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Ovi Symposium; Eightieth Meeting Ovi Symposium; Eightieth Meeting
by The Ovi Symposium
2017-05-16 10:42:23
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Ovi Symposium:

“A Philosophical Conversation on the Nature of Art within Modernity
and the Envisioning of a New Humanism”

Between Professors Emanuel Paparella, Ernesto Paolozzi, Michael Newman and Azly Rahman
Eightieth Meeting: 15 May 2017

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Symposium's regular participants

papDr. Emanuel Paparella has a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism with a dissertation on Giambattista Vico from Yale University. He currently teaches philosophy at Barry University and Broward College in Florida, USA. One of his books is titled Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of G. Vico, Mellen Press. His latest e-book Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers was printed in Ovi magazine in June 2013.

 

enDr.Ernesto Paolozzi teaches history of contemporary philosophy at the University Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples. A Croce scholar and an expert on historicism, he has written widely and published several books, especially on aesthetics and liberalism vis a vis science. His book Benedetto Croce: The Philosophy of History and the Duty of Freedom was printed as an e-book in Ovi magazine in June 2013.

newmanProf. Michael Newman received his Master’s of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Eastern Michigan University.  He discovered his love for teaching English as a Second Language while living abroad. He moved to South Florida and began his journey for a tenure track position at Broward College where he has recently earned a tenured position teaching English for Academic Purposes.  Another great passion of his is that of philosophical writing and discussion.  

azlyDr. Azly Rahman holds a doctorate in International Education Development from Columbia University, and multiple Masters Degrees in the fields of International Affairs, Peace Studies, Communication, and Education. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. He has edited and authored seven books. He resides in the US where he teaches courses in Education, Philosophy, Cultural and American Studies, and Political Science. His interest in research and writing lies in the cultural interplay between Cybernetics, Hegemony, and Existentialism.

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Subtheme of session 80: The Archetype of the Journey within World Cultures

Indirect Participants within the Great Imaginary Conversation across the ages: Vico, Zichichi, Epemenides, Whitehead, Russell, Galileo, Hawking, Descartes, Pascal, Einstein, Sagan, Augustine, Aquinas, Frost, Gilkey, Paz, Schumacher, Camus, Kant, Dostoyevsky, Dante, Chomsky, Said, Sartre, Kafka, King, Jameson.

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Coordinator’s Preamble to the 80th Meeting

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We have chosen as the controlling metaphor of this 80th meeting of the Ovi Symposium (now in its fourth year), the journey as representative of a universal archetype of the human condition that in some way controls the very meaning of being and existence. It is found universally in all the myriad historical cultures of the world. In the West we could begin with Homer’s Odyssey all the way to Dante’s Divine Comedy (which begins with the verse “In the middle of the journey of our lives…”) and Pilgrim’s Progress and Vico’s progression from the era of the gods, the era of the heroes, to the era of men.

The three presentations below, in various ways personal, will furnish the readers with an idea of how this archetype functions within one’s personal history, universal historical progress, society and language. The readers will be taken aboard some imaginative journeys of the mind to kindle anew the curiosity of finding the very meaning of one’s life and indeed of human destiny. We hope that the reading will be profitable as well as enjoyable. It would be well to keep in mind that often it is not the destination that is the most important thing in a journey, but the journey itself. 

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Table of Contents for the 80th Session of the Ovi Symposium

First Presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella: “The Journey Archetype and Vico’s Historical   Consciousness”

Second Presentation by Michael Newman: “The Journey to Freedom”

Third Presentation by Azly Rahman: “On the Idea of Freedom and the Linguistic Sensibility”

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I

The Journey’s Archetype and Vico’s Historical Consciousness
A Presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella

To understand anything about Vico’s philosophy of the imagination one has to explore the archetype of the journey, that is to say, attempt a journey into Vico’s mind.  I’d like to begin with an experience from my own intellectual life: that of a long journey on a train and the reflections it engendered.

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The train’s journey began from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, bound for New Haven, Connecticut. It was the summer of 1991 and I was returning to Yale University for a visit and consultation with a fellow-alumnus and dear friend of mine. My mother, visiting from Italy, was traveling with me. She was reading an Italian magazine titled Gente, a popular magazine similar to our People. Glancing over to the magazine I was struck by the title of the piece she was reading: “Let us discover the foundations of human knowledge.”  The author was a scientist, a popularizer of science in Italy, by the name of Antonino Zichichi.

