University of Oradea, Romania
The present article presents a Philosophical-Scientific-Academic overview in Romania at the following levels:
- Public visibility and the obliteration of abstraction in favor of being newsworthy;
- Truth and / or Rating;
- The culture of disguise and post-communist evasiveness.
At the end of the article, conclusions and implications are discussed.
Keywords: newsworthy, current philosophy in Romania
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to:
Sorin Borza Universitatea din Oradea Str. Armatei Române, nr. 3-5, Oradea Romania
Nowadays, the habit of sitting in a cozy armchair and meditating uninhibited on ethical architecture is perceived (not without some good reason) as a sterile reminiscence of the “rhapsodic“ philosophy. The term “rhapsodic” is used in a Kantian sense and is not fixed. In technical laboratories in universities, evidence is offered and interpreted exclusively with the counsel of the scientific community. The inadequacy of these considerations born in the shelter of a university is not (as might be guessed) a postmodern discovery. Despite almost general agreement, the academic community seems not at all prepared to recognize this methodological crisis, preferring to disguise the disagreements or identity differences through an increasingly vigorous consensus production (i.e. newsworthy). It could be argued that to be means to be fashionable or in vogue (and the vogue seems to be to reduce scientific nomenclature to popularity from what generously could be called in the past abstraction). In the light of my conclusion and this trend, an appetite has grown for public visibility of the person to differentiate him or her from the work at hand. The succession of public visibility – credibility – academic consensus away from abstraction toward being newsworthy becomes transformed and reduced into a common success solution, so that any attempt to establish values in science (truth, good, justice) ends up sooner or later in the general information market as “news” and not as proper “science”. This media exposure assumes an off-centered hostility that is immediately expressed in fixedness. The ever-growing tendency to “socialize” scientific conclusions and abstraction through consensus potentially endangers initiative and personhood in favor of vogue or being newsworthy. There are fears and voices that claim that this corporate tendency could ultimately backfire and lead to the “assassination of scientific culture” as it is replaced by entertainment (i.e. being newsworthy or being liked by the media and the public the media claims to serve). This last conclusion reflects the influence of Habermas.
Before it hits the public, any mythological Muse deals with the ethical values that have emerged from a contextual interpretation. The interpretation is extremely vulnerable to approximation. The contemporary imago-centrism and the imago-centric hermeneutics associated with it provide the immediate basis for consensus production. The image lends itself to interpretations that the Cartesian rigor of the logos does not allow. Imago-centrism accepts a delusion of meaning in order to obtain consensus. Therefore, it could be argued that the imago-centric world generates particularly actionable ethics where the principle consensus produces actual effects. In a world where everyone is right in his own way, evil has become a mere dysfunction of ego. Catholic or greater civilization heals its own wounds, always on a temporary basis, through a mere change of outlook. For obvious reasons, it is rare not to recognize openly the fact that circulated “news” in the mass media does not form the basis of any science and does not even lead to a full understanding (to understand subtle connections that are not reducible to sense data). Yet, it would be difficult to say that generations today are less receptive towards science. Knowledge, as a form of power, continues to fulfill Francis Bacon’s aphorism that “Knowledge is power. . .”, but in a totally different sense for science to be of interest. Instrumentalism has helped with the loss of causal explanation. The effect: control and the practical profit (visible and immediate) represent the new goals of research science. The concept of “applied research” has become a new, magical formula of access to resources. What “applied research” really becomes will be determined or at least enormously influenced by ideology.
Public visibility is persistently promoted as a presumptive condition of universal relevance. The image (the artifact, and the mythical-image as well) becomes the primary environment of convictions propagation and under this condition, “every look is a piece of the global power mechanism” (Foucault, 2005). The power of image fashions attitude norms and the image of power takes methodological advantage of them. The imago-centric ethic is the product of structural ambivalence and a figurative culture. The contemporary video-culture (as well as post-modernity) has as a vocation the equivoque (allowing for several different meanings by deleting the underlying subject).
