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It was once said that we take things for granted in our society, that we should give more appreciation and respect to institutions that diligently organize and take care of all our necessities, i.e: health, education, workplace. Everyday we are fed the redundant rhetoric that a higher power or institution has happily obliged to take on our necessities while treating them like they are their own, so the least we can do is obey the rules, laws, and regulations; making it a win-win situation for the masses. In a nutshell, they provide and we in turn oblige and become apart of the obedient civilization. The system has ingrained into our brains the misleading thought that because they take care of necessities, again, like schools, roads, and health care, that we have to blindly comply. Therefore, if the laws/regulations are breached, we will, by default, incur daunting and heavy costs.


This ‘co-dependent’ situation we got going on here leads us to the mind boggling question as to why we never take a second and think about this one sided relationship, masking itself as otherwise. Moreover, we never stop and ask questions like: Why do I need to follow these rules and regulations? How did they form to begin with? Why do we need a government at all? And most importantly, are we better off without one? Those vital questions lead us to uncover two different schools of thought that were adopted by two profound figures who's ideologies have been around for quite a while and yet never cease to reach their demise, they are none other than Rousseau and Hobbes. In light of both figures and their ideologies being major eye openers, they in turn, enable one to adopt different paradigms while potentially aiding one in choosing which stance they feel more gravitated towards.


An English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes, believed that if there was no system nor government (a pure state of nature), then society would be in a constant state of war. He believed that rules that are set in a rigid and planned fashion, in turn, cultivate the thread of morality, which a good and civilized society should clearly ascertain in hoped of avoiding mass mayhem arising at every corner. With that being said, tailored rules and regulations pave the way and allow people to differentiate between good and bad. Hence, if we were to adopt Hobbes’ ideology, it wouldn’t be wrong of someone to go stab another in the foot, take his belongings, and leave him wounded, since there is no law or rule preventing one from doing so if we were indeed living in the state of nature, with no prevalent system or body of government.


Now on the other end of the spectrum arises the prolific John Jacques Rousseau, who’s ideologies are rooted far from the former stance. When we think of Rousseau, we think of Romanticism, which emanates the primacy of the individual and was somewhat of a backlash to the Enlightenment's rigorous focus on reasoning and rationality. So, in hopes of diverging from a stance that focuses solely on rationality and science, Romanticism was curated whilst shedding a potent light on human emotion and carrying it to the forefront. With that being sad, Rousseau essentially believed that humans, when put closer to nature, elicited unique characteristics that flourished and thrived in the sublime presence of nature, including aspects like emotion, feeling, and existing in time and space. In fact, Rousseau wholeheartedly believed that advancement, in any facet of the word, is a bane to humanity as a whole and not a win like it's painted out to be. The further we converge to the arts, sciences, and culture, the more we diverge from the essence of nature. And finally, he eclipses his school of thought in this beautifully written quote: ‘The sciences and the arts spread garlands of flowers over the iron chains which weigh men down, snuffing out in them the feeling of the original liberty for which they appear to have been born and make them love their slavery by turning them into what are called civilized people.’


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We have all somewhat crossed paths with the infamous and quite controversial quote that Nietzsche goes on to eloquently reverberate that goes somewhere along the lines of: “God is dead and he remains dead and we have killed him”. For years and years this quote has been interpreted in numerous ways in hopes of getting closer to the true meaning of what it earnestly entails. A consensus has somewhat been reached that the overarching theme of this truncated version is that the world has come a long way since the scientific revolution, and that science has paved the way for, arguably, life changing inventions. But we have to stop and ask ourselves, at what cost does the 'life changing' journey come with?

We as citizens of the world have somewhat joined in, implicitly, on a mission that maneuvers us closer to the 'truth' by using the means of science and technology while elbowing out all other options that aren’t efficient, so to speak. Every agent we embark upon holds the same mantra that is essentially one across the board. Think about it, what is the goal of education houses? To somewhat dissect concepts and ideas efficiently, to an adjacently definite answer, with little to no wiggle room. Same goes for occupations, where doing things efficiently and effectively are praised, while any other way is condemned. We are so infatuated by finding the fasted and most efficient means of achieving a goal, that along they way, we end up loosing ourselves, our freedom, and our autonomy.