My curiosity aroused I began to wonder how the author had simplified to a single page the long arduous journey of mankind’s acquisition of knowledge. To accomplish that kind of simplification one has to be either a genius or by a charlatan. Which was Zichichi? When my mother had finished her reading I borrowed the magazine and read the article which (as translated from the original Italian) began thus: “Our intellectual history is based on three pillars: language, logic, and science.” This bold statement further increased my curiosity. I kept reading. Zichichi explained that each one of these three pillars were discovered at a particular time of human history and was contingent on certain human needs: language on the need to communicate; philosophic logic on the need to think correctly and clearly; science, the last intellectual discovery, on the need to know whether or not nature derived from chaos or precise universal laws. This began to sound like good old positivism to my philosophical ears.

It was further elaborated that language naturally follows gesticulation and that it is very difficult for us to know when and how it originated. On the other hand, written languages are better preserved and therefore easier to trace. The beginning of logical thinking is traced back to ancient Greece and one particular philosopher, Epemenides, the first to point out the ambiguity of language as such with his famous paradox: “I am a Cretan and must tell you that all Cretans are liars.” Subsequent to this rather rudimentary linguistic logic we reach the most rigorous of logic, mathematics, identified as such because there language is substituted by precise formulas yielding less ambiguity. The culmination of this mode of thinking is seen in Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica written at the beginning of the 20th century.

Finally Zichichi comes to the last great intellectual discovery, science. He traces its origins to Galileo who is the first to point out that our surrounding reality has its own rigorous logic, that there are out there fundamental natural laws discoverable by Man’s intellect. They apply to the individual atom as well as to the totality of the cosmos. The article’s bold conclusion is that Galileo’s old dream of explaining the universe by discovering its laws has almost come to pass thanks to the unified theory of theoretical physics. In other words, mankind is on the brink of proving that all scientific laws derive from one and only one fundamental cosmological force. The article final punch line is the following: “Were it not for science, language and philosophical logic would appear as intellectual tools outside of the grand design and therefore in the final analysis, useless.”

Wow! We should keep in mind that this is a popular article by a scientist for laymen; as such it reveals better than a technical scientific paper, a mind-set at work. The article took fifteen minutes to read but it kept me musing for several hours as the train made its way through Georgia, the Carolinas and Pennsylvania. It occurred to me that the train on which I found myself with my mother, could be an apt metaphor for humanity’s journey toward some kind of destination through space and time. Obviously man has not made the universe, yet modern physicists inform us that it is expanding at tremendous speed on a journey toward a not yet perceivable destination, to wit Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and the effort to understand the origins of the universe by replicating the big bang with atom smashers.

In the second place, it dawned on me that this article exemplified and confirmed the sheer hubris of the positivistic scientific mentality, alive and well in modern and post-modern times. This mind-set, invariably, ends up assigning to science a privileged position within the world of human knowledge, for it sees science as the logical culmination of knowledge’s  evolution in human history. At best, the humanities are seen as precursors, by now deemed passé if not outright superfluous.

What is at work in this paradigm of knowledge is the Cartesian scheme of reality. Science proper is made to begin with Galileo and Newton. In fact in the above described popular article the intellectual phenomena present at the very origins of mankind are all conspicuously absent. I mean phenomena such as: myth making, poetic wisdom, primitive art, ritual, drama, religion; all phenomena which for early Man were a valid way of knowing the surrounding reality.

Most glaringly absent is intuitive knowledge, widely validated not only by poets and philosophers but also by scientists of the caliber of Pascal and Einstein; a kind of knowledge yielding the direct perception of truth without a logical reasoning process; in other words a pure gift consistently debunked in our rationalistic Western civilization since the Enlightenment. To my mind, the greatest omission of all is the concept of self-knowledge, so important for the ancient Greeks who considered it nothing less than the beginning of wisdom.

Indeed, what this “enlightened” mind-set seems unable to conceive, or at the very least intuit, is that language, logic, science are potentially present from the very beginning of a human culture once Man is conceived as the seeker, the discoverer, the maker of meaning in history; which is to say that Man is his own history.

For that kind of analysis we need to turn to Vico who is none other than the father of modern historicism. It is astonishing that Zichichi does not as much as mention Vico’s concept of “poetic wisdom” or of imagination as integral part of the quest for knowledge. He cannot do so because he is exclusively interested in proving a geometric hierarchical progression from what is purported to be most primitive and particular to what is asserted to be most sophisticated, universal and valuable, namely science. 

