The hypocrisy of the “politically correct”

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As much as provocation is less needed nowadays due to sensitive issues, the politically correct attitude is nevertheless as harmful. When a cat for example can’t be called a cat but “a furry four-legged domestic feline” then there is a problem.

The problem is that the purpose of discourse or art is deviated from its original objectives: expression, communication, truth. We are then left with sugar coated words and art that is lifeless.

Music can tell readdress the dilemma here. Let’s go back musically to not farfetched decades: the 80s and the 90s. Artists back then promoted all types of passions: love was a lot of love, anger was brutal, and sadness was depressive; joy was more than joyful and darkness was terrifying. Along this musical, poetic and visual process, all those passions (especially dark ones) went through sublimation. In Freudian terms, sublimation is a defense mechanism that reduces anxiety through the transformation of aggressive impulses into artistic, intellectual and spiritual activities.  

Look at music now. Apart from happy few artists, music has become politically correct. Is it the result of our anxious world or did it help in provoking anxiety and violence?

From Mothers To Witches | Exploring Traditional Female Roles In Literature

Written by Lay Sion Ng @ Issues Under Tissues Chinese Malaysian, American Literature at Osaka University, Japan.   Traditional Female Roles in Literature: An Introduction   In the earliest works of literature, the basic roles of females are frequently determined through their relation to men. The submissive ones were rewarded while the rebellious ones were […]

From Mothers To Witches | Exploring Traditional Female Roles In Literature

Walter Benjamin on mass distraction!

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German philosopher who committed suicide for not being able to escape under sieged France. The text was below was taken from his books The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), an essay on cultural criticism on mass reproduction that undervalues the uniqueness of art.

“The mass is a matrix from which all traditional behavior toward works of art issues today in a new form. Quantity has been transmuted into quality. The greatly increased mass of participants has produced a change in the mode of participation. The fact that the new mode of participation first appeared in a disreputable form must not confuse the spectator. Yet some people have launched spirited attacks against precisely this superficial aspect. Among these, Duhamel has expressed himself in the most radical manner. What he objects to most is the kind of participation which the movie elicits from the masses. Duhamel calls the movie “a pastime for helots, a diversion for uneducated, wretched, worn-out creatures who are consumed by their worries a spectacle which requires no concentration and presupposes no intelligence which kindles no light in the heart and awakens no hope other than the ridiculous one of someday becoming a ‘star’ in Los Angeles.” Clearly, this is at bottom the same ancient lament that the masses seek distraction whereas art demands concentration from the spectator. That is a commonplace.

Distraction and concentration form polar opposites which may be stated as follows: A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. He enters into this work of art the way legend tells of the Chinese painter when he viewed his finished painting. In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art. This is most obvious with regard to buildings. Architecture has always represented the prototype of a work of art the reception of which is consummated by a collectivity in a state of distraction. The laws of its reception are most instructive.

The distracted person, too, can form habits. More, the ability to master certain tasks in a state of distraction proves that their solution has become a matter of habit

Reception in a state of distraction, which is increasing noticeably in all fields of art and is symptomatic of profound changes in apperception, finds in the film its true means of exercise”. 

The philosophy of the doormat

It is peculiar to put the words philosophy and doormat in one sentence. But the truth of a doormat goes deeper to what meets the eye.

A doormat is a mat placed in a doorway, on which people can wipe their shoes on entering a building. They wipe their shoes from dust, mud and bacteria or viruses brought back from the outside. A doormat is then a cleaning mat; that’s the superficial way to understand what it is. However, a doormat is way beyond its wiping function.

A doormat is the separation between the inside and the outside, the private and the public. At the start, the public meant nature where people used to work or spend their days. If we praise nature now, it was not the case longtime ago. Back then and still to this day, nature was synonymous to dirt, dust and dangerous creatures. Residents in houses with gardens know exactly that definition, a doormat in every doorway, daily swiping the floor from sand and dead leaves, tracking insects and spraying pesticides. The same goes for all the daily hygiene because the idea of nature is dirt. Deodorant smells better than natural body odor.

Humans built culture as opposed to nature. They built a world that stands between nature and them, a world that is a mirror to humans. A doormat separates culture from nature.

Breaking traditions and breaking free

Traditions, what are they for?

Traditions are an endless repetition of an event, a behaviour, an action or just a way of being based on a cultural idea brought to light by society over generations. Repeating is cementing an identity, a cultural heritage and an ideology. Christmas tree, white wedding dress, Sunday family lunch for example and much more are Christian traditions and collective consciousness (to pick this concept from Marx0 perpetuated even by non Christians. It does tell then how religions in general shaped up and influenced our daily life until this present day.

