“The only thing forbidden in our culture of exposure is the inclination to forbid — to set limits on disclosure.”
Article — For Shame
Some observations consonant with Lasch,
1.) Every culture defines itself by its taboos. By establishing taboos a culture locates the holy by designating the blasphemous. Those who violate the taboos may exist within a culture but they cannot participate in the culture. The taboo in our culture of multiculturalism and pluralism is anything that restricts, isolates or forbids. In short it is taboos that are taboo.
Here is a quick example of this. Fifty years ago if a high schooler was pregnant out of wedlock the expectation is that she would drop out of high school, be disciplined by her church, be a negative example in her extended family, and be the gossip of the town. Today if a high schooler is pregnant out of wedlock anybody who would behave with the behavior of fifty years ago would be met with the same response by the larger community as the out of wedlock high schooler received fifty years ago. The taboo has switched. Fifty years ago the taboo was towards a set behavior. Today the taboo is toward any taboo.
2.) If you extend Lasch’s observation about ‘exposure’ to the general culture one might argue that this is a consequence of the confessional booth going into abeyance in the Church and the Church where the confessional booth is present going into abeyance in the culture. One could reason that there is something inherent in human nature that desires to make its seamy side known to somebody, or similarly one might argue that there is something about every culture that requires ‘exposure.’ Catholic culture has the confessional booth. Communist culture had forced confession of sins against the revolution. When that exposure isn’t weaved into the culture in a sensible way it comes out in Maury Povich and Oprah Winfrey talk shows.
3.) Such exposure creates a weird sense of ‘community,’ but this sense of community is reflective not of the friendship that normally denominated concrete and traditional communities but rather it is a abstract community of strangers where all that links this community of strangers together is their dysfunction and their exposure.
4.) Ever since the fall man has had the tendency to hide himself from God because man was ashamed of his sin. I believe what we are seeing in this culture of exposure is that man, both those who are doing the exposing and those who are titillated by the exposure, have lost the sense of being ashamed of sin, and so have lost the fear of God.
5.) Traditionally exposure through confession was a means of self-denial but in a culture of exposure, exposure by confession is a means of self-inflation. The cameras are rolling or the small group who has gathered for mutual affirmation are sympathetically looking on and the conditions are right for self to be inflated. In a culture of exposure people begin to wish that they had something aberrant that they could confess before the world.