The bias in favor of science and against humanistic modes of thought is in line with the Cartesian paradigm which cavalierly dispenses with the humanities—i.e., disciplines such as rhetoric, myth, poetry, religion—as being too inaccurate and not “scientific” enough, while privileging geometrical abstract reasoning; a kind of reasoning leading to “clear and distinct” ideas and ending up in radical skepticism as the ultimate triumphal stance of enlightened reason.

It is indeed intriguing but not too surprising that Zichichi’s article concludes that language and even logic are not only inferior but quite useless unless seen as the underpinning for science. Indeed, the Cartesian mind-set not only conceives the “progress” of human knowledge toward science as inevitable, but it ends up condemning religion and the whole world of “I-Thou” as regressive and obscurantist. One has only to remember Voltaire’s adversarial relationship toward medievalism in general (which he contemptuously called “the gothic”), and Dante in particular. A bit closer to our times, we have scientists such as Carl Sagan representing the “enlightened” modern intellectual stance, ever ready to debunk the mysterious within the universe, and even imply, as he does in the introduction to the above mentioned book by Hawking, that God is quite superfluous for science and the sustenance of the cosmos, even as a mere idea.

Due to this privileging of the Cartesian rationalistic paradigm of reality, Vico’s speculation—based on an imaginative conception of human origins and development, and always attentive to the particular events of history—has been consistently misunderstood for more than two hundred years. However, since Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions announced that “the traditional paradigm is somehow askew,” doubts have begun to creep in about Hawking and Sagan’s “grand design” which boldly predicts that the discovering of a complete unified theory will be the equivalent to finding out the answer to why we and the universe exist. For Hawking that will constitute “the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we will know the mind of God.” Implied in such a statement, is the idea that to know the mind of God is to be god. Isn’t that the very first temptation of the Biblical Garden of Eden, the original sin of humankind?

But this god of whom Sagan and Hawking speak has little to do with the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob existentially addressing individuals and people. Rather, this is the god of Descartes, a mental construct needed to sustain one’s rational scheme. It is an idol, a mere product of one’s reason. The living God, on the other hand, speaks via symbols and can only be represented symbolically. He is transcendent, beyond the comprehension of the human mind. Paradoxically, He is also immanent and closer to us than we are to ourselves. To detach the transcendent from the immanent is to reduce him to a mental construct and end up in idolatry: the worship of one’s reason and cleverness. I suggest that such is the greatest flaw of the Enlightenment of which moderns are the proud but misguided heir.

In other words, the Enlightenment remains to be enlightened about itself. When it finally does it will come to the realization that if reason is made into a god of sort, then, far from taking us beyond ourselves (as it did with St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas) it can degrade and dehumanize us; make us rationalists rationalizing what ought never be rationalized. Most of the Nazis who planned and rationalized the Holocaust in less than two hours and executed it in less than four years sported a Ph.D. after their name. That is modern nihilism at its worst. It would have been better that such people were never “enlightened” by a school or an academy.

The dichotomy between religion and science which began some four hundred years ago  is unfortunately still with us. It can be overcome only if we allow history to function as a bridge between a science inebriated by its own accomplishments and declaring God superfluous, and a religion focusing on God’s transcendence and forgetting that He is also the lord of history. History is the needed bridge, but history needs to be understood correctly, not as mere chronology and documentation of events, or archeology to be placed in a museum, but as something expressing the very meaning of mankind’s journey through space and time; the meaning of its destiny. That concern is by its nature religious and it has existed from the very beginning of Man’s journey, since Man has been Man. It is in fact a dimension of his nature. Were scientists able to discern things that go beyond reason they would also discern this concern in science itself.

Today’s scientific technocratic culture is of course a historical era with its own assumptions and questions on history, freedom and the future. The 19th century supreme confidence in the inevitable progress of science, practically an article of faith, has been abandoned even by most scientists. Utopia as such is dead. It died with Nietzsche and Marcuse. Two world wars, the Holocaust, the Gulags, nuclear and ecological threats producing an angst which is the result of an intuition that science and technology are ambiguous, that they create as many new dilemmas as they solve.

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St. Augustine           St. Thomas Aquinas              Rene Descartes

Some time ago a panel of Nobel Laureates brought together by the TV host David Frost discussed on TV the future of our Western civilization. What was remarkable in this discussion was the fact that most scientists came around to acknowledging what a theologian such as Langton Gilkey had previously asserted; namely that “technology by itself, or technical manipulative reason when made the exclusive form of reason and of creativity possesses a built-in element that leads to its own destruction and the eventual destruction of all it manipulates.” (See his Readings in Christian Humanism). Be that as it may, the scientists in the discussion seemed unable to go beyond the logistics of solving a problem such as hunger and destitution in the world. They thought it was eminently solvable by science and technology.

