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DISTANCED – THUS, EXIST OR WHY DO WE BELIEVE IN LIE AND OTHER BULLSHIT?

Автор Доклада: 
J. Kovalenko
Награда: 
DISTANCED – THUS, EXIST OR WHY DO WE BELIEVE IN LIE AND OTHER BULLSHIT?

DISTANCED – THUS, EXIST OR WHY DO WE BELIEVE IN LIE AND OTHER BULLSHIT?

Julia Kovalenko, graduate student
Odessa National Polytechnic University


В статье предлагаются к осмыслению ряд современных культурных вызовов и парадоксов социального пространства: от тенденции «дистанцирования» от реальности («симптомом» чего становится наша повседневная иррациональная вера в ложь), до серьезных вызовов идентичности человека.
Ключевые слова: виртуализация, Реальность, травматический опыт, память, идентичность, субъективность, фантазм Реального.

In this article is offered to the comprehension a row of modern cultural challenges and paradoxes of the social space: from the tendency to "distancing" from the reality (the "symptom" of which is our daily irrational belief in a lie or other nonsenses) to the serious challenges to identity of the person.
Keywords: virtualization, Reality, traumatic experience, memory, identity, subjectivity, Real fantasy.

As some introduction let’s remember a film of Richard Schenkman “The man from the Earth”. The protagonist of film – scientist, Professor of the University John Oldman packs and prepares to move to a new home in other city. And on this occasion his friends gathers at a farewell party, where John makes them surprise. John tells them that he must to move on every 10 years, because in fact he is already 14000 years old and he lived during all human history. Moreover, he was not only the “watcher”, witness of history but, in sometimes, also a “chief architect”, a chief creator of history. For example, on the words of Old-man, that was him Jesus from Nazareth, it was exactly he who made a lot of scientific discoveries, he was a participant of the most important events in human history. This character is a full embodiment of human development, history as such and of objective knowledge. And it’s logically, that friend of John in beginning thinks that he just crazy, but very soon they ready to believe him, because everything, what he tells, looks like a terrible truth. Exactly “terrible” – all what says John is so contrary to established ideologies, views to the world of his friends, that they have nothing, no choices other accept panic and fear. As a result, Old-man, that to save his friends from the full collapse of all sort of habitual social order, have to say (lie), that whole his story was just a fiction. But is it deals only in unwillingness just to recognize that your worldview is wrong, error?
Let’s ask a question (even it a little bit crazy): today, when science pretends to explain almost every phenomenon in human history, in human life – why do we still continue to believe (at least deep inside us) in all sort of irrationality, in fantastic (even weird) explanations of our life, our world? Our daily life is full of these beliefs. From omens, signs and horoscopes (a lot people pedantically believes in predictions of horoscopes and every event of their life attributed with almost magical power of horoscopes – or magazines and Internet would not have been full of horoscopes), to all sort of advertisements, TV-show and politics. We are paradoxically believe in – we know and understand that we are being deceived, but still continue (deep inside us) to believe and trust. It seems like that joke, when Yuri Gagarin, after his flight into the space, meets with Nikita Khrushchev and Khrushchev asks him: “Yuri, tell me in secretly, when you were in cosmos, did you saw a God?” – “Well, actually, yes, I did saw Him” – “I knew it! But, please, don't tell it nobody else, ok?”. Then Gagarin meets with Patriarch Alexiy I and this question is repeated: “Yuri, tell me in secretly, when you were in cosmos, did you saw a God?”. Gagarin remembered his promise to Khrushchev and answers: “Well, actually, in truth - no, I did not, His is not exist there” – “I knew it! But please don't tell it nobody else, ok?”.
We often find ourselves unprepared to know the “naked truth”. We don't have to look for some subtle, special examples of it – let’s remember at least the story with publication of secret documents in “WikiLeaks”. After all, in fact, we don't learned nothing new for us from these documents – neither about politics of USA, nor about politics of some other countries. We knew very well, that, for example, United States as a superpower, wishing to stay as it, to remain in positions of leadership, could closely monitor for the administration policy of Russia or China. But when our conviction got its official confirmation we just couldn’t quite believe in it finally. It’s, rather, become looks like a plot of Hollywood spy thriller than as our reality. “This is the paradox of public space: even if everyone knows an unpleasant fact, saying it publicly changes everything” [1]. As soon as our suspicion was confirmed and publicly named as the truth, it became to seem doubtful for us. Why is this happening? Why is exactly such logic of modern social behavior?
It will be much easier to us to find the answers to these questions if we’ll turn to next one example. During an earthquake in Japan this spring, a few Russian tourists rested in Disneyland “Sea” and filmed entertaining show on camera. Throughout the time of the tremors people not only didn’t paid their attention to the earthquake, but they was sure that it’s just a part of entertainment, it’s just a new technology of the simulation [2]. In fact, even requests of administration through the loudspeaker to stay calm and don’t panic was superfluous and unnecessary – tourists was not worried and so, because they didn't want to believe in reality, validity of the earthquake. To believe that earthquake is real, and that this earthquake is suddenly burst into their usual social order; to believe that their rest turned around a life-threatening and (primarily) it is nothing depends on them already – it would be too huge strike to the psyche. Collision with the real truth - a truth that has always destroys our usual social order; this "naked truth", which is devoid of all sorts of symbolic legitimization and seductive mystique, and that's why always is shocking and makes us disgusted – is always traumatic. Thus to avoid a traumatic encounter with the real truth, the real event for tourists in Japanese Disneyland it was “easier” to believe that everything that happens - is just a part of entertaining show.