Ellul feeds into this idea of infatuation and takes it one step further by saying that we as institutions are obsessed with measuring things whilst quantitatively assessing ever nook and cranny. With that being said, because we are so in over our heads in regards to potent ideologies like technology, speed, and innovation, we end up utterly neglecting the fact that the most meaningful and sublime aspects in life cannot be measured. Using quantitative means to ascertain fragile and intrinsic aspects like feelings, emotions, and happiness, which are are human characteristics, would be unjust and quite misleading. With this ill mindset, one will verbatim use the same method of eradicate widgets from a factory to dealing with people in a society. Because after all, quantitative methods prevail and are one across the board for all problems, negligent of their very nature. And alas, people and widgets become congruent on the same wavelength and essentially, become one.

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Now I need you to recall and somewhat snapshot in your mind, if you will, a moment in time in this day and age where you were in front of breathtaking mountains, vigorous statues, intricate paintings or in other words, anything that emulates beauty and depth. Now pay close attention to me here: How many people do you recall that weren't essentially rushing tenaciously to take out their phones to capture the jaw dropping, and somewhat fleeting moment on camera while manifesting all their energy to get that “perfect” image, instead of savouring the moment? The answer to my question is probably slim to none. A good portion of people when met with a profound sight or scene are primed and conditioned to react in such a way that elbows in the mindset of needing to have this scene captured so they can “ Hold onto it forever and ever. But alas, the beauty of a thing sometimes lies in that it is indeed fleeting, thereby, encouraging you to harness its energy without a technological intermediary. The energy between you and the object will surely be enough to grasp all the omnipotent juices and hit not one, but many chords within.


With that being said, William Benjamin wholeheartedly believed that the subject/object relationship that is cultivated, hence, consolidated when existing palpably in space and time cannot ever be replaced with merely “capturing” it on a technological device. As a result, by succumbing to ill enticing technology, one would eradicate themselves from the “Aura of a Work of Art”. The Aura is nothing short of extraordinary. Indeed encompassing your tailored interpretation and reflection coupled with eclipsing the prevalent energy the object puts forth that paves the way for your version of this art to take shelter, whilst leaving a footprint in your neural pathways.


With the lived experiences of the Aura, comes somewhat of a perpetual distance. Contrary to popular belief, the distance one feels while interacting with another agent doesn't pull one apart from the object to say the least, it's actually allowing the aesthetic experience to come full circle while gracing you to use your own lens for deriving meaning from experience. That distance emanates all the time in the world for you to digest and register the inflow of feeling, emotion, and value. Consequently, because people are so afraid of this distance, they succumb to technological agents to rapidly capture every angle of an object while missing that harmonious unison between subject and object, in turn, putting a damper in the now void aesthetic experience.


Thus, the downside of technology arises with the advent of photography, stripping away the powerful process of calibrating our own reality, coupled with our own sensations taking the wheel, so to speak. Technology had a problem with that distance that was integral to the Aura, hence, it thought it would truncate the sublime process whilst eradicating the distance which resulted in the mass reproduction and distribution of copies of that now “Not so special” object anymore.


Let’s take the Mona Lisa for example, imagine that technology wasn’t a thorn in the process, and at that first glance of looking at the painting you feel this rush of emotion stretching from curiosity to anxiety all topped off with your sensations transcribing how this work of art imprints a bit of itself on you. Just ruminate for a second on that one of a kind experience. Unfortunately, it's short lived. Cue in the advent of photography, and now, with a click of a button, the photo of the Mona Lisa is vastly distributed to all ends of the Earth. Hence, the Aura, and this sublime process, is put to its demise. Because of the internet bombarding us with photos left and right of scenes we earnestly wanted to witness in person, that were once spectacular to us, are now in the category of “Meh” or lurking in the indifference facet of our brains, if you will. The phenomenon of the vast replication and wide distribution of photos stole the Aura, dubbing us as somewhat complacent to art and other objects. Hence, we more than often fail to experience that euphoric existence between subject and object in time and space, prevalent with serenity and tranquility .The thrill of seeing a Mona Lisa or a Van Gough is eroded to its core due to technology and its pivotal role it had to take the distance away from deriving true meaning from something. As a result, it has opened the doors for mass reproduction and distribution that we have all fallen ill to deploying.


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