Category: Utopica

Și postmodernii cred în rai!

Toți construim castele în aer. Problemele vin atunci când vrem să locuim în ele. 

Istoria imaginilor folosite în publicitate e o veritabilă sursă pentru un istoric al ideilor. Las la latitudinea cititorului analiza evoluției simbolisticii și a mesajului publicitar din următoarele două imagini.

De la




pentru că

Însă mi se pare foarte interesantă transformarea conceptului de rai/transcendent: de la o simbolistică spirituală, a unei purități aproape transmundane, ajungem la puritatea fancy a umanului ce se reinventează pe sine, care se modelează, proiectează, se auto-susține. Transcendentul ontologic, vertical, e transformat acum în așa zis-ul transcendent orizontal, social, al alterității (săracul Levinas, dacă ar ști cât de răstălmăcite îi sunt cuvintele!). Toți sunt implicați, sunt fericiți, nu mai este nicio animozitate și răutate între oameni, oamenii nu trăiesc ca să muncească ci doar ca să se distreze, ce mai, veselie ca în rai!

Kitsch-ul intelectual al postmodernismului nu face decât să altereze, să modifice paradigme vechi, mai ales suvenirurile religioase; să răstoarne canoane ca să instaureze uniformitatea miștoului superior, glazurat cu pretenții de modestie și autenticitate.

Să fie narcisismul adevăratul opiu pentru popor al timpurilor noastre?  Pentru  că a man’s got to be in his own heaven to be happy (Mark Twain), să nu ne mirăm că nu mai e prea mare diferență între foarte multe biserici occidentale și mainstream-ul cultural vizibil azi pe toate ecranele.

De fapt, la ce sens să mai aștepți escatonul când raiul e aici și acum, servit cu atâta amabilitate de comercianți/predicatori/vindecători, etc.?

”Is Heaven about God, or is Heaven about me?”, iată o întrebare cu răspunsuri diferite pentru epoci culturale diferite!

During the new millennium, several major interrelated cultural trends helped shape American views of heaven and salvation. Especially significant were increased anxiety, the impact of the therapeutic worldview (which exalted self-fulfillment and personal happiness), the emergence of an entertainment culture (which stressed pleasure and amusement), concerns about the breakdown of the family and the impoverishment of personal relationships, and the growing acceptance of a postmodern, relativistic perspective of life. Influenced by these trends, many Americans in the years after 2000 portrayed paradise as a place of comfort, self-actualization, bliss, enriching entertainment, and robust fellowship. Most Americans publicly stated or implied that almost everyone, except the extremely wicked, would go to heaven. (Gary Scott Smith, Heaven in the American Imagination, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 204)

Poate că în acest delir al beautificării personale, al gratificării cu un rai accesibil, ne vom trezi, la un moment dat, că trăim un iad din care nu mai putem evada pentru că “the one principle of Hell is: I am my own.” (George MacDonald).

A World of Plastic Promises?

The implicit religion of hyperconsumerism contains many of the echoes of Christian faith. Malls and movie theaters resemble churches. Celebrities resemble saints. Shopping becomes a sacrament, and gossip magazines become scripture. Even conversion takes on a new form in the hyperconsumer world. In the hyperreal world, we believe that by changing our surfaces we are undergoing conversion. (Mark Sayers,  The Trouble With Paris: Following Jesus in a World of Plastic Promises, Thomas Nelson, 2008, p. 33)

(…) Many today fear such commitment-based social institutions because self now takes precedence over commitment. As the worldview of hyperconsumerism has taken hold of our imaginations, everything has become shopping. We must not become entangled in commitments, because they could limit our options on finding something better. This constant search for something better means that the supershoppers of hyperconsumerism are still waiting for a better deal after the mall has closed and then are forced to return home empty-handed. Or we find ourselves always on the move, searching for a home that shifts and shimmies over the horizon. We keep up this restlessness as our fears of not being stimulated take over. The key to life, we are told, is to keep holding out for that perfect bargain. But the less we commit, the more we become passive. We never make a move; instead, we simply stand and watch life go by. Our fear of commitment has turned us into passive consumers. We have become voyeurs, watching other people have a life. Pornography shows us other people having sex; gossip magazines show us the emotional lives of celebrities; nature documentaries show us the natural world while we sit in our artificial lounge rooms; reality TV shows us the lives of ordinary people; lifestyle programs show us others doing domestic work; sports teams show us others playing; chat shows show us others conversing. We have stopped having “real” lives; instead, we live hyperreal zombielike lives, remaining uncommitted and out of touch with the art of actual living.

