KAINERASTY. 

[ cas\e – stud\y ]

Words & Cover Artwork:

Lily McFly

KAIN·ERASTY (from kainos – Ancient Greek for new, erastes – Ancient Greek for loving, admiration) – a drive for newness, which exists in the root of any other “basic drive” (like libido and will to power) and is wired deep into the brain of all human beings. The concept of kainerasty is created by Alexander Sosland in 2002. He claims that the aspiration to change the objects of desire, activities, and impressions belongs to all spheres of life. No matter what we do, we need an aspect of novelty.

Intellect & Novelty

Child psychologist Lidia Bozhovich (who was the student of Lev Vygotsky) pointed out that in our earliest years we need new impressions for the development of the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex – the layer of grey matter on the outside of the brain – is the location of our most advanced cognitive functions, including memory, attention, motivation, and goal-directed behavior. 

 

The development of the cortex is closely correlated with a child’s cognitive stimulation. This means that in the earliest years of our lives we need a huge amount of new information to stimulate our brain functions, therefore to develop it. Another study called “Early childhood home environment predicts frontal and temporal cortical thickness in the young adult brain” found that the more mental stimulation a participant had had at the age of four, the more developed was their cortex.

 

The most strongly affected region was the lateral left temporal cortex, which is on the surface of the brain, behind the ear. This region is involved in semantic memory, processing word meanings and general knowledge about the world,” researcher Martha Farah says.

 

But once a biological need, the need for new information becomes an intellectual demand. Human beings are dependent on all kinds of news. We’re getting easily addicted to the sources that offer us novelty because we enjoy continual chasing after excitement of learning something new. And the quantity of information is obviously more important here than its quality.

The more new information a child gets around the age of four, the more developed the parts of their brains dedicated to language and cognition will be in the decades ahead.

“The Kainerastic Orgasm”

The 20th century is the era when the ways of receiving new information become a form of entertainment. The rapid development of mediacreates a novelty-addicted culture with an army of “chronological snobs” – the ones who prefer the ideas and things, exclusively because they are new and modern. Fashion becomes a tool. Commercials floods in. Newness sells. It becomes the main reason people consume – materially and intellectually. And in the end of the century we get the magical source of experiencing the “the kainerastic orgasm” – the Internet. 

 

Everyday we scroll through our feeds on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, and Spotify maniacally trying to get as much new information as we can. We are glued to our screens, naïvely embracing new ideas without first viewing them with a critical eye. Why? Are the news about others so exciting and important that we need to check our phones every five minutes? Well, according to Alexander Sosland, kainerasty – our addiction to newness – plays its role in the process of repression. Having an easy access to all the diversity of life making many traumatic feelings far less unbearable. Constant pursuit of the newness puts aside traumatic feelings.

Constant pursuit of new impressions puts aside traumatic feelings.

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