The end of Gutenberg’s galaxy and the birth of Argus’ swarm of galaxies is the consequence of telescoping the colloquial. Prisoner of an imago-centric universe, a human being has no choice but to join in the “game” with its plentitude of confidential rules. In the name of a so-called ethics of total transparency (useless “sincerity” of factual nudity), the information consumer is bombarded with non-essential trivia. In this distracting environment, the refinement of power manipulation opens the way for an invasive normativity in the information sphere. (Greco-European culture, resembling Faust, finds its fulfillment on the spectrum of mass communication where only those who know can be.) In an era where secrets live for a limited amount of time, the present has become a ridiculous archive where people presuppose ethical markers, not because people have internalized a given paradigm, but because they are (with method) against the dangers of theorizing (primitive simplifications, non-legitimate extrapolations, and others). Suffocated with concrete and tiring distracting details, humans live under the terror of imminent disconnection from humankind.
In this Romania age, it seems that the citizens are incapable of resolving the paradox of an information overload. Under the pretext that they be informed without censuring, the images come towards people continuously and with alacrity. The physical possibilities of processing increasingly consistent image “packages” decrease exponentially with the exposure to the data flow. Citizens give up on filtering the informative torrent to reorient themselves. Each person gives up the quality of information processing out of an obsessive passion for the quantity of data accumulation. As a result, the more “informed” a society is, the more vulnerable (disoriented), exposed to manipulation it becomes. These autocratic processes find existential reasons in societies vulnerable to destabilization. In the imago-centric societies, the ethical no longer has the consistency and rigor of the conceptual ethics of modernity. Such ethics “caught on” much easier in Romania (where our “misfired” modernity did not allow for internalizing values). This seems true of Eastern Europe in general.
Ethics represents the backbone of cultural communities. In turn, cultural and civic marks shape institutional architecture. The culture articulates the political. The insanity of the spiritual-ethical marks of a certain period of time receives symptomatic expressions at both (general) civilization and (individual) mental levels. The principles (most of them) liquefy at the unbearable temperatures of exacerbated propulsion for profit. The inclination for profit in not unreasonable in itself, but the obsession for profit represents a threat to the future of communities.
The deficit of deep articulation of values is the efficient cause for the insatiable appetite of the imago-centric era in this scenario. The assumed compromise via deficit generates solidarity, which is the very practical ingredient that can insure social peace.
Under these auspices, the history of public ignorance (of yesterday or history especially) converts into a method in the history of “directed information” (disinformation). The sustained avalanche of “vital data” creates a continuous environment of pressure: what one knows, one must know now. The imminence of a disconnection from the flux worries and transforms the opinion debates (highly mediated) and so is an indispensable element for success. Connected society does not and cannot afford choice. Repeated changes in society lead to individual incapacity for even evaluating public perception of the (political) action in absence of management of some common clichés—the purpose of which is “code” or inside jargon. The image (unlike the concept) is susceptible to this accessible insider jargon. The large body of interpretations of the image lends itself to the “democratization” of feelings of competence. The illusion of competence is sustained by the quasi-mystical respect for “information”. This environment of global information has generated a severe dependency. These systematically induced clichés provide groundwork for the discreet prejudices that make the control of decoding possible and, as a consequence, the contemporary refinement of manipulation as art.
The professional manipulation of images is a symptom of a relaxation of the ethical canons. The transition-transformation from encratic language (i.e. the language of power) to encratic image seems to be the direct consequence of our century’s “weakness” or proclivity for globalization and consensus. In a world where peace is the word of the day, everybody wants military disarmament (off course, always in some other country, never the definitive renunciation of Romania’s own “security guarantees”).
Public acceptance of information and orientations that have the label of power is the main task for politics. The acceptance will lead with no doubt to fulfillment of the designated purpose because it can put on notice the rebels, the skeptical or unwieldy, the burden of the absolute sanction: de-realization. Only what is invested with public presence is real. The criterion of social presence is the measure of mediated visibility. The present is thus inscribed in history with meaning. It is surprising that these new ethical orientations become legitimate in the horizon of the solutions outlined by Edmund Husserl in “the crisis of European humanity”. This implies (Husserl, 2003, p. 41):
a new kind of practice, that of general criticism of any life and any purpose in life, of all configurations and cultural systems that results from life of humanity itself, and with this it becomes a practice of people and the values that guide it, openly or tacitly. And in a more general sense, it is a practice called to rise up humanity – through universal scientific thought – to the truth norms of all figures, to trans- form it from the ground into humanity capable of absolute self-responsibility…
The contemporary world is more evidently and profoundly interested in the active politics of representation. The impact of such politics becomes overwhelming with the unguarded proliferation of realistic representations. These copies receive more and more of the prerogatives of the model. The effect offers the possibilities offers a new technology of “fabricating” reality. So, television and the Internet gradually became major instruments of socio-historic training of the cultural values and, as a subsidiary, ethical standards.
