks to this idea of building
sacred space
and the troubles that come with it
now for the sake of copyrights and
respecting the author's right to sell
and publish the work i'm not going to
read the whole thing i'm only going to
look at
two maybe three parts and and encourage
all of you to read the rest on your own
and possibly even purchase the author's
book of poems
the author's name here the poet's name
is ocean vung
that's v-u-o-n-g
the title of the poem we're looking at
i'll love ocean vang
and it can be found and purchased as
part of a collection of poems entitled
night sky with exit wounds
it was published in 2016
although the specific poem we're looking
at was first published i believe in
let's just look at the first nine lines
of the poem here
don't be afraid
the end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us
don't worry
your father is only your father
until one of you forgets
like how the spine won't remember its
no matter how many times our knees kiss
the pavement
are you listening
okay let's pause for a minute and break
this down
first you have the direct reference to
one's self
we do this sometimes in our own heads
right as a way of trying to force
consciousness of the moment we are
prepping ourselves for something that we
believe is important
the poet writes don't be afraid
in a world of ever increasing levels of
worries that range from collective
concerns of catastrophic exist you know
extinction level events to individual
pessimistic attitudes that any
individual on earth
truly cares about us
including ourselves
van comes out of the gate with this poem
hitting us on the neo-modern levels of
darkness loneliness
and the struggle to try and focus
enough to create some sense of sacred
and that is what the speaker of the poem
is trying to do carve out the mindset
that it's necessary to build
sacred space
let's skip to another section here
ocean get up
the most beautiful part of your body is
where it's headed
and remember
loneliness is still time spent
with the world
now i make no bones about the fact that
my love of literature resides mostly in
the pre-world war one era
however these five lines
are magnificent
and here's why i think so
you have the speaker once again
addressing the consciousness
in fact we have not one but two
references to the name ocean
what the author is kind of about to say
to the self here right
is very
important however the repetition of the
name indicates not simply that what to
come is important but it's also an
indication of just how difficult it is
to focus ourselves
lost so much ability to focus to reflect
that we almost need to physically shake
ourselves from the dreamlike state that
is created by our technologies and how
we use our technologies today
how they dictate our time in existence
what does the speaker say
get up
the most beautiful part of your body is
where it's headed
you know one of the biggest problems
that we face today is the mindset that
there is no more important moment in
than right now
how we're feeling in the present moment
is the only truth that exists
think about how many arguments are
created today not because of any genuine
feelings of anger but rather because we
feel angry in the moment
but that anger is not really
of how we feel 95 of the time
this happens in marriage doesn't it
you feel frustrated in a moment about
something that you think is suddenly
we say something like you always
but it's not actually true
they don't always
nonetheless in that present moment
we actually feel like it is always
in that moment there is no truer
statement than you always
what we need to do is not give in to
that present transient truth
we need to walk away and allow our minds
enough time to think about that truth
reflect upon it and if it's still there
in the coming days then address it
i would say about 99 of the time our
minds end up telling us
it's not true
move on
the poem attempts to establish this idea
by saying the most beautiful part of
your body is where it's headed
it's challenging us to see the road
ahead of us to see the beauty that is
to not get lost in the present
there is hope there is beauty there is
in front of us
you just have to recognize it
finally the author writes
loneliness is still time spent
with the world
this is profoundly beautiful in its
loneliness as bad as it is
is still a feeling
it's an acknowledgement that you are
here you exist
loneliness is universal
it's something that we share from the
first human beings to the very last
and there is something beautiful and
even sad
universal human traits because you
realize that others have come before you
it's not just your
loneliness it's our loneliness
now don't misunderstand me here
do not fall in love with loneliness and
that's a very real potential danger
you romanticize your loneliness to the
point that you become a misanthrope
someone who believes that you thrive on
solitude you're kidding yourself
i'm not saying that you don't experience
comfort in solitude or that we don't all
need solitude sometimes
what i'm saying is that you can be even
you can be an even greater form of
if you embrace being a part of humanity
of the collective purpose that is built
into us as a species
and if you want to embrace humanity but
you just can't do it that something
inside of you is preventing you
do not be afraid of seeking professional
there is not a damn thing wrong with
it's no different than the archetypal
from thousands of years ago accepting
the wisdom and experience of the wise
old man figure
in literature
what we see in this beautiful poem by
vong is the yearning to carve out
something sacred for the self within the
and how so many worldly things prevent
us from doing so how we require
motivation and serious dialogue with the
self to move forward in life
we also see that yearning to be a part
of a group
but what the poet does that is so
brilliant is to highlight the need to
retain the self to retain one's agency
when we bring all these ideas to our
neutral ground
we come away with a complex vision
of sacred space in neo modernism
on one hand sacred space allows us to
genuinely reflect on our lives on who we
want to be
it is absolutely necessary for personal
growth and for reassurance in our
personal narrative
on the other hand
it creates an intense need to defend our
and human beings are very strategic when
it comes to defense we will create
strategic alliances with others in order
to defend our sacred spaces
and at times these alliances
can lead us
to a path of our own destruction
we must
be careful about this
that pretty much closes out this
mini-series on the three most important
traits of neo-modernism
here's what i hope you do with this
take all three traits
the need for narrative reassurance
the need to transcend the body
and the need for sacred space
and just think on them for a bit
let them just sit in your mind
resist the urge to react resist the urge
to either wholly accept
or wholly dismiss them
instead bring them out
into the world
and see how these ideas manifest
themselves both intrinsically from
within you
and extrinsically from outside of
yourself but just as
a passive observer at first
just see them in the world
and i also challenge you to do the
the next time
you open up a youtube video or twitter
or anything that involves human
interaction the next time you read hear
or experience
something that you perceive
to be a negative interaction with
someone else
i want you to stop
from reacting to it
and instead ask yourself if the other
is speaking to one of the three main
that we just talked about over the
course of these last three episodes
it's likely that you can pinpoint
the person looking for narrative
reassurance trying to transcend the body
or looking to defend their personal
sacred space
now once you've identified what you
think it is
or maybe it's a combination
i want you to just
try something different
try to engage them
on the level
of that particular
neo-modern trait
ask them questions
trying to
change their mind but ask them questions
about how they're feeling
let them talk
about that trait
and really listen to what they have to
when it's over try to encourage them as
best as you can
i promise you that the more you practice
the more you will find that people are
in a desperate place
for genuine human connectivity
and they don't want to be in an
antagonistic place
now i'm not saying you're going to
i'm not even saying it's going to go
but make no mistake you will have
at the very least tried
to have done something
and in the name of good
and you know i'm going to give you one
more challenge here
the next time you have a moment to
yourself of some kind of silence
try to develop your list
of what a good person
does or is
or or says
don't use your personal traits to guide
use the collective wisdom that we've
accumulated through thousands of years
of humanity
then choose one trait
from your list that you believe you can
do a better job with
and go out
and find a time and place
where you can practice
being better at that trait
and just do it
it might feel awkward at first
but you will get used to it
and it will become a part of your daily
way of life
so that you won't even have to think
about it anymore
because that's ultimately what we're
trying to do
is create
a better way of being
not just for ourselves
but for others
now i'm going to make a quick pitch here
if you enjoyed this series and the
podcast so far please support my
endeavor to create
a community of thinkers who are not
interested in the divisiveness of the
extreme voices i'm genuinely looking to
grow this into something special
and really need your help
please go to my website at
and read the section that talks about
how to support the podcast
if you can even do just one of those
items listed
i will be truly grateful
until next time
try to keep one foot
firmly planted on the neutral ground and
have a great day