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The Now Age

Jan 9, 2010

I was a teenager in the late 1960s / early 1970s and part of a counterculture family. We actively protested against the Vietnam war, provided a crash pad for activists of all kinds and embraced the most open and exotic ideas possible at that time. We listened to folk music, read the underground newspapers and often thought of ourselves as hippies. My parents were so liberal that I was even allowed to spend the entire summer of 1970 by myself with a band down in Austin playing R&B in biker bars. I was 15 years old.

Yet, while I was raised with the Age of Aquarius at the top of the charts and my stepfather (‘Gray Eagle’) as the designated photographer for the Rainbow Tribe, I never considered myself a ‘New Ager.’ Why? Because the term didn’t exist back then. Instead, we were called ‘hippies’ or ‘radicals.’

Today, we use the ‘New Age’ label to refer to alternative thinkers, idealists or simply anyone who has an unorthodox worldview. On the last aisle of your local bookstore, it is the New Age section where you will find information about the occult, secret societies, psychic phenomena, psychedelics, astrology, UFOs, conspiracies and 2012. Since my books on harmonic science tend to intersect many of these topics, this is where they would be found too, if I were to sell them through bookstores.

So, in spite of the fact that I am academically trained in science and spent 25 years as a software developer and businessman — speaking to people about market trends, new technologies and ‘the next great thing’ — I am now categorized as a New Age writer and speaker. Who exactly decided this?

Maybe this is not the place to say it, but I don’t much like this label. Not because I don’t write about the coming change and hope for the spiritual advancement of the planet – I do – but, because this label carries with it a whole lot of baggage and is culturally divisive. The people I would like to persuade with my writings are the very same people who avoid New Age materials at all cost and would never consider venturing back to the New Age aisle. As things stand now, us ‘New Agers’ are kept separate, allowed only to preach to the converted.

We might rightly ask how change can ever come when labels like this persist in creating barriers to free thought. Truth is, the New Age label is a form of thought profiling, a way to segregate out unconventional ideas from the majority population. And while this makes it easier for the New Age minority to find alternative books (and book sellers to sell to them), it also makes it less likely we will browse and select great books in a conventional category. Barriers are not one-sided.

Perhaps the first thing to change in the New Age is to stop using the New Age label. If the leading media retailers and publishers received enough complaints about this, maybe they would dissolve the New Age category and reintegrate each of the currently segregated subjects back into the established categories. In doing so, more people might be exposed to progressive ideas without feeling like they have to join the New Age club. The label persists only because everyone is complicit with it.

If we all really think that 2012 could be the beginning of a new cycle, is 2010 too early to reintroduce the ideas and ideals of the past 50 years back into the mainstream culture? Is it too soon for people to stumble across books about psychics and psychedelics in the psychology section or sacred geometry in the religion section or (wonder of wonders) harmonic science in the science section?

Next time you visit your local bookstore, why not take a moment to move a few of the New Age books back into the sections where they belong? Who could it hurt? More to the point, who could it help?

Richard Merrick

Richard Merrick was the founder and CEO of Postfuture, a pioneering rich-media communications provider for companies like Best Buy and Microsoft. Under his leadership, the company grew from a tiny start-up in 1999 into the top digital communications company of 2004 and 4th fastest growing technology company in Texas. Prior to this, he was the technology founder and elected CEO of 7th Level, a global CD-ROM game publisher and Internet technology company known for such award-winning titles as TuneLand Starring Howie Mandel and Monty Python's The Quest for the Holy Grail. Merrick's work spans many areas of digital media, including search engines, graphics operating systems, multi-media authoring applications, interactive games, voice-response Web agents and dynamically personalized Internet communications. Throughout his career he has been invited to speak around the world on the future of digital media and cited as an expert in leading publications. He is an improvisational pianist & composer, archetypal artist and independent researcher into the physics, history and social ramifications of harmonic science. He received his B.A. (magna cum laude) and M.S.C.S. degrees from the University of Texas at Dallas.

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