Our commitment phobia is limiting our ability to truly enjoy life. How then are we to find a way out of hyperreality? How are we to find a way in which to live as a culture that is not trapped by the promises of hyperreal culture? Quite simply, consumerism has invaded every part of our consciousness. If we are to reclaim our freedom, we cannot simply buy our way out of the hyperconsumerist world. If we are to avoid the alluring yet imprisoning temptations of the hyperreal condition, we must effect a different kind of revolution-a revolution that begins with the human heart. But before we can effect a revolution, we must leave the world of hyperreality and make a stop off at the world of reality. (ibidem, pp. 51-52)

The Trouble with Paris

Why More is Less


Psychology of Excellence

Everywhere in the modern world, it seems, more younger adults than older adults report having ever been disabled by this new great (emotional) depression . . . Young people today have grown up with much more affluence, slightly less overall happiness, and much greater risk of depression, not to mention triple suicide . . . Never has a culture experienced such physical comfort combined with such psychological misery. (David Myers, The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty, New Haven, CT Yale University Press, 2000, 138, emphasis added)

Worlds Away





Futurist polyexpressive theatre will be a superpowerful centre of abstract forces in play. Each spectacle will be a mechanical rite of the eternal transcendence of matter, a magical revelation of spiritual and scientific mystery. A panoramic synthesis of action, understood as a mystical rite of spiritual dynamism. A centre of spiritual abstraction for the new religion of the future. (Enrico Prampolini, The Futurist Stage (Manifesto), in Umbro Apollonio, Futurist Manifestos , New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 201).

The New Republic of Letters

We shape our tools, and there after they shape us. (John M. Culkin)

I’ve read The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011) and I remembered Plato. In Phaedrus’s dialogue (sect. 274-275), Plato presents a story about the invention of letters by Thoth. This new skill is a gift, a “pharmakon” (in ancient Greek “pharmakon” have two opposite meanings, depending of proportion/usage: “medicament”, but also “poison”). The external memory/writing

[…] it “will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.”

Nicholas Carr talks a lot about how using Internet can affect our cognitive skills, some of them being boosted, while others are atrophied. It is not about technophilia or technophobia. We must accept that in any gift we receive, there is something we lose.

When we extend some part of ourselves artificially, we also distance ourselves from the amplified part and its natural functions. (p. 211)

“I can’t read War and Peace anymore, I’ve lost the ability to do that. Even a blog post of more than three or four paragraphs is too much to absorb. I skim it.” (page 8)

As McLuhan suggested, media aren’t just channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it. (page 7)

Progressive educators banished the practice [of memorization] from classrooms, dismissing it as a vestige of a less enlightened time. What had long been viewed as stimulus for personal insight and creativity came to be seen as a barrier to imagination and then simply as a waste of mental energy. (page 180)

The influx of competing messages that we receive whenever we go online not only overloads our working memory; it makes it much harder for our frontal lobes to concentrate our attention on any one thing. The process of memory consolidation can’t even get started. And, thanks once again to the plasticity of our neuronal pathways, the more we use the Web, the more we train our brain to be distracted – to process information very quickly and very efficiently but without sustained attention. That helps explain why many of us find it hard to concentrate even we’re away from our computers. (p. 194)

The computerized grading system would “read and assess” the essays that British students write as part of a widely used test of language proficiency. A spokesman for Edexcel, which is a subsidiary of the media conglomerate Pearson, explained that the system “produced the accuracy of human markers while eliminating human elements such as tiredness and subjectivity,” according to a report in the Times Education Supplement. A testing expert told the appear that the computerized evaluation of essays would be a mainstay of education in the future: “The uncertainty is ‘when’ not ‘if’.” How, I wondered, would the Edexcel software discern those rare students who break from the conventions of writing not because they’re incompetent but because they have a special spark of brilliance? I knew the answer: it wouldn’t  Computers, as Joseph Weizenbaum pointed out, follow rules: they don’t make judgments. In place of subjectivity, they give us formula. The story revealed just how prescient Weizenbaum had been when, decades ago, he warned that as we grow more accustomed to and dependent on our computers we will be tempted to entrust to them “tasks that demand wisdom.” And once we do that, there will be no turning back. The software will become indispensable to those tasks. (p. 223-224)



Here comes the other opinion:

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