It took a humanist, Octavio Paz, a Nobel prize winner for literature, to point out that the problem was one of dehumanization; that to know that two children die of starvation every minute of every day, and that we have the technological know-how to solve the problem, and yet fail to solve it while continuing to spend one million dollar a minute on arms, is in effect to dehumanize ourselves. Paz pointed out that such is not a scientific problem that science can solve but a human problem that Man must solve by assuming responsibility for his own humanity.

And so we are back to the ancient questions: What does it mean to be human? How do we live a human life? These are questions that may be created by science but cannot be answered by science. When E.F. Schumacher pointed out in his Small is Beautiful that “In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man,” he was pointing to a kind of spiritual hunger and squalor that no technology can resolve.

Indeed the question "What is humanity?" cannot be answered objectively by science, for the essential phenomena constituting humanity refuse to submit to the methods of investigation applied by science to inanimate objects. Yet science since the 19th century has attempted to reduce humanity to a sort of physics of living matter. It has in fact attempted to project a picture of humanity based on its own presuppositions. Take molecular biology, it tries to convince us that an a priori probability that among all possible events in the universe one special event—human development—should take place, is very miniscule. We are humans by a mere lucky chance, the product of some kind of accident on the edge of the universe. There is no purpose or destiny. We are projected into being by pure chance. This view begs the question: what is the source here for the choices which gave us a Sistine Chapel or a Commedia? On the thematic horizon of the above picture of humanity this question cannot even be asked because humanity itself is simply left out of its consideration.

Another example is the illusion of some scientists that the essence of humanity is objectifiable and can be described by assembling empirical data. In searching for a new and comprehensive science of humanity, these scientists believe they can construct a sort of universal anthropology by interrelating disciplines such as cybernetics, brain behavior, theory of information, ecology, etc. This is another mistake of the scientific mind-set. Convictions about humanity must be derived from sources other than science. Kuhn has demonstrated that there is always at work an a priori scheme, or paradigm which interprets the individual facts as discovered by science. To go back to the example of molecular biology, if one examines the belief system of those proposing it as a valid theory of human life, one would invariably discover that they generally hold with Albert Camus the belief that ours is an absurd Sysyphus-like existence. What the findings of molecular biology do is merely provide for them confirmatory confirmations. Which is to say that their convictions precede the empirical components of their view of humanity.

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I must also mention here briefly that nobody has shown more acutely than Immanuel Kant in his Critique of Practical Reason how impossible it is to treat humans as things to be investigated in objectifying mode. Kant finds the uniqueness of humanity in the fact that it cannot be grasped by a mere theory of knowledge. That uniqueness is freedom. For him causality is a category operative in the act of understanding. In other words, an uncaused event is inconceivable. We do violence to human nature when we treat people as calculable objects thus ruling out their freedom. Indeed Dostoyevsky said as much in his Notes from Underground when he pointed out if man were placed in an utterly deterministic universe he would probably blow it up simply to prove his freedom.

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We have examined the historical consciousness and have delved into the problem of freedom at the outset to broach a methodological problem that cannot be evaded in exploring man’s identity. For, if freedom is indeed an essential component of human existence, its nature cannot be grasped objectively, according to a method that is rightly used with things in physics or biology. Freedom is not a subject of knowledge in this sense. We humans may know it only non-objectively, in direct experience of the Self. In other words, for Man to fully understand himself, he must understand correctly what history is. History is the rails on which the train of man’s journey travels.  That was the lifelong preoccupation of Giambattista Vico as expressed in his New Science.

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II

The Journey to Freedom
A presentation by Michael Newman 

As Dr. Paparella has mentioned, humans always desire to have their freedom.  It is something that has struck me through the years, as I have often observed this phenomenon.  It appears to be a deep part of who we are.  I was first introduced to it in the story of the first person created by God.  Adam, in the garden of Eden, wanted freedom.   In his case, it was the freedom to choose between good and evil, first by knowing it, and then by choosing it, and so he ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge.  That disobedience was condemned to death.