The main concern of postmodern humankind seems not to be the fear of death. More obviously, it seems that the danger of being refused by peers for the daily life gestures and, implicitly, signified his or her symbolic death. This postmodern form of anxiety allows Paul Virillio to affirm that civil war has been replaced today by civil fear. The power to make points in front of viewers from five continents has transformed the audio-visual media into a first rate “player” on the political arena. Television has become the razor blade that replaced the famous “guillotine”. This imago-centrism hegemony is much more prompt in doling out sanctions and cheaper in upkeep. The image is power because of its capacity to ethically reorganize daily life. This hierarchy determines the conditions of political, ethical and civic life. Humans in general want to live: since visibility is a condition for survival in society, the image has become a privileged “nutrient” more than just food for though (to complete the analogy). The imago-centrism flourished under the label “grammatical violence” for which J. F. Lyotard argued. He claimed the vocal “us” to be a political grammar category characterized by imperialism. As for us human beings, we only notice Occidental or Western modernity predicted a “dictatorship of sight” that steadfastly dealt with the concept. In the West, iconophiles were exiled from metropolis on the weirdest grounds. The Occident followed (at least to some extent) the argument that Plato used to prepare the exile of the poets from the city (“they produced soul-disturbance”). Eastern Europeans and Romanians were more compliant towards the icon and the image in general. For both (Romania and Eastern Europe) a “flunked modernity” resulted (culturally and ethically), producing mimetic and primitive symbolism. Communists in the imago-mythic cadre legislated into history an infirmed society where relevant criteria were as versatile as the faces of mass silence.
Today, many people find surprising the detachment that some “TV super-masters” are ready to invoke–from this platform of virtual life flows a variety and the heterogeneity of philosophical-moral convictions and practices. One can recognize a category of “ethical sentence professionals” who substitute information rather than sources by analytical schemes armed with their examples and selected practices. Terrified by the imperatives of sense data, they pursue–from an underhanded and insolent position—a renegotiation of rapport between high culture and daily life and so have prepared (canned) or the virtual imago-exemplary. This effort at renegotiation is not justified through conclusions based upon evidence, but through specific rational-pragmatic or instrumental schemes.
Truth and / or Rating
Taking back non-problematic reality and moral certainty through public agreement is at the base of data production selection and evaluation process failure. The selection of information priorities and the criteria of data structuring is a process with deep ethical connotations. Informative reportage can “build” extremely ingenious verifiable premises whose conclusions invariably can be false. Information distribution and cadence determines a series of decisive accents that can change content reports. Information has its own perspective and character. Temporal spread and territory coverage exemplify both perspective and character. How and when information is presented by the media will either conform or deform its content. The technique of transparency dissimulation (concealment or disguise) presupposes a minor concession in the detail plan: even the tactic statement and its antithesis can be associated. An example would be the use of parody. By observation, Romanians today live in a time of silent conspiracies where it is fashionable formally to undermine a theory and not to reject it with qualified arguments (e.g. those based upon data collection and testing of hypotheses).
Individual exposure to a form of information that does not imply reflexive-reflective evaluation effort leads to passive consensus. Proliferation of this way of producing knowledge is tied to a phenomenon not often mentioned: the industrialization of consensus. Consensus need not be a negative phenomenon. But passive consensus obtained from manipulation by the media represents a symptom. The horizon of information becomes the main battlefield in this postmodern time. R. J. Lifton (1961) argues persuasively that the most important way of ensuring consensus is information control. Orwell’s thesis does not seem to have lost its vitality: whoever controls the present, controls the past and whoever controls the past, controls the future. But what does presence mean in our epoch? The level and proportions of media control decide it for the present. To be is to present interest for the public (Marin, 1981). The hierarchy of interests is decided at a press center–mostly in the television studios. The owner or boss of the reporters set decides level of interest for a certain subject. Dominating the field of signifiers through its own (exemplary) images, power legitimates its past and present. According to Marin (1981), “The king is truly a king, therefore a monarch, in images. They are his real presence… Representation, whose effect is power that, in its turn, allows and authorizes representation, is the never-ending work of force yearning for the absolute.” In the world of those who own the “mediatic reality” we can talk of a constant preoccupation for legitimizing (even when there is no justification) the “representation politics”. Power produces images while image itself becomes (even in this sense) a source of power. As McLuhan argued long ago, the medium is the message. Power becomes justified on the horizon of a ritual symbolism. Its enemy is low interest , the public being worn down. The truth of image is, according to this new Argus, a problem of rating.