Are traditions bad? Some are and some aren’t. However what is bad about traditions in general is limiting individual freedom. Identity goes deeper and wider than its social characteristics (nationality, race, religion etc.) and it is linked to individual freedom. Not only a background defines a person but this person does, what lessons they learned from their experiences, what they have been through and so on. Therefore, identity and freedom are beyond traditions and repetitions. They are endlessly evolving.

This is why, breaking free and “becoming who you are” to rephrase Nietzsche is to break free from traditions or at least to make the latter work for you and not the other way around.

A blog post by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is beyond any introduction. He is one the most famous and most prolific bloggers out there. I am reblogging his post because, as usual, his posts are accurate and straight to the point.

Dancing with belief

All of us believe things that might be inconsistent, not based on how the real world actually works or not shared by others. That’s what makes us human.

There are some questions we can ask ourselves about our beliefs that might help us create the change we seek:

Is it working?

If your belief is working for you, if it’s helping you navigate a crazy world and find solace, and if it’s not hurting anyone else, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Often, beliefs are about finding human connection and a way to tell ourselves about our place in the world, not as an accurate predictive insight as to what’s actually happening. And beliefs are almost always about community, about being part of something.

Is it helpful?

Air traffic controllers and meteorologists rarely believe that the earth is flat. It’s a belief that would get in the way of being competent at their work. If your beliefs are getting in the way of your work, of your health or the health of those around you, or of your ability to be a contributing citizen, it might be worth examining why you have them and how they got there. Did you decide to have these beliefs or did someone with an agenda that doesn’t match yours promote them?

Is it true? 

True in the sense that it’s falsifiable, verifiable, testable and predictive. Falsifiable means that the belief is specific enough that something contrary to the belief could be discovered (“there are no orange swans” is a falsifiable belief, because all we need to do is find one orange swan). It’s not necessary for a belief to be scientifically true, in fact, it undermines the very nature of belief to require evidence. Once there’s evidence, then whatever is true is true, whether or not you believe it.

Do you need it to be true?

Which means that much of what we do to somehow prove our beliefs are true is wasted time and effort. If a belief is helping you make your way through the world, if it acts as a placebo and a balm and a rubric, then that’s sufficient. The problems occur when some people use our beliefs to manipulate us, when they prevent us from accomplishing our goals or contributing to the well being of those around us.

What would change your mind?

If we decide that our belief is actually true, we owe it to ourselves to be clear about what would have to happen for us to realize that it’s not. One of the frustrating things about conspiracies and modern memes is that as soon as they’re examined or contradicted, they’re simply replaced with a new variation. It’s one thing to change beliefs because the scientific method shows us a more clear view of what’s happening, it’s totally different to retreat to ever more unrelated stories in the face of reality. Sometimes, it’s easier for people to amend their belief with one more layer of insulation than it is to acknowledge how the world is likely to work.

The quest for impossible love affairs

Love, probably the most debated concept, is easy (it should be, right?) But complicated (for sure). The most natural feeling that ties people together has never been less than difficult, up to impossible sometimes.

Following a certain pattern of impossible loves, going from one impossible affair into another, is not a pure coincidence. Digging deeper, this pattern hides a subconscious (or unconscious) reason.

Falling for impossible loves more than once says a fear of commitment. Worse, it reveals a guilt feeling of betraying parents or closed loved ones. An impossible love doesn’t lead to commitment; so one is safe from commitment, guilt and betrayal.

Always falling for the “wrong” person is not a lack of chance. It is an unconscious choice. It is repeating the same experience over and over again. This repeated pattern of a person lies between the myth of Sisyphus and the Stockholm syndrome.

Emancipating oneself from the chain of the absurdity of this repeated heartbreaks requires a mind reset. And this is a long sinuous road of self discovery.

The invisible people

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Human history mentioned invisible people without mentioning them. The mass, the vast majority, the anonymous are mainly forgotten in all walks of life.

In Plato’s “Allegory of the cave”, the invisible people are left to their destiny, choosing between comfort and manipulation or the arduous journey of freedom made by Socrates, the only visible one.

The invisible slaves changed history with Spartacus, the visible slave.

Mandela, The King, Gandhi are still vividly visible men of salvation and justice.

The invisible people are the people we choose not to look at. Beggars and homeless are faceless and nameless people of the modern world.

History, ethics, philosophy taught us that ideals of justice and equality are to fight for. However, society is still based on hierarchy, on visibility and invisibility.

The real force lies in the invisible world!