The French have a phrase for the set of shared beliefs, ideas and moral attitudes that operates as a unifying force within society. The term was initially introduced by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his Division of Labour in Society in 1893.
They say it like this: conscience collective (imagine saying it with a French accent).
It is difficult to debate.
What we do not know is so much more interesting that whatever it is we think we do. 1000 years from now, or even 100, most of what we spend our resources proselytizing will likely be laughable. We may very well be the barbarians of our age.
Still, we keep trying. The interesting thing is how discoveries seem to come in droves.
This idea of collective consciousness is interesting to meditate on because suddenly, out of the blue, things happen. Songs are written, innovations are made, similar ideas proclaimed all around the world simultaneously, that resonate a common feeling or notion or sudden awareness, need, or desire. There is no empirical formula for it or words to describe it.
When an artist hits a nerve, for example, we might pay close attention on personal, professional, emotional, and physical levels – levels even that we do not currently acknowledge or know of. We can know what we know. We can know what we don’t know. We can also not know what we don’t know. I digress.
These movements must happen for no uncertain reasons, influenced by some inertia, a motion of thought or experience or longing? The unseen has properties. Even more interesting is how these collective notions, or trends, are noticeable to only a very few, in turn inspiring innovation across contexts, industries, and cultures.
With the uprooting of business culture, the seemingly overnight arrival and continuing emergence of technology into our lives that has rendered many illiterate, including markets and cultures shifting in HUGE ways, the rising of underdogs and rallying of Dark Horses around the globe, it may be no surprise that certain songs, paintings, films, literature, spawned in a certain way, are all birthed from a collective feeling, a united yawp.
In the end, an interesting question might be: has art always foreshadowed the future in some esoteric language?