Category: Utopica

Ipocriziile ignoranței docte (genocidul etic)

(continuare a articolului Ipocriziile ignoranţei docte (M. Foucault))

Pe coasta de vest a Americii trăiesc a ”bunch of liberals”, copiii generației hippie de prin ’60-’70, postmoderni fițoși, activiști ai drepturilor minorităților de orice fel și culoare (cam la fel de violenți ca talibanii retrograzi de prin alte colțuri ale lumii), ”tree huggers” emoționați la zumzetul unui gândăcel sau la privirea nefericită a unui cățel care retrogradează într-o ligă mult inferioară simțămintele umane cele mai simple, feministe demne de studii clinice, etc.. Oriunde ai fi și orice ai face, trebuie să fii atent cu noua Securitate care îți pândește orice mișcare, gest, vorbă. Vorbesc despre ”bunii” cetățeni care sunt gata să depună plângere pentru orice cută a perfecțiunii morale, cută sau zonă ilicită pe care o observă la tine ca fiind neconformă cu ”libertatea” gândirii oficiale. Dacă se înjură de Hristos prin toate locurile publice și prin toate mediile de comunicare, nimeni nu este ofensat. Dacă însă porți o cruciuliță la gât și cineva face plângere că îi este ofensată necredința sa în Hristos, imediat ești dat afară din școală pe motiv că ești un pericol pentru libertatea altora de expresie. Logica și-a trăit vremurile ei bune acum ceva vreme în urmă. Acum trăiască cuantificarea și uniformizarea!

Venind dintr-un spațiu ex-comunist, cu un PR nu prea seducător al corectitudinii politice, văd acum destul de clar ne-diferențierea pe care o aduce imensa presiune socială a spălării creierilor cu detergentul corectitudinii politice. S-a înlocuit coerciția brută cu persuasiunea colorată, dar rezultatul e același: sclavia față de sistem! Culorile și zâmbetele fotogenice ale clonelor bucuroase de sub curcubeul aburilor de marihuana ascund ustensilele și secrețiile de tot felul cu care aceste clone își defulează toate problemele și nevrozele în ”libertatea sexuală” nelimitată. Mă sperie lipsa de discernământ, vocația turmei și inaniția spirituală a multor prizioneri în ”paradis”.

Pe măsură ce intru tot mai mult în măruntaiele sistemului educațional din America de Nord îmi dau seama de boemia pe care am avut-o în România, de a gândi și a mă exprima liber, chiar în cadrul unui sistem educațional de stat. Aici însă, culorile și sloganele din flyere ascund realitatea morbidă a controlului statal și corporatist imens, insurportabil. Și, să mă scuze toți cei care fac apologia rolului intelectualului într-o societate democratică, dar  mediul academic este  tocmai sursa de pericol prin faptul că abdică de la rolul său critic pentru o ciorbă de linte sau pentru o promovare lingușitoare, fonduri, granturi, etc. din partea statului și a corporațiilor. Legăturile academicienilor de top de la Harward, U. of Columbia, Stanford, etc. din domeniul juridic și economic cu corporațiile financiare și cu guvernul federal au fost cât se poate de bine expuse în documentarul Inside Job sau în cartea lui Chris Hedges, Empire of Illusion. The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

În acest angrenaj al restaurării virtuții lui Iuda, să nu ne mire că ajungem la concluzii absolunt delirante dacă aplicăm postmodernilor propriile criterii. Ce ar fi dacă am aplica strategia deconspirării suportului ideologic al oricărui discurs, a intențiilor și resorturilor de putere, a forțelor oculte care motivează o idee, un autor, o poziție? De exemplu, să o luăm pe Margaret Mead, cu o puternică influență în promovarea relativismului cultural, a feminismului și a liberalizării sexuale de după cel de al doilea război mondial. Dacă o urmărim apoi în devoalarea permisivităților morale și sexuale ale celor din triburile din Samoa (Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization), atunci mai mai că am crede că valorile morale ale patriarhatului iudeo-creștin sunt doar condiționate cultural, relative deci. Dar când Derek Freeman a studiat aceleași culturi din Samoa (Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth) și a văzut că M. Mead a interpretat total stâlcit practicile lor culturale, ei susținând valorile morale cum ar fi fidelitatea și pedepsirea adulterului, atunci ne dăm seama că merită să privim mai atent la caracterul profeților mincinoși ce își hrănesc viciile din ignoranța altora. Vedem astfel că M. Mead a dat valoare relativismului său cultural nu prin ceea ce a descoperit ea la alții, ci prin ceea ce a ascuns în propria viață: practici adultere cronice, relații homosexuale cu Ruth Benedict, etc. Cam aceeași istorie se repetă cu Alfred Kinsey, dezinhibator al practicilor sexuale în conștiința publică  de prin anii ’60, descoperit a fi de fapt un mic monstru sexual ce știa să beneficieze de ignoranța strălucită a studenților săi, și numai.