People who feel a need to support authority derived from a significant set of results and from systematic research, even inconvenient results for a reader, become ‘rare birds’. Publicly promoting (arbitrary and selectively) arguments meant to confirm a given interpretation can be viewed as a political strategy. What seems normal for a politician is somewhat counter-productive and even dangerous for a scientist. The distinction of method from the political confrontation in the competition of ideas can be an equally uninspired temptation–as it is old. Still it can win in an epoch where the concept of truth undergoes strong relaxation of definitions. At the outskirts of intellectual “peace” sustained by this imago-centric civilization (resembling a pax romana), the logical contradiction is threatened.
For example, having little interest in daily life, the philosophy of Aristotle is in danger of being scuttled—even in the university. Aristotle might be considered too rigid a teacher in our self-centered and postmodern times. To do research for example, does not mean that the results will become visible or attain public acceptance.
Assuming a new hypothesis and the risk of not lumping consensus together constitutes an exception to the rule (i.e. of public acceptance). A major suspicion, without antidote, invariably destabilizes any kind of effort for ethically sectoring research, an effort placed out of the mainstream of semantic philosophical articulation. Systems become the main levers that circulate “cultural ciphers” for coding brute information or raw data. Image politics looks at this field of instrumental formality with special interest since the Greco-European model of education is maintained (sometimes officially and sometimes only implicitly) by an architecture of political interests. Exceptions to contesting the myths are the so-called ‘specific methods of training. From the persistence of these mythologies in all the systems comes the ideological ‘perversity’ inherent to any pedagogy. Any systematic pedagogical model is structured in accord with the (ethically and ideologically) broader horizon of an epoch. Ethical articulations then outpace systems and philosophies from various domains. As a consequence, the pedagogies endorse a certain type of ideology. For current practice, they prepare the current vogue with a limited series of conventional signs. System convention-alism becomes an established base for legitimate control.
The conventional distance from education used for personal discipline (spiritual education, of course) to education for secular compliance has always been confidential. Pedagogy seems not to exclude intelligent speculations yet collects them for the process of propagandized association of facts: this requires intelligence, fantasy, and self-confidence. The configuration of education as process (that which performs patterns of decoding the banal and non-intellectual) remains an instrument used by those holding power. It represents a product and at the same time an ideologically contaminated matrix. The need for centralized uniformity imposes information evaluation–in any government system—this represents a condition of a tacit pact with opinion shapers and different public image administrators.
In this regard, at the daily video-culture level, one must negotiate the conditions of training and circulation of the “official language” to meld with the encratic image. Cultural codes assumed through tenacious public circulation and social repetitions allow the power administrators to take advantage of disseminating certain aphorisms as role models. Public perception of events is guided by a controlled series of content loaded precedents that have symbolic value. According to Husserl (2003, p. 41), “It is well-known and at the same time a fully intelligible necessity, that mythical-religious motives and mythical-religious practice simultaneously belong to naturally living humanity….” Television, as the main source of value norms, becomes an example factory of. It is here that the necessary connection between image art and certain constitutive political models are formed. For contemporary human beings, the world is an aggregate of emotionally integrated signs (but not by necessity and not logically). This evidence is imposed over and above phenomenological considerations.
Coherence is born within a precise climate of exact and distributed power arrangements, so it is–more or less visibly–the result of definite, imposed relationships. As a consequence, no matter what shape speech with which we wish to avail ourselves, we live permanently under the conditions of an irreducible political dimension. Existence, in its most basic details, refers to matters that are not politically innocent. This fact avails for contemporary morals as a reason to be anxious, or at least to be basically discouraged. Symbol saturation and compliant permission represents the surviving network for any imago-centric ethics. The excess is symbol loading attracts major difficulties for separating ethical truth from media respectable and fictional utopias. Public acceptance of meaning becomes a multi-level process. The control of this process requires media preparation. Pressure from the video-cliché forces the interpretation in a direction that is ideologically comparable to ethics and especially to power interests. This fact provides the leaders of media with a preoccupation for making sure that this reality forced upon the public gets an “authenticity certificate”. Authenticity is expressed by mass compliance. The direct measure (and in a different semantic presentation, the non-measure) of public consensus is ratings (equivalent to emotional consensus).
