Monday, 5 August 2013

The Last Creed

We are lucky. We live in an era of enlightenment and rationality, we left behind superstition and myths, or most of all. And we are in sight of leaving the last ones for good. After many centuries, we are able to see the real meanings behind religion stories or other anthropic compulsive behavior. Surely violence and oppression won’t be automatically eliminated, but at least we can see that the primeval forces that are pushing us to commit these crimes as the constructs of our anthropological heritage. We can pat each other on the back, we made it, the human kind is one step from understanding…Inspire and be proud.

Now, enjoy this excitement, because the next words could be something of a disappointment. In fact we are actually in a position to make even the last step, to dissolve the last myth. After the discovery that behind ethical and moral dogmas, behind superstitious and scientific explanation, we finally know that real meanings stand for something else. OK.  Well the last point is that meanings are empty. That it is our faith in giving significance that things have sense. It’s not that we attribute the wrong value or that we apply the wrong measurement. 
No, it’s different. Surely you can try to square your meanings and your habits in different ways, maybe Zeus and Ares and Aphrodite are better explained by biopolitics and natural resources needs. Sure. We are playing a game where we discover new lands. And we are very happy when a new, unchartered territory becomes available and we discharge a cascade of hermeneutics and interpretation, to find the appropriate words to describe it. And of course we deploy files of soldiers to impose our version to others. But we always forget that meanings are not there. 

Meanings are invented, fabricated by our own creativity. Out there, there is no significance. It is our will to believe that gives birth and shapes the description of things. But then we couldn’t really play with our own puppets until we know that they are our own puppets. So we need to fall in a state of oblivion and pretend that out there what we encounter has a meaning for us. Reality check means that your agency finds the friction with the real thing.

Now we are definitely experiencing pain and pleasure. When you bleed, when you are starving, yes you are really in a state of debilitation. Your brain is pushing the button: do something or we are in deep shit. But between the physical, empiric real shit and the world as we created, well there is the ocean of bullshit we told ourselves. Oh sorry, is that too crude? Let me be more French, more digestible. Between your guts and the persona that you experience to be, there is the stream of narrations that other established around you and you carved out of your biography.

So nice. So post-modern. And so poser. Because either we speak just because from morning till down if you are not chased by a predator, there is a lot of time to play with dolls. Or we really mean what we say and when we acknowledge that our signifying is empty, we have a semiotic heart attack.  

What shall we do? A classic one is to hang yourself. Seriously. That’s a good move, think to Foster Wallace or Pavese: they encountered the limits of language and they couldn’t go further with their will of significance. Interestingly no philosopher ever killed himself for this reason. The only thinkers who killed themselves are Seneca and Socrates, for exactly the opposite reason: to affirm the reality of their specific, individual, characteristic will of significance. But in all the post-modern tradition, everyone is happy and alive. 

That’s an implicit confirmation that philosophy is useless, since my lost faith in that will should entail that living and thinking is pointless. But probably a tenured chair is stronger than any disillusion. Or we can try to change the structure of significance, trying to manipulate the architecture of language. How? Well first of all dissolving distinction of structures: if society is a projection of language, then changing our metaphors is a civic campaign.
Let’s change pronouns and we will liberate women from oppression. Not convinced? Well try to subvert the system of production, the allocation of assets from the ruling class and the distribution of information that normally placates the masses. At that point your language will find new territories. Revolutions to be meaningful? Not for their sake. But if you reached the barriers of understanding, your only move is to consider it a dam. Let the meaning flow. NSA watch this!