Trecând prin biografiile marilor promotori ai relativismului moral, artisitc, filosofic (și acum mi-a rămas în minte dezgustul pe care mi l-a provocat lectura epistolarei dintre J. P. Sarte și Simone de Beauvoir), îmi dau seama de pericolul de a te lăsa înrobit de cei care îți propovăduiesc libertatea. Se cuvine să punem la bănuială tocmai pe maeștrii bănuielii? Semnalul de alarmă tras de Paul Johnson (Intelectuals) sau E. Michael Jones  (Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Misbehavior) este cât se poate de grav dacă ne gândim că genocidul valoric și moral al intelectualilor mândri de ipocrizia lor va suge viitorului orice vigoare și prospețime. Și, când ne gândim că toată sclipirea argumentărilor a multor intelectuali are rolul de a acoperi hăul lor moral și, mai ales, vacuum-ul lor sexual!

There are ultimately only two alternatives in the intellectual life: either one conforms desire to the truth or one conforms truth to desire.  These two positions represent opposite poles between which a continuum of almost infinite gradations exists…Sexual sins are corrupting, [but] the most insidious corruption brought about by sexual sin, however, is the corruption of the mind.  One moves all too easily from sexual sins, which are probably the most common to mankind, to intellectual sins, which are the most pernicious…

Put more generally, the idea can be formulated thus: the intellectual life is a function of the moral life of the thinker.  In order to apprehend truth, which is the goal of the intellectual life, one must live a moral life.  One can produce an intellectual product, but to the extent that one prescinds from living the moral life, that product will be more a function of internal desire—wish fulfillment, if you will—than external reality.  This is true of any intellectual field and any deeply held desire.  In the intellectual life, one either conforms desire to truth or truth to desire.  In the first instance, the importance of biography is negligible; in the second instance, it is all-important…

Lust is a common enough vice, especially in this age.  The crucial intellectual event occurs, however, when vices are transmuted into theories, when the ‘intellectual’ sets up shop in rebellion against the moral law and, therefore, in rebellion against the truth.  All the modern ‘isms’ follow as a direct result of this rebellion.  All of them entail rationalization.  All of them can be best understood in light of the moral disorder of their founders, proponents, and adherents. (E. Michael Jones, Degenerate Moderns: Modernity as Rationalized Sexual Misbehavior, pp. 11-16)

E teribil de plictisitor dar și de periculos să trăiești în acest totalitarism al ignoranței docte! Însă, ca să probeze definiția ignoranței, mulți, foarte mulți sunt fericiți și fac o grămadă de prozeliți, la fel de ignoranți și fericiți ….

Surviving the future?

Becoming a simple mechanism in the fabric of our existence, considering the gospel of progress, part of  our present omnipotent techno-soteriology, and using the predictive simulations of computers (instead God’s holograms or “prophecies”, in biblical terminology), is good to listen, critically, some warnings and promises of utopian futurism:

  • death of nature,
  • supremacy of technology,
  • control of birth,
  • control/up-date of human bodies, etc.

A celebration, a lecture and a warning

At the celebration of 34 years, I heed the words of Shakespeare: I wasted time, and now doth time waste me (“King Richard II” by W. Shakespeare, Act V, Scene V49) or I can listen very carefully the words of  the psalmist: Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. (Ps. 90:12) Let me put this words in the context of our times.

1. An ancient warning

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 opposite meanings, depending of proportion: “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.”[1]

The Plato’s warning was very clear: external memories will take control over man’s mnemonic powers; it will “help” man to become a slave. Undoubtedly, technology is the crisis of humanism; it is a sign of our alienation.

Humanity is nearing a “robotic moment”. We already filter companionship through machines; the next stage […] is to accept machines as companions[2].

2. Krapp as an example of the present human condition

“Krapp’s Last Tape” (1958) is, like “Waiting for Godot” (1949), a philosophical manifest, an excellent model of how postmodern humanity is trying to find itself in an age of alienation.

What seems to be very human (but also his weakness nature: Krapp’s paradoxical oscillation between slow motion and quick rhythm, his impatience when discover some forgotten definition) is covered by his appeal to external memory:

 [Reading from dictionary.] State – or condition – of being – or remaining – a widow – or widower. [Looks up. Puzzled.] Being – or remaining?… [Pause. He peers again at dictionary. Reading.] ‘Deep weeds of viduity.’ … Also of an animal, especially a bird… the vidua or weaver-bird…. Black plumage of male…. [He looks up. With relish.] The vidua-bird![3]

And this alienation is paradoxically exposed by inflation of communication, mediated by machines. Machines are prosthetic organs of memory.