In other words, that to protect selves from traumatic blow of the reality, we have to create some different explanations for our life-events, which will becomes like some “buffer” for us, like a protective mechanism whereby we can survive through our experience of the collision with traumatic real truth. This “protective mechanism” Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, following Jacques Lacan, calls “fantasy of the Real”. By the fantasmatic perception of reality (or rather - a Real Event or Experience of Reality, i.e., that is too traumatic; that destroys the traditional social order), Zizek has in mind next: “Usually we say that we should not mistake fiction for reality (…) The lesson of psychoanalysis here is the opposite one: we should not mistake reality for fiction – we should be able to discern, in what we experience as fiction, the hard kernel of the Real which we are able to sustain only if we fictionalize it” [3, p. 19].
With help of such fantasy we are distance ourselves from the Real Event. It’s very easy to understand with example of Roberto Benigni's film “Life is beautiful”. In this film events take place during the times of Second World War. The protagonists – father and 5 years old son, - fall into the concentration camp. And for to rescue son from the death in the gas chamber father inspires to child that all this is just a big game, where one of the main rules are: to hiding from the people in uniform, don’t cry, don’t ask for anything to eat, be quiet and so on. So, with help of this fiction father gave distancing his son from the horror of camp and, literally, rescued son’s life. Or one more good example – is film of Peter Kassovitz “Jacob the liar”. This film is also devoted to the times of Second World War. Events of the plot take place in Warsaw ghetto. Wishing to make life of friends a little bit easier, to help them survive the horrors of the ghetto the main character Jacob is lying about that he has a radio and that based on the latest news, which he heard on the radio, the Russian forces are already coming to Warsaw. Such fiction inspires to people belief in rescue, “dismisses” from horrible reality, helps to legitimize and to survive through too traumatic experience of the Real Event.
So, let’s back to the fact that aspiration to explain every phenomena in human history and human life in scientific or naturalistic terms is threatens us by traumatic experience of collision with real truth. When everything is already explained, studied and know so there is no even possibility of the existence of something seductively mysterious. In words of Jean Baudrillard: “When all secrets became known (and even more than visible – embarrassingly obvious), when everything is explained, then the sky is no different from the ground” [4, с. 53]. In fact we have a deep need in secrets, mysterious – it’s an integral component of the Allurement as a cultural phenomenon, as a grounding of our society. Modern claim of the science to “declassification” of anything in the world, or in short – to deprivation of all things of their allurements or lure, in result could to lead to the total senseless, to destruction of our sphere of symbolic, of social.
It’s very possible that exactly with our mental desire to avoid a destruction of the social order are connected some mechanisms of distancing from the reality: belief in irrationality, models of simulation and Hyperreality, virtualization and so on. Because, in turning to the example about the tourists in Japanese Disneyland, in fact people were not able to distinguish reality from technologies of the simulation. They has confused a Real Event with simulation (although we can say that exactly because of this all of them survived – nobody was panicked and made some stupid things out of control, and as a result nobody was hurts and so on). But does it mean that we could to say, based on this logic, that there is no any problem? Definitely is no.
Don't want to dwell on the discussion of phenomena of the simulation and Hyperreality, it was said a lot about this by Fredric Jameson, and of course by Jean Baudrillard, and by many other researchers. What is important for us here? Modern phenomena of the simulation and Hyperreality are accompanied by our “losing of the memory”. I mean the rethinking, reinterpretation of history, changing in our attitudes to history – it’s very important indicator for us. As noticed Fredric Jameson if before we perceived our history as a dimension of the past, as a time to gain experience, then now history is representing as some «collection of images, a multitudinous photographic simulacrum» of history [5, c. 17], like slides, photo images. The perception of the historical flowing of the time was turned into the “viewing” of the historical concepts. We don't need a “real” history, it's not interesting for us already (even more – “real” history is dangerous for us, as we understood it in our reflections before). We need only the historicity, only the concept of history. That is, it’s most important for us here is that today in fact we are not interested in the “content” of history. In other words – it’s not important for us what exactly we remember, but it’s still important fact for us that we do remember something. Something like “remember – thus, exist”, but what exactly remember – no matter (that’s why discussions and provocations around topic of historical memories today – it’s one of the easiest way of political manipulations of the social consciousness).