These common observations have not lead–in scientific practice–to significantly diminishing skepticism compared to public consensus about them. Presentation of research papers at international seminars and publishing in reviewed specialty journals are still major criteria for faculty evaluation in the academy. The stereotyped habit of invoking methodic doubt does not make for a research principle that avoids errors. More often than not, somebody uses formal Cartesianism in order to block ideas from trans-domain competition. A qualified opinion is not in principle a neutral ethical and ideological opinion. Globalization threw an anathema on any kind of partisans but forgot to replace it with something else. As a general rule, for broad judgments (like ethical and esthetic ones), the postmodern world prefers the non-classifiable–the space where debate does not deliver awkward losers nor absolute values. These preferences gradually have lead to role substitution: relevance negotiates the role’s position on the horizon of knowledge. Role substitution has changed the traditional center of attention on this horizon, moving from premises towards the conclusions. One could ask, then, which is more dangerous: to obtain false conclusions from irrelevant premises, or to obtain irrelevant conclusions from true premises?
The tendency to equate relevance with truth derives from the consequence of the installation of imago-centrism into daily life. Closely maintained image politics has as its major purpose ensuring determined cultural codes that account for and deliver a negative definition of intimacy. The spectrum of this image market does not know any other syncopation. All that one is not, someone else soon will be! There is only what can be seen. Visible bitterness at any price ends up through competitive exhaustion to become non-essential. The feeling of never being alone becomes rather oppressive in a society of preventive surveillance. Sharing the cultural codes provides—albeit with some difficulty–for a feeling of the solidarity of rhetoric (argument). There cannot be honesty. As Proust would say, “We wish for one world but live in another.” Intellectuals from the Central Europe “manage” under the threat of being marginalized by adopting evasive styles. Many show assertion or freedom through the exercise of double speak, while the mass of intellectuals (what is left of them) dodge this bullet by selling their obedience.
The culture of disguise and post-communist evasiveness
In Romania and Central Europe, this description seems to fit like a glove. Elasticity of sensing civic and socio-political labels has been transmitted in a non-productive manner and in a common way of seeing the world. Value byproducts from the civilized world lead to a observable disorganization of the global evaluation mechanisms. In Romania and Central Europe, intellectuals have been influences by the sparseness of values as well as shaped by conjunctures. A type ‘horizontal culture’, poorer from censorship, forced the development of a new and lowly argot on the horizon of supposed high culture. Maijuru (2005) has referred to this as years of a “cultural jail”, where the outspoken who were being untied in the party could mock lack of discipline, lead to the exercise on the horizon of what Alain Besancon used to call (but in a different context) “the game of double reality”. The double standard of the ethics was painted onto the canvas of double reality. In Romania and Central Europe, communists installed, ‘show-off morality’. Each moral aphorism became a speech object. In reality, very few people among the citizenry took things seriously–on one hand because the exigencies were unrealistic and on the other because the citizenry had not offered a counter-model, structured one with its own structure and categories.
The induced-by-the-party appetite of intellectuals for the double speak led to a culture of dissimulation or disguise and concealment. This culture was born as an automatic defense against the folk (i.e. myths in the making) disguises whose vulgarity at that time was the centerpiece of a licensed lack of creative culture. The ethical deficit was a consequence of the lack of vitality and spontaneity of cultural standards.
