Understanding the Media in a Time of “Fake News”

The media is not neutral or unbiased. It never has been. The formation of mass newspapers around the world were tied to political parties to promote respective agendas. As such, the media can be distinctively broken down into a three-tiers. The first, faute de mieux, is the mainstream media. The mainstream media is the basest […]

Understanding the Media in a Time of “Fake News”

The four questions of Kant and their eventual answers today

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In the Preface of The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant asks three questions that gave the fourth one. His project is an enquiry undertaken by Pure Reason to search out the limits of Pure Reason. The questions are the following:

What can I know?

What ought I to do?

What may I hope for?

What is man?

I will start with the last one just to figure out how we can answer these questions today.

What is man? Or what am I?

I was told by reading Kant and other philosophers that I am a rational being, capable of speaking (Aristotle), living through dialectics so that the Universal Reason can establish itself in the world (Hegel), among other definitions. How did it serve me today?

Since the 20th century, rationality is technical or technological and we are submitted to machines and algorithms. All other fields and walks of life evolve and revolve around infotech and biotech with a progressive absence of critical thinking. I love the Kantian project and I believe Kant is one of the biggest philosophers ever, but we are more emotional and practical beings than highly rational. How can the critical thinking “function” with the massive amount of news and fake news by the minute?

What can I know?

Everything and nothing thanks to social media. It all depends on how we use this tool to our full potential. Potential can differ from one person to another; however technology can be a wonderful tool to learn new skills and to be updated.

What ought I to do?

Other than surviving on all levels, I think ethics are the name of the game for the present and the future. It lies on freedom and courage to step forward and be responsible for the whole world.

What may I hope for?

That’s the most difficult question especially today when the world is stuck between the pandemics and the economy crisis. I think by willing to be flexible and accepting that change is inevitable, by willing to work differently and having a new perspective on life, can we hope for a better future.

The fascination of bats

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painting by Albrecht Durer 

Bats are peculiar creatures, a strange hybrid between a mouse or a fox and a bird. The flying freak sleeps upside down during daytime and gets active during nighttime. There is no doubt this animal was, and stills the object of many fantasies. Therefore what are the main fantasies on bats?

In Biblical tradition, bats were believed to be messengers of Satan.  The Puritans believed that if a bat flew close to someone, somebody was trying to bewitch them. This is the reason why one might see bats sculptures on the outer walls of Gothic churches in Europe.

In 1897, Bram Stoker wrote his Gothic novel Dracula, introducing the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. Stoker was inspired by European myths about vampires and some types of bats that solely drink blood. Dracula inspired more fiction about bat behavior like vampires. The success perpetuated the fantasy and the fascination of bats.

Then in 1939, the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger created Batman, a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books. Originally named the “Bat-Man,” the character is also referred to as the Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, and the World’s Greatest Detective. Unlike Dracula and the common idea of bats, Batman is a hero fighting criminals and bringing justice to the world.

Just to name these examples among many others, bats became a narrative symbol in our subconscious mind, explaining both fear and fascination of these creatures. It pushed more and more people around the globe to approach bats, studying them, domesticating them, killing them or even eating them. To Chinese, bats are a symbol of happiness!

A bat is an infected animal but due to its immune system it can live with viruses. SARS, MERS, COVID19 are said to have been transferred to humans from bats because of human interactions with them.

A bat, like any other creature, is crucial to the environment equilibrium. We should save bats by letting them be in the wild. Don’t hug a bat, don’t kill it, don’t eat it, and don’t get close to it.

Can we leave bats alone?

 

 

The sacrificial creativity: the misconception of creativity in the modern world

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fixthephoto.com

During lockdown, there was a massive pressure on people to be creative since time is the thing we needed to kill. While this is not a bad idea and creativity is thrived in moments of silence and slowness, the whole marketed creativity was more perceived as an obligation. However, creativity is not an obligation. What is creativity then?

Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. It is the synonym of originality, inventiveness, progressiveness, imagination.

