Possibly part of the (eventual) conclusion to the series God: From Magic to Motivation
An article on the site Genealogy of Religion entitled The Magic of Religion got me thinking about the future. It also got me thinking about music, fiction, what is and what should be.
Deadmau5 (Dead-mouse) is a DJ from the Niagara Falls area. While hanging out on some internet forums, he told a story about finding a dead mouse in his computer tower. He got to be known as ‘that dead mouse guy’. He then adopted the handle for himself (and modified the spelling).
While doing some work on 3D computer graphics, he built a mouse-head helmet. He tried out the helmet as part of his DJ show and people seemed to love it. They danced more and the parties got bigger and better. The light shows got bigger, and the concerts got bigger. The helmet itself now has LED lights. Words and images scroll over the helmet making the show all the more fantastic or “unreal”.
He’s constructed a loose story around the Deadmau5 thing. A character based on his cat, Meowingtons, has overpowered Deadmau5, hacked his beats and stolen the mouse mask. It’s all a fiction, creating a place of wonder, fun and excitement. And people dance to it.
Deadmau5 is kind of a scrawny, wiry guy. I’ve heard he’s addicted to Coca-Cola. When he comes on stage he waves to the audience and holds up the mouse mask to great rolls of cheers. When he lowers the mask on his head, the music starts and the magic begins. People bounce and smile and dance for hours. At the end of the night, the helmet comes off. People leave the concert feeling exhausted, exhilarated, and feeling part of something beyond the ordinary reality of life.
How can religion can play such an important role in our history and our personal lives if based on fiction? It’s been suggested:
Groups that dance and chant together seems to have some kind of fitness not found in groups that don’t dance and chant together.
Religions are in the business of reality management – motivating people to behave in effective (or at least predictable) ways, regardless of the accuracy in their portrayal of reality. Religions, like fiction, are in the business of making up what should be.
Interestingly enough, two of the world’s oldest cultures have changed a lot recently and now seem poised to dominate the world’s next century. Both have given the world physical disciplines. For example, Tai Chi comes from China. Yoga comes from India. Both of these physical disciplines can be done in groups or individually.
The future of religion might look a lot like the past. The groups that dance and chant together, that consciously participate in what might be fiction, in order to effectively transform what is into what should be, they will have a fitness that outperforms groups stuck on insisting their story is correct reality.
Maybe if the west had a more physical discipline instead of a more metaphysical pursuit, it would have a different fitness for today’s challenges.
Before I started this series of posts, I was thinking of doing a series on quirky new religions based on fictions – Disney-ism, Jedi-ism, Dude-ism, Matrix-ism. I think I want to get back to that. They might be more influential on our future than we can now imagine. And they might have just as much influence as the secular habit of going to the gym to work out alone.
The knowledge that Deadmau5 is just a guy, and not some computerized mouse, doesn’t wreck the fun or the enchantment. People will play along if he keeps them dancing, and as long as he continues doing innovative stuff. In terms of checks and balances, I’d imagine it’s just as important that Deadmau5 doesn’t take himself too seriously either. At the end of the night, after all, he does take off the helmet and reveal that he’s just a guy.
This says little about morality, I guess. But it says something about aesthetics, and what we can be motivated by.
What do you think?