Undermining literary postmodernism has detectable forerunners on the intellectual horizon that was silenced behind the iron curtain. Romania and Central Europe still indulges themselves in allusions and resentments precisely because they might have had an hereditary tendency toward weak thinking (according to Giani Vatimo). These breaks with reality were a direct consequence of the trauma provoked by half a century in which the intellectuals whispered. In the opinion of Majuru (2005), “Romanian cultivated social classes continue to be very thin and dangerously fragile, with the stigma of isolation on their faces.” Intellectuals’ predilection for the conspirator-coded message (writing between the lines) is the effect of a dramatic need for preservation the spiritual freedom. On this horizon of frustration intellectuals try to foreshadow or deal with plural means of decoding. By promoting cultural products compatible with the official ideologies, yet expressive enough (i.e., slippery-expressionist) to provoke parallel conscience, techniques are refined through use of a series of evasive tactics meant to fool the censorship. Culture that is circulated thereby with official accord implicitly promotes a parallel cultural cipher that leads to critical de-myth-making in daily life. Culture becomes subversive beyond the declared intentions of the authors so that ‘betrayals’ or undermining explicit meaning gradually replace the essence of the cultural act. Illusion replaces affirmation and the doctrine of meaningful peace takes over cultural dialogue. Later–after the fall of communism–these graceful deviations that had been lost “between the lines” were reused as hallmarks of courage and evidence of dissidence. The culture of disguise had been committed post festum venisti, as damaged goods meant to vent intellectuals’ contempt towards a regime that had tolerated only subtle and invariably impotent revolt. There were certain forms of (benign) lack of discipline by which account cultural people were dislodged from the party. Artificial and demonstrative qualities through these “metaphysical lacks of discipline” put down so-called undesirable (subversive) creation of any attempts at ethical change. This interior resistance ethic by which a number of respected dissidents thrust upon themselves a formula that did not persuade anyone only fooled naïve people. Any new task that was placed on the culture of disguise was spiritually rebuffed.
Historical reality was painted on a mythical canvas of immovable time. By connotation and multiple messages, imago-mythical symbolism drifted away from mechanics implied by cryptic language or argot (understood as a set of official signs). Communism therefore admitted the bankruptcy of its logic since it could not conceive of the inadequacy of its own millennial project. This tragic admission led to an unprecedented wearing out of its credibility as a practical doctrine. The sparseness of standards in a culture mimicked by the electorate seems to have been ideal for a serious critic of cultural post-colonialism. A lucid redistribution metaphysical denied us of the satisfaction of finding in the West the main cause of personal cultural (minor) failure. Wooden language attracted–at the level of subjective evaluation–the disqualification of the political speech as a whole.
The entrance of wooden language into social-political rhetoric became an ideal occasion for detachment from censor rules. The relaxation of signs and the frequency of the double meanings transformed the cultural jail into a virtual laboratory of trying out post-modernity. Post-modernity gave up on the resuscitation of logo-centrism, replacing that effort with relativism for reconciling the mythical with its ‘weak thought’ to post-structuralism. The communist fiction became a pauper derived form myth. There, mythical and the cultural products met at the political level with their common quality as exemplary means of communication. Not just Stephen Tyler (1986, p. 131) rejected the so called ‘magic’ of the significant representational ideology, affirming that it was instituted as an ideology of power. There are many intellectuals from the Romania and Central Europe who agreed without reservations that the power in question should be broken. By the means of culture, power launches forever its own instantiated myths of meaning and on their account its own value norms. The understanding here of myth is that proposed by Roland Barthes: visual or verbal discourse—including photographic and newsprint—meant to saturate the horizon of a conviction. Myth in this sense was discredited by the Enlightenment and then by science. This was not reprehensible. The problem was whether it tolerated, or not, pluralism on the political horizon.
At the outside, what today can be called image politics (horizon of historical plausibility) is a mythical, structured field. Power identity pretences generally are claimed in a figured order. The ‘crash of civilizations, according to Huntington, is after all incompatible at the Weltanschauung level (i.e. outlook on the world). Central Europe and Romania are being separated by their view plus their thinking about the world for contemporary residents is to see (homo videns). The way of life becomes welded into people’s consciences through the condition of a legendary, mythical antecedents. In this regard, a reader can ask, together with Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy (1999, p. 14), if “legend can give birth to legitimacy and if legitimacy can be legendary, who shall establish what is after all the foundational right of a people?” Built upon the same discursive architecture, it can continue to be asked: what arguments does the civilization of electronic media have to sustain the necessity of a global ethics?