Consequently, there are two main goals to creativity: aesthetics and necessity. For the latter, creativity is essentially an obligation and that’s how humans evolved and survived as specie. But for aesthetics and intellectual pleasure how can creativity become an obligation? It is almost a paradox. Therefore where did conception come from?

In ancient times, creativity was never an issue except for poets who were inspired by muses. There was a natural way to let creativity develop by simply letting it be. It was more like a dance with creativity whenever anyone was inspired. Nature is creativity without an issue, hence the peaceful relationship humans had with it.

In modern times, since the 17th century, a man was defined as a free conscience being in total mastery of his own thoughts and actions. Creativity started to be an issue because it had to me mastered and under the command of the ego. Then a person had to be creative. The relationship to creativity became a struggle, pushing artists to sacrifices and artificial ways to reach it. Most artists still beat themselves up to create something. How many artists did commit suicide? How many others were/are addicted?

Forced creativity and commercialization of art in general turned creativity into an obligation and a burden.  As Nietzsche said it once:

I want to know whether you are a person devoted to creating or to exchanging in some respect or other: as a creator you belong to the free, as an exchanger you are their slave and instrument.

A different definition of writing

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Writing is not only about expressing ideas or telling a story. Whereas the aforementioned is true, writing goes beyond this, even for philosophy writing too.

How can writing be defined?

Writing is about creating moments. A moment is created when meeting a person, an event, an idea even if it is an internal subjective one. It’s like being hooked and digging deeper. Writing is about the perpetuation of that moment, which can go through fluctuations along the writing exercice.

On parallel, the reader will be hooked on that moment and will go through fluctuations as well. Being emotional or rational, or both ideally, the fluctuation of both the writer and the reader, will propel them into the ongoing moment crafted by writing.

That moment is like a runway show: colours, shapes, emotions, concepts, themes will showcase for the writer and the reader. Often, the writer is hooked but not the reader; maybe a different reader would be. That’s the risk of creativity specially in writing.

The worse kind of writing is the one that stops the moment. Or the one that doesn’t create any moment. The writing that doesn’t pick up what’s left and go further with it, is the kind of forgotten books shortly after reading them.

Writing means a constant search for the upcoming word and idea.

Meeting a new “other”, might be a person or a place, an idea or a picture, an event or a book etc., is the ultimate goal of a writer.

If not, what would writing be?

My life this week in 2020 the year of change

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photo by unsplash.com

The country is shut down due to the corona tsunami and people remain home. For me, it was a new experience as i am teaching online. I hate corona but i am loving this online job experience. However, being locked down, I couldn’t help but wonder about the year 2020.

For those who follow my blog, they know that starting october 2019, we have been on a long revolution against corruption and injustice. So on a shaky land we entered 2020 that hit us with more turmoils and with corona. Horrible as it is, we must look at the bigger picture. 2020 is the year of battles and change; which logically leads to the desire of change or to resistance because of fear. I feel it is a turning point: there is before and after 2020. The decade sounds revolutionary on all levels.

Corona, floods, earthquakes, protests, climate change and more demand responsibility and collective consciousness. It demands awareness and redifinition of oneself, of social structures, of relationships, of politics, of economics. Basically it demands form each one of us a choice and a role. Speaking of Corona: movies, tedtalks, conferences predicted the outbreak of a similar virus. We listened but we didn’t get ready for it. Now that the outbreak is here, what am I going to do? How to deal with others? Who am I and what are my deepest desires? The natural incidents I mentioned indicate the redifinition of the earth itself.

2020 is the year of big lessons in life. Incidents will force us to retrieve into ourselves and connect on a deeper level with our fears and desires. It is the year that must teach us to let go of the past and start fresh new, both on individual and collective levels.

So yes there is fear and loneliness. There is a resistance to change. But do we have a choice other than love and flexibility? I don’t think we do.

 

Why current educational systems will not work for too long

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photo by mybancroftnow.com

At least for the last century, educational systems around the world followed (and still do) a logical structuralist approach in their teaching methods, with little differences from one country to another. However, with the internet and streaming era, I wonder how long the current educational systems in the world would last.

