Monday, 15 August 2016

Does reality count?

I stumbled into a very interesting article about how information technology in combination with the effects of globalization, populism and quasi-philosophy opened the doors to collective suicidal insanity and evil. A quote:

"Maurizio Ferraris, one of the founders of the New Realism movement and one of postmodernism’s most persuasive critics, argues that we are seeing the culmination of over two centuries of thinking. The Enlightenment’s original motive was to make analysis of the world possible by tearing the right to define reality away from divine authority to individual reason. Descartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ moved the seat of knowledge into the human mind. But if the only thing you can know is your mind, then, as Schopenhauer put it, ‘the world is my representation’. In the late twentieth century postmodernists went further, claiming that there is ‘nothing outside the text’, and that all our ideas about the world are inferred from the power models enforced upon us. This has led to a syllogism which Ferraris sums up as: ‘all reality is constructed by knowledge, knowledge is constructed by power, and ergo all reality is constructed by power. Thus . . . reality turns out to be a construction of power, which makes it both detestable (if by “power” we mean the Power that dominates us) and malleable (if by “power” we mean “in our power”).’"

Hence, the current rejection of facts, expertise, reality as such, the idea of truth, and the populist longing for mere 'stories' confirming individual prejudice, and the emergence of nostalgia for fake, unworkable models from history - because they are 'simpler' and cosy corners of private projections.

Are also attempts of restoring art forms to their original intentions, mere defense reactions to truth and facts? Or, in contrary, comparable to attempts to get back at truth and factual reality, like Ferraris and this New Realism movement? This is a question that has to be dealt with, to be able to distinguish the attempts at cultural renaissance from the nonsense spreading through public space..... in the end, they are both protests against 'the world as it appears to be'. The proof of the pudding is in its eating: it will be the qualities of the art works which will demonstrate reality in the context of culture. Is an existing, generally-admired work of art, say Rembrandt's 'Night Watch', mere made-up reality, because created by the artist? But certainly, it is the capacity of a work of art to move the viewer, or the listener in case of music, which counts for something. A great work of art is 'unreal' in its form, but 'real' in its contents. The artist creates his interpretation of experienced reality to say something about real reality of the human condition, which is definitely something else than populist nonsense about the world.

A very important territory to explore today, with all these shifting paradigms.

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