Before Marshall McLuhan there was Krapp: a man whose life is mediated by his own sound recordings. A one-act, one-man dialogue with himself (or his past selves), this play is one of Beckett’s most comic. On his birthday (his last, as the play’s title ominously underlines), the aged Krapp sits with his tape recorder, dictionary, and bananas and listens to his own past as spoken by a younger voice, sometimes with delight, sometimes confusion, irritation, or despair.[4]

Who is Krapp? Krapp is a man at age sixty nine, remembering and evaluating his recordings at thirty nine. Can Krapp be a shadow of Beckett himself? It is very possible. But what does this name mean? “Krapp” is derived from the Dutch words “krappe” and “krappen” and means “to cut off”. If we mention in addition the expression “the last tape”, our mind will think this is the last tape because the death is imminent[5]. In this context, the idea of judgment is expressed by the main character himself:

The grain, now what I wonder do I mean by that, I mean . . . (hesitates) . . . I suppose I mean those things worth having when all the dust has–when all my dust has settled. I close my eyes and try and imagine them.[6]

At the end of his life, Krapp make his own evaluation about how the young Krapp thought and lived his life. The sixty-nine-years-old Krapp is encountering with himself through his tapes. It is a kind of self duplication, an effort to find him through many variations of pleasures and disgusts. We see a fragmented self, a reproduction of self which intersect with shadows of his unconscious. Our hero looks to regain a lost unity, a rehabilitation of the self.

He lives in a complete solitude:

The new light above my table is a great improvement. With all this darkness around me I feel less alone[7].

In the absence of a real interlocutor, Krapp seems to be victim of its own narcissism. He finds himself manifested in his own record voice. And his voice is contemplating about his self, about his selves. It is kind of mirror in a mirror, a self reference, a pluralistic identity, a cluster of selves.

Cartesian identity (body/mind) and even consciousness itself are disseminated into a plurality of personalities. A Romanian performer expressed this idea when addressing to his wife: “My darling, I fell in love with other harem” (Toma Caragiu). The idea of self fragmentation of human subject is the theme of other postmodern novels, “Steppe Wolf” by Herman Hesse being a good example of this.

Technological determinism affects human perception. Krapp projects meanings to machines: he talks to the machine, and, in some way, the machine answers him, rating stories to him. He become as much as possible one with the machine. Through his recordings, Krapp can access his purified memories, mixing memory and desire, trying to revive and smother the past play:

The death of Krapp’s mother and the love episode on the river are presented as if “out of time” and beyond interaction. Encounters are distilled into still points (“moments”); persons are transmuted into presences. The female would-be characters pass through the potential events recorded on the tape as images, “figures,” and eyes.[8]

We live in a “device paradigm”[9], a paradigm which accelerates and enhances social and cultural processes. Like Krapp, we are authors-performers-selectors. We can discover every day, especially on social networks like “Facebook”, a terrifying fear of loneliness, isolation and misunderstanding in an age of communication and socialization; whose antidote, some of us think, is socializing with anyone, anyhow and at any time. But others are not machines, easy to manipulate.

Krapp, in replaying his tape, is both producing his authentic portrait, the Artist as a Young Man, and acting like the common man of the technological age with his pushbutton distraction. […] Yet the tapes are disposable; Krapp as typical do-it-yourself home entertainer holds them cheap, at one point violently throwing all but one tape on the floor to join the accumulated debris of discarded bottles and banana skins. In short, Krapp’s monopoly over the tapes has the symptoms of monomania: the search for essential moments of living from the past — “separating the grain from the husks” — eliminates everything that does not minister to the needs of the self’s present moment. [10]

3. Final remarks or about waiting for abandonment hope

“A late evening in the future”[11]. Krapp’s story is our story, Krapp’s condition is our condition! It is about a story of a man who has been exhausted by his own history, trapped in his body, facing an uncertain future. When regrets for past are too strong, the futures becomes problematic.

Mimesis regrets, epidemic fears (and maybe real failures) are required to be compensating with the gratuity of virtual Cupid or virtual happiness owners. In this respect, virtual communication is endowed with messianic meanings, illusory and harmful. Contemporary actors of virtual communication or gadget’s slaves are like poor Krapp but less than that; their disappointments are either reinvested society with new expectations, but even more frustrating in the end, or they assume the nihilistic appetence. In Krapps words:

Now the day is over, / Night is drawing nigh-igh, / Shadows — of the evening / Steal across the sky.[12]

In “Krapp’s Last Tape” Beckett shows compassion for the miseries of suffering mankind but also abandonment of the hopes of history. Nostalgic memories, impatience and obvious lack of sympathy, multiple personality, narcissism and depression, all of these belongs not only Beckett’s character (Krapp), but also every one of us, individuals who live in an age of oscillation, uncertainty and unfulfilled goals. Like Krapp, who is “present at his own absence”, we are prisoners of our memories, we reduce our life to regrets. When God dies (Fr. Nietzsche), the man dies (as M. Foucault said once: “we are abandoned on the sand of the absurd”). Or, in Becket’s language, when God(ot) is not coming, poor Knapp is listening the last tape. As Pink Floyd said in “The Wall” album, our present condition is not to find answers, but to ask questions:

Is there anybody out there?