Let’s dig slightly into these two fields.

Structuralism, in it general definition, is the methodology that implies elements of human culture to be understood by way of their relation to a broader, overarching system of structure. It works to undercover the structures that underlie all the things that humans do, think, perceive and feel. The impact of this system of education was and still powerful because it is the direct representative of the the political and economical “overarching system of structure”. In other words, a child is sent to school to become a citizen, a worker and a consumerist. With an efficient logic in its core, the current educational system turned the world population today into indebted clients bingeing on sugar with and increase rate of unemployment; worse as Hannah Arendt said once “a society of workers without work”.

On the other hand, internet is an algorithmic web. An algorithm is a detailed series of instructions for carrying out an operation or sovlving a problem. In a non-technical approach, we use algorithms in everyday tasks. As you can see, since it is non-technical, algorithmic process is different from efficient technical logical one.

Many questions are asked or should be asked: will we write the same way? Do we teach the same disciplines? Don’t we need to change our thinking schemes?

 

The correlation between epidemics and turmoils. A brief history review

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Manmade or nature made, viruses and epidemics have always existed in times of political turmoils. Is it a pure coincidence or is it planned by nature/God/universal forces? Here are some of the deadliest epidemics that shaped human history.

The Plague of Athens devastated Athens during the second year of the Peloponnesian War (430 BC), killing an estimated 75000 to 100000 people. Another plague was the Roman Plague or the Antonine plague (165-180 AD) which had severely affected Indo-Roman trade relations in the Indian Ocean and devestated the Roman Empire. The total deaths have been estimated at five million.

The Black Plague hit Europe and a part of Asia in the mid-14th century and was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history, killing seventy five to two hundred million people. the plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history.

Fast forward many centuries later, the 20th century had its unfortunate epidemics such as the Spanish Flu (1918-1920). The death toll is estimated at around 100 million. The WWI played a big role in maintaining the disease for that long.

Then came Bird Flu, Sars, Mers, Ebola …. and now Corona.

Aren’t we responsible somehow for all this? If not created by men, isn’t it nature trying to get rid of us due to what we have been doing? This picture below taken by the NASA speaks better than I do:

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Parasite. The movie

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It’s the endless story of the battle of the poor; but this time not against the rich. It’s the mentality of being a parasite, living off others’ goods.

This movie shuts down many clichés we know: rich are bad, poor are good. By the end of it, one can’t tell who is bad and who is good. These values as depicted in the movie depend on situations. Life throws all characters in situations where each one has to choose the least evil. That being said, it is realistic and so is the description of the ways of being and thingking of both the rich and the poor.

Alongside the smooth storytelling, interrupted by surprising elements, and the filming itself, this movie deserves all the awards it got. It is the story of the less than ordinary brought to amplifications for the best and the worst.

It is a very good movie, but not for the faint at hearts.

I am a Xennial and multitasking is my game

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photo by retrojunk.com

I am a Xennial and below are the characteristics of Xennials found a bit everywhere on the net. Somehow true, they don’t tell the real difference between Xennials and the other generations.

Xennials  are the micro-generation of people on the cusp of the Generation X and Millennial demographic cohorts, typically born between 1977 and 1985. Xennials are described as having had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood.

Childhood in the 80s was internet free, playing outside and eating sugary food. Back then, an old person playing with kids was not referred to as a pedophile. Back then, we looked cool with our Walkmans.

Adolescence in the 90s was about CDs (played sometimes backwards to listen to satanic messages? funny!) Internet came out few years laters and addiction to chatting in chatrooms for hours! Cell phones were invented but calling friends on landlines.

That was long before social media, sexting, Facebook, massive communication and shame viral bullying.

The transition to social media and the digital era was smooth.

Anna Garvey in her article The Oregon Trail Generation: Life before and after Mainstream Tech. (Social Media Week) has described these individuals as having “both a healthy portion of Gen X grunge cynicism, and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials”.

These descriptions are all secondary.

What is essential about Xennials is their ambition and their multitasking abilities. This is the fundamental personality trait of Xennials.