In the movie “The man from the Earth”, which we have told about in the beginning, the main character John Oldman remembers all human history, but he couldn't remember his parents, his Father (and exactly with figure of Father, as an embodiment of authority, are related cultural system of norms and taboos, symbolic, social order in which the person lives). Instead of clearly perceive of the authority of the Father, John was able to recall only a vague blur the image. Is not this what we are experiencing today? Instead clearly (cultural) authority, instead clearly system of norms and taboos – just blurred (almost intuitively-individually) notion of the social order. Our historical “memory”, as a mechanism of legitimization of the system of norms and taboos (i.e. authority of the Father, paternal authority), has turned into modern historicity, “empty/formal memory” – that’s why we have a blurred notion, confusion of the social order. It does again return us to the necessary of the distancing from the reality. Today we must to distance ourselves from the real authority, from clear system of norms and taboos that to rescue ourselves from traumas, to save our social order from destruction. In other words, today that our system of norms and taboos continued to keep function, it must to stay in virtual form for us. It means – do not pass over the frames of the threats, do not express itself clearly: “If authority is acting too directly, it paradoxically experienced as a sign of impotence ... that admit it there is always an aspect of something ridiculous, something from a clown” [6]. Exactly the transition out of threats to realization of this threats, output abroad of virtuality of taboos could to become for us too traumatic experience of the Reality. In short, the immediate embodiment, realization of the system of norms and taboos (paradoxically) negates this system of norms and taboos.
But here lies a serious cultural challenge. John Oldman, who lived during all human history, but who didn’t remember (and it means – doesn't understand) his father, is suffering by the question “who am I?”. The virtuality of authority, of the system of norms and taboos is destroys identity of the people. This brings us to one of the most advanced and sophisticated cultural challenges - to the problem of identity.
Following psychoanalytic theory of Lacan, our identity is based on irresistible desire to get an acceptance of own I from the side of Other. That’s why figure of Other is become as an “Others scene” [7, c. 45], which “exploited” to get an acceptance of own I, for the statement of own identity, in short, for the getting feeling of harmonic unity with world. Only Other can give me a feeling of non-alienation, acceptance, involvement in the world, feeling of bridging the gap between own I and the world, between own subjectivity and the world. But if today we must to live in conditions of distancing from the reality, in conditions of virtuality of the social order, when the authority, i.e. the system of norms and taboos, becomes more and more blurred and imaginary, so where could to find a real perceiving of Other? I mean: does not visit us more often not just a question "who am I?" but also "who is he/she(/it)?"? After all, speaking in any forum in Internet, we can much more easily and quickly to get of desired acceptance of own I from the figure of Other, by the way (attention!) we have not only don’t know who exactly is behind this virtual interlocutor, but even is it a real man controls this virtual image? So, if we have a purely mechanical way to satisfy our deep desire to be acceptance by Other, then basically it becomes unnecessarily for us that behind the figure of Other was a real person.
Julia Kristeva, researching a modern problem of identity of a person, tells about a figure of a stranger, foreigner, with whom person have to encounter as soon as this person gets their subjectivity: “Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity (…) A symptom that precisely turns “we” into a problem, perhaps makes it impossible. The foreigner comes in when the consciousness of my difference arises, and he disappears when we all acknowledge ourselves as foreigners, unamenable to bonds and communities” [8, c. 7].
This refers to a permanent (fatal) sense of alienation, which connects with the subjectivity of the person. Here lies a paradox. Stranger (alienated) will always strive to overcome their alienation, i.e., to gain an acceptance of own I by Other. In other words the deep purpose of the stranger – is to get rid of the subjectivity, of what actually makes him a stranger. But exactly a subjectivity, as a component of any personality, is a basis of identity: “The particularistic trends, desire to establish itself in own relevance, opposed against the Other, identification with a group or refusing from this group are inherent to human dignity, assuming that the dignity is includes the strangeness” [8, c. 205]. In short, wishing to assert own identity, strangers or foreigner (a kind of person) will (paradoxically) to strive to destroy it, to overcome own subjectivity.
This, of course, is primarily concerned with the modern conflict between the cosmopolitanism and the nationalism in globalizing trends. National self-identification, self-determination of the person is a significant component of human identity. The refusal or blurred of national differences in favor of cosmopolitism (which directly is connecting with “formal historical memory” and virtuality of the system of norms and taboos, the virtuality of the social order) becomes as a serious step to undermine the identity of the person. While it's exactly a cosmopolitan world view is, roughly speaking, more attractive as an "Other scene" for the assertion of own identity. Such is the paradox of modernity.
What conclusion should we draw from all that we have discussed here? What exactly gives us this knowledge that our modern paradoxical logic of the social order is the formula “Distancing - thus, exist”? Today we have to distancing, to suspended from the reality (from the Real truth, from the Real Event, from the Real Experience) that to rescue or save selves from the too traumatic shock. In other hand this distancing paradoxically becomes as one of the greatest challenges to our identity. Simply speaking, it appears that we are dependent on fictions and lies, but we selves are suffering from them. If in the tendency of “declassifying” of the world, of deprivation of all things from their seductive mysterious there is lies the danger of collision with the traumatic experience of the reality, then what exactly is our desire to answer the question “who am I?”, and thereby to assert our identity? What we have to do with this implicit desire to “declassifying” selves? In the age of distancing from the Real truth and of belief in the lie and irrationality we are increasingly striving to overcome our subjectivity, estrangement. It seems that soon even just a question “who am I?” will become impossible, because it will point, as such, to the subjectivity, to the difference from the Other. In short this question just because of its existence or, rather, because of its voiced will impugn the possibility to be accepted by Other, and it means, to be unalienable from the world. The question “who am I” as such soon may become as a “source” of the traumatic experience.