The habit of negotiating contact with historical reality plus dexterity to juggle interpretations are the first effects of the long exercise of double meanings. An irrevocable depravation is not implied here, however. Double meanings are not necessarily slated to become forms of cowerdness. There are superficial people who often talk about the faces of reality from a desire to explain all of the important concessions they made at one time. And if it is possible for certain individuals to maintain superficiality through language structure, there are of course enough people for whom the need for efficiency has become, thanks to the “right” education, a psycho-actional reflex. Honest moral practice does not prevent human beings from ledgering different levels of reality. Certain realities are incommensurable, such as disease and game playing, as is the case love and war.
People instinctively ledger the above referenced distinctions: humans do not require special talents when they speak of very different things (i.e. moral issues). Still, it seems that most people work to restrict areas of personal judgment and relegate that work to categories capable of being standardized through the medium of a precise methods. There seem to be more and more specialists who claim to be right in more and more restricted domains and therefore on the horizon of general categories. When they construct or manufacture the truth, they cut from the sphere of knowledge criticism and thereby try to insulate themselves from criticism. These precautions work to ensure these neo-language groupies the common possibility of banding together socially in a world where suspending generic judgments and criticisms seem rather qualified recipes in place of and as commensurate with common sense. What follows makes for accentuated regions of competences, justified by rations of professional relevance (e.g. ‘I am right because I said so.’). To perform is to be ultra-specialized and visible. High media visibility using such argot makes one credible: and–why not–if there is enough interest for immediate, reflexive acceptance?
Perhaps it is exaggerated to talk about deceiving moral standards for contemporary image politics that operate for the benefit of immediate profit obtained for the advantage of a certain financer or some well-defined interest groups. Still, authoritative dismantling of philosophical discourse outside of public view and comment leads to a certain privatization of image politics in the direction that the social competitors circulate daily. The restriction of philosopher communities in Husserl’s sense should not surprise anybody. According to Husserl (2003, p 49), “Even from the beginning of philosophy, persecution existed: people that live within these ideas were outcasts. And yet: ideas are tougher than all empirical forces.” This is well known by those who, paying attention to ideas, do not let the common folk see the real powers and keep the eye fooled. In the age of Argus, swarms of galaxies provide more images that hide the world than those that unveil it.
Forms of image manipulation are, no doubt, more sophisticated today than ever. Imago examples in public usually have a very conventional and harmless look. The essence of the power generated ‘cultural truce’ by image bearers becomes necessary to ensure guidance (and why not pre-configurations?) of exact decoding responsible for predictable attitudes. Whoever controls the image rules the present. The preset imposes itself as meaningful reality under the continuing pressure of some imago-mythical centered norms. Ethics subsists, then, as an instrument–not as a generic principle–in a world where the proliferation of ‘fraud factories’ crowns both mediocrity and devitalized individuality. The apparent solidarity of public interests does not give individuals more real power. Power (specifically political power) increases ultimately to the detriment of both crowned mediocrity and devitalized individuality: it generates sympathy. This empathy does not make for a physical distance problem. The symbolic (gathered together) defies the concrete. Unfortunately, contemporary image civilization ensures only the collective and efficient organization of loneliness.
The isolation of consciences by supra connecting them to non-essential and daily electronic supervision represent the new definitive traits in the Argus galaxy. Selected monitoring becomes the premises for efficiency. Experimentation becomes the key for validation. Unlike the shadows in the Platonic cave, image civilization produces stereoscopic deception. On the horizon of imago-centrism, people are sucked into this type coding. Above the world of shadows and lights lingers the slippery silhouettes of new forms. It seems difficult to imagine something more a-moral than trying to discipline multitudes by manufacturing and standardizing their consciences. Behind the respectable mask of some worthy values (tolerance, solidarity, and mutual consensus) the ‘democratization’ of the truth becomes the masterpiece of the imago-centric ethics. Resuscitating and moving backwards (in the famous esse percipi meaning) bears proof of the massive importation of pragmatism into Romania that Europe has already begun to regret. What seems not to be recognized is that by taking on this existential-pragmatic mindset with its relative truth, Romanian academic-social-and-cultural image makers have unwittingly begun to eliminate individual freedom.
Since freedom is quite difficult to obtain and maintain, perhaps those people who have not closed their eyes during this manipulative process of stifling Being (Sein) should now be permitted in the academy to talk more about truth and justice. Without the installation of metaphysics again into the Romanian academy, neither the citizenry nor professionals can hope for a reversal of the disguised ethical codes that have been thrust upon them.
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