Is there anybody in there?


[1] Plato. Phaedrus. Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Boston: Forgotten Books & Indy Publish, 2008. 69.

[2] Behr, Rafael. “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle”. The Observer, 30 January 2011, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jan/30/alone-together-sherry-turkle-review?INTCMP=SRCH>.

[3] Beckett, Samuel. “Krapp’s Last Tape”, Elements of Literature. Scholes, Robert, Comley, Nancy R., Klaus, Carl H., Staines, David (Editors). 4th Canadian Edition. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2009. 1145.

[4] Conley, Tim. Ruch, Allen B. “Beckett – Works: Long Dramas for the Stage”. TheModernWorld.Com, 4 February 2004. <http://www.themodernword.com/beckett/beckett_works_drama.html>.

[5] Campbell, Julie. “The Semantic Krapp in Krapp’s Last Tape”. Samuel Beckett: Crossroads and Borderlines,  Ed. Buning, Marius, Engelberts, Matthijs, and Houppermans, Sjef (Eds.) Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi B.V.Editions, 1997. 63.

[6] Beckett, Samuel. op. cit.. 1143.

[7] Ibid. 1143.

[8] Kennedy, Andrew. “Krapp’s Dialogue of Selves.” Beckett at 80/Beckett in Context. Ed. Enoch Brater. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. 105.

[9] Borgmann, Albert. Technology and the character of contemporary life: a philosophical inquiry, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1984. 39-48.

[10] Kennedy, Andrew. Op. cit..104.

[11] Beckett, Samuel. op. cit.. 1142.

[12] ibid. 1147.

Bunicuța noastră, maimuțica vorbitoare!

În sfârșit o șansă pentru a umaniza maimuțele. După ce L-am ”antropologizat” pe Dumnezeu, începem să antropologizăm și animalele. Bat-o vina de evoluție că tot creaționiști suntem!

(Reuters, July 21, 2011) – Scientific experiments that insert human genes or cells into animals need new rules to ensure they are ethically acceptable and do not lead to the creation of “monsters,” a group of leading British researchers said on Friday.

While humanizing animals in the name of medical research offers valuable insights into the way human bodies work and diseases develop, clear regulations are needed to make sure humanization of animals is carefully controlled.

Extreme scenarios, such as putting brain cells into primates to create talking apes, may remain science fiction, but researchers around the world are constantly pushing boundaries.

Chinese scientists have already introduced human stem cells into goat fetuses and U.S. researchers have studied the idea of creating a mouse with human brain cells — though they have not actually done so.

Such controversial research needs special oversight, according to a report from Britain’s Academy of Medical Sciences on the use of animals containing human material.

Using animals with limited humanized traits is not new. Genetically engineered mice containing human DNA are already a mainstay of research into new drugs for diseases like cancer.

But Martin Bobrow, a professor of medical genetics at the University of Cambridge, who led the Academy’s working group, said there were three areas of particular concern.

“Where people begin to worry is when you get to the brain, to the germ (reproductive) cells, and to the sort of central features that help us recognize what is a person, like skin texture, facial shape and speech,” he told reporters.

His report recommends that government should put in place a national expert body, working within the existing system for regulating animal research, to oversee such sensitive areas.

British ministers said they welcomed the report and would consider its recommendations carefully.

Bobrow said other countries would need to follow suit with their own rules, as their scientists and regulators also recognized the need to address potential public concerns.

STEM CELLS

In addition to helping fight debilitating diseases, humanized animals have played a pivotal role in developing new treatments for infertility. They are also central to much stem cell research.

The world’s first clinical trial using neural stem cell therapy in stroke patients — a joint project between Scottish researchers and British biotech company ReNeuron — was only possible after first testing human brain cells on rats.

Robin Lovell-Badge, a geneticist at the Medical Research Council, said other important animal research models included a Down’s syndrome mouse with some 300 human genes and one with 95 percent of its liver derived from human cells.

A public opinion poll carried out for the report found general support for research into animals containing human material, if it was conducted to improve human health.

But there were serious concerns voiced about experiments involving the brain, the potential fertilization of human eggs or sperm in an animal, and giving animals human characteristics such as facial features or speech.

Attitudes also differed according to type of animal.

“If you come home and your parrot says ‘Who’s a pretty boy?’ that’s one thing. But if your monkey says it that’s something else,” said Christopher Shaw of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler)

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