The coinage subscendence is modeled after the standing term transcendence and is intended to be the antonym of transcendence. The verbal form would be to subscend; the adjectival form would be subscendent. The High Middle Ages – expressing themselves in Gothic architecture, in polyphony, and in spiritually heroic narratives such as the Grail sagas and the Divine Comedy – properly deserve to be called transcendent. The current phase of Modernity – expressing itself in the cinder-block architecture of the strip mall, in amplified beat-based “pop” tunes, and in crude cinematic narratives of sex and violence – properly deserves to be called subscendent.
Let us call the subject of subscendence The Culminant Man. He is a being without historical awareness and is uninformed by anything resembling a tradition. He is dependent on external guidance in everything; he borrows his opinions, which he regards as his own, from the currently circulating small set of permitted slogans attached to the carefully vetted “issues” of the moment. He lives vicariously through electronic media.
I invite Orthosphereans to furnish specific examples of subscendence that occur to them; and to help me in building up, if that were the word, the outward picture, and perhaps even the phenomenology, of The Culminant Man.
I would give the (very casual) example of contemporary dress. I have noticed for some while that, not only college males, but also chronologically adult males, increasingly dress themselves like overgrown babies. The ubiquitous “cargo shorts” and unwashed T-shirts lend an infantile appearance, which is often bolstered by degrees of flabbiness and obesity. Add the cell phone, in attending which all people, male and female, now spend their lives, and the picture is complete. On the theory that everything means something, this “look” would mean the subject’s insouciant rejection of the adult world and his intention, perhaps but dimly formed, to remain in his giant-toddler state indefinitely.
I would also give the (very casual) example of contemporary diction. The grammatically deformed cell-phone question, “Dude, where are you at,” constructed as though the verb were insufficient, and invariably spoken with emphasis on the concluding unmotivated preposition, is a vocalization of subscendence.