References:
1. Slavoj Zizek. Wikileaks, or, When it is our duty to disturb appearances / Standpoint of the Week: The new social diversity // Global Policy forum Yaroslavl, 2011. – 2011. – February 14. (http://en.gpf-yaroslavl.ru) URL: http://en.gpf-yaroslavl.ru/viewpoint/Slavoj-Zizek-Wikileaks-or-When-it-i...
2. Никита Могутин. Землетрясение в Диснейленде засняли на видео / В России // LifeNews. – 2011. – 16 марта. (www.lifenews.ru) URL: http://www.lifenews.ru/news/53688?c=455474
3. Slavoj Zizek. Welcome to the Desert of the Real: Five Essays on September 11 and Related Dates – London: Verso, 2002 - 154 pages.
4. Жан Бодріяр. Фатальні стратегії / Переклад з фр. Леоніда Кононовича. – Львів: Кальварія, 2010. – 192 с.
5. Fredric Jameson. Postmodernism, or the cultural logic of late capitalism. – Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991. – 461 pages.
6. Славой Жижек. Реальность виртуального / Пер. с анг. А.В. Коркина, К.А. Капельчук, А.Е. Радев. – СпбГУ, 2009
7. Жак Лакан. Діалектика бажання и вимоги // Незалежний культурологічний часопис «Ї». – 2004 – № 33 (http://www.ji-magazine.lviv.ua) URL: http://www.ji.lviv.ua/n33texts/N33-erotyka.htm
8. Юлія Кристева. Самі собі чужі / Пер. З фр. З. Борисюк. – К.: Вид-во Соломії Павличко «Основи», 2004. – 262с.
 

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