June 03, 2008

Boomeritis & Me

J.W. Waterhouse

As a woman who's pretty good at deconstruction and even better at reconstruction, I found an interesting book review by Elizabeth Debold, titled Boomeritis & Me. She's writing in reference to Ken Wilber's book, Boomeritis (Shambhala Publications, 2002).

Debold writes: "...So, what is boomeritis? First of all, it isn't just something for those of us born during the boomer years, 1946-1964. According to Wilber, "Boomeritis is simply pluralism infected with narcissism." 

Sounds relatively harmless.

Pluralism, simply defined, is our current social reality, where diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups mix within one culture. However, Wilber is referring to something more specific—the intellectual capacity that emerges from that social reality: the ability to appreciate differences, to understand the ways that diverse cultures construct reality, and to fashion an identity, or self, that goes beyond one's family and culture of origin. Boomers do happen to have a particular and, of course, unique historical role in this development.
As he writes, "The Boomers, to their great credit, were the first major generation in history to develop [this capacity]. That's a very important point...The Boomers moved beyond the [previous cultural stages of] traditionalism and...scientific modernism...and pioneered a postmodern, pluralistic, multicultural understanding...And that is exactly why the Boomers spearheaded civil rights, ecological concerns, feminism, and multicultural diversity. That is the 'high' part of the mixture, the truly impressive part of the Boomer generation and the explosive revolutions of the sixties..." These revolutions, as partial as they have been, changed forever our sense of human possibility and refashioned the contours of human identity.
And the low part? The narcissism, naturally. Wilber is certainly not the only one who has noticed—how could one not?!—that the boomer generation, which unself-consciously and even proudly wears the appellation "the Me generation," is more than a bit stuck on itself—and has left something sticky on the generations that have followed. Christopher Lasch's The Culture of Narcissism and Robert Bellah and colleagues' Habits of the Heart have beautifully and poignantly documented how self-involved and isolated we are. Concerned critics have despaired at how this inflated self-involvement has ripped the social fabric and, grasping to bring order to the chaos created by this unparalleled selfishness, they have often, futilely, called for a return to traditional values. Yet these problems can never be solved by looking backward.

The world is changing at warp speed. There is no way back nor is there a "back" to go to. Wilber does what no other critic of the cultural scene has done: he not only elaborates in agonizing detail the corrosive effects of "that strange mixture of very high cognitive capacity...infected with rather low emotional narcissism," but he places it within an evolutionary context and, in so doing, points to a possibility for humanity beyond boomeritis. The solution to boomer narcissism cannot come from looking to the past but only in realizing the demand of the future. Wilber confronts us with how critical the present moment actually is—because beyond the social fragmentation aggravated by boomer self-absorption is the potential for a more holistic, integral future..."

Click on this link in order to read the article on the website:
 What Is Enlightenment? And have faith in yourself. We can put everything back together even better than it was before. Or is that my narcissism speaking for me? ha!



Wilber, Ken. Boomeritis: A Novel that will set you Free http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomeritis


  1. CZ, brilliant post.

    Brilliant series of posts. I've been reading and going WOOT! WOOT! and just about the time I get enough coherence to post something more literate than that you go and do it again.

    I haven't read the book you're discussing here... so I'll ask. Does she tie the narcissism in to the prevalent childrearing philosophies of the time? Because, as I recall, we Boomers certainly were a generation of predominantly spoiled brats... and heaven save us, we were mostly spoiled on purpose. With planning and forethought.

    Not surprising we'd turn out as we have, all things considered.

    Just askin'...



  2. Hi Storm! I added a direct link to the Wikipedia page on Ken Wilber and another link to his book, "Boomeritis."

    The woman writing the review said so many things that resonated with me, that even if her article is L-O-N-G, it's worth reading.

    Here's another great quote excerpted from her article:

    "Reducing Truth to our own personal, subjective experience made pluralism, as Wilber says, "a supermagnet for narcissism." This is the spiritual dilemma of boomeritis: we've allowed our creative minds to rob the Divine of Truth and put our subjective experience in its place. The loophole has turned out to be a noose."

    I believe the topic of narcissism is much, much bigger than a clinical definition. This article opens up the topic for a broader understanding of Social narcissism. And no, it ain't just those Generation X'ers. ha!

    I'd like to give some thought to your comment and maybe post about it. There were distinctly different parenting styles from my mother's generation to my own. That's a GREAT topic! Thanks for bringing it up!

    Boomer Hugs,

  3. AAAAAAAAH, Narcissistc culture.

    The human race is suffocating while held in a dream of self; intoxicated. Drunk from wood alcohol.
    Can they come out of the stupor before water is rationed and sold?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...