Finding out what really happened is virtually impossible. Everyone, even Marcus Aurelius1, says “Perception is reality.” We have various news channels, different “brands of reality” if you will, for different interpretations of events. That would be fine if we could only agree on which events actually occurred.
The metamodern condition is immersion in One Continuous Media where you are tumbled by streams of competing consciousnesses. News, games, videos, sports, packaged foods, financial reports, and even your pseudo-friends on Facebook constantly flood you with opposing sales messages and assumptions about the world.
Authority is forever trying to establish itself everywhere, which effectively puts it is nowhere. The best it can do is attempt to establish authority on a moral higher ground. But morality does not compel a generation whose consciousness has been steeped from the beginning in paradox, shape-shifting personages and constant revision. In nearly every case, the establishment of this authority and thought leadership (italics for irony) is apparently only in order to shill recycled goods. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that everyone is selling something.
The absence of objective truth fills people with terror and vertigo, so any sort of authority is welcome. Facing a highly produced, centralized discourse, we are left with only our private thoughts and localized power structures, fragmented to the nth degree. These will not be enough to face the coming challenges and to energize a weltanshauung that can move us forward. We need understanding at a fundamental, visceral level, which is the function of a scholar.
Everlasting curiosity is the identifying feature of a scholar. To penetrate as deeply into mysteries as imagination will allow and then to continue to wonder about what lies beyond. Just as a true artist never finishes a work of art, only abandons it, a scholar is never satisfied with their understanding or content that they have reached a final truth. History is merely one of the tools that a scholar must wield and by no means is it the most reliable.
The scholar can no longer remain locked in an ivory tower, if that has ever been helpful. That person is the specialist. The metamodern scholar experiments on understanding in the laboratory of lived experience.
1– “If you are pained by anything external, it is not the thing that pains you but your judgement about it. It is within your power to wipe out that judgement right now. If your own disposition pains you, what restrains you from correcting that?” – Meditations, Book 8, line 45