New Year, new blog series on… Newness.
Actually, I’ve been meaning to write something for some time around the book ‘The Neophiliacs – Revolution in English Life in the Fifties and Sixties’ that Christopher Booker (the first editor of Private Eye) wrote back in the late 60’s.
The Amazon synopsis for ‘The Neophiliacs’ is rather good:
“Around the mid-1950s, on a wave of technological advances, Western civilisation moved into a period of prosperity dwarfing anything that had ever gone before. How golden was this age of affluence? How did it come to spawn a legend? The Fifties and Sixties are said to have witnessed sexual, artistic and scientific revolutions, the explosion of youth culture, the creation of a classless society. The New Aristocrats were pop singers, clothes designers, actors and actresses, film-makers, photographers, artists, writers, models and restaurateurs. Christopher Booker disentangles fantasy and reality, the ephemeral from the enduring. He charts the rise and fall of a collective dream.”
The book is therefore a critical biopsy of a revolution, and in his analysis Booker identifies archetypal features of any revolution. I read the book baking in the Tuscany sun a couple of summers ago, just after The Complex Christ had come out, and was immediately struck by the huge relevance his analysis had for us in the Emerging Church.
Are we just ‘Neophiliacs’ – in love with newness? Is the change we are hoping to undertake simply nothing more than another ecclesiastic ‘fantasy cycle’? Are we just destined to become a new form of cultural aristocracy, having trashed the established one? Are we involved in something more than a collective dream?
Having picked the book up because of it’s excellent cover, and this period in history being of major interest to me, I thought I was going to simply enjoy a bit of social history. I was therefore totally floored to turn the pages towards the end of the book to be hit with an searingly insightful analysis of Christ’s temptations in the desert, and their relevance for us as we attempt to effect real change, rather than lust after newness in a fantasy that will leave us empty…. But all that’s to come.
I’ll be posting some further thoughts on it over the next week or so.
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