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Adam and Eve Eating the Forbidden Fruit by Rubens

There was a lesson there for us.  What were we to do?  Not seek freedom!  Instead the answer was found in Micah 6:8 which reads, “…(W)hat doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?”  So we are walking humbly, along a road, on a path, on a journey, towards …heaven?  Dante was traveling along the middle of his journey in life when he found himself lost, and it brings to mind Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress, who encountered many troubles on his way to the Celestial City.  Which leads us to a question:  are we on a road to somewhere pre-determined?  Or are we just on a journey, meandering through life that goes nowhere?  Or do we have the freedom in our journey to choose where we are going?

For years I thought I was on a road to the Celestial City (heaven), and that everything I did brought me closer to there.  Interestingly enough, even though I chose the path and the destination, ultimately, it was others who defined that for me.  Whether I chose to believe my parents, or the teachings of the Bible, or of a pastor, typically there was someone who told me what I should think, say or do to stay on God's road to the Celestial City.  As a result, I did not feel the freedom to make my own path, nor write my own destiny.  Now, as I have experienced more of life, I’m much less convinced that the Celestial City is waiting at the end, since that is a specifically Christian heaven.

I wonder about other faiths that are not Christian, including Judaism and Islam. Is heaven waiting for those followers too?  What about Buddhists or atheists?  Where are they headed?

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Christian on his way to the Celestial City

And what if you change religions during your life?  What if you are just agnostic?  How do these different faiths affect you, your journey and your destination?  Is the destination a positive one? Perhaps, as asserted by Hegel, we should not seek our own individual freedom, but seek the total good of all mankind.  Perhaps that would give us a worthy destination.  One understanding of Hegel’s view is that the individuals do not matter, but that the outcome of harmony and fulfillment of all of them do.  This thought of a utopia is wonderful, except that it has yet to be realized.  In fact, many modern books and movies love to suggest we may be moving towards a dystopia, rather than a utopia. Serenity and Elysium are some movies that portray that kind of world. And interestingly enough, in those stories, there is usually a hero, on his own journey, with his own choice, with his own freedom to write a new ending.  One that is unknown, yet uniquely his own.  It is his freedom that we see as the inspiration to write our own hero story.

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Like the heroes in our stories, our personal journeys are our own, though perhaps with no rhyme or reason to them.  So many people don’t think about their own journey and where they are going.  I recall hearing a joke when Facebook was first saturating so much of our lives.  “I used to wonder what it would be like to know what everyone was thinking.  Then I got Facebook.  I’m over that now.”  Perhaps many feel, as I did, that they don’t have a choice in the matter.  So, it seems befitting to ask, do we have the freedom to give our lives rhyme and reason?  Indeed, in the phrase "rhyme and reason” I believe we can find the needs we each have in our own life on our own journey.

We need to a reason to live.  We see this need in young people, as they try to understand their place in the universe, and what life they want to have, even though they often have no idea of what the road ahead holds.  We see this in middle aged people, when they hit a mid-life crisis, and wonder what meaning their lives have and are they making a difference in the world.  We see this in some old people who when they retire, and the children are gone, no longer see a reason to live.  In all these cases, oftentimes the reasons people had for their own lives was determined by religion or parents, or some other person in authority.  We need to see that we have the freedom to make our own choices on our own path.  By owning those choices, we can freely move our own lives in a direction of our own choosing. And that destination doesn’t have to be the Celestial City.

The other half of the phrase is rhyme.  I believe this metaphorically speaks to the beautiful, to the moving, to the art, that we have in life.  Those who appreciate the arts know, that in this, we also have freedom.  Some people enjoy singing, some people enjoy dancing, some people enjoy paintings, while others enjoy sculpture.  We can choose the art we wish to enjoy in our lives. Hopefully, we even find an art that we can create in and spread our message and learning to others.  We have freedom to discover beauty along the way, to enjoy it, and to create it.

By balancing the rhyme and reason in our lives, we make our path better.  And our impact beyond ourselves, is when we impart these lessons to others.  Indeed, is this not one of the goals of this symposium?  So, can you actually write your own destiny?  Can you change the world?  I believe the answer to these questions is a resounding yes!  The how of it becomes a topic for another day.

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III

 On the Idea of Freedom and the Linguistic Sensibility
A Presentation by Azly Rahman

For this month’s forum, I wish to present a note on the non-Cartesian idea of language as it is conceived in the realm of metaphysical – in the world of private language or even inner language shaping inner sensibility.

The idea of freedom is also linked to the idea of the prison house of language; between the ambiguity of communicating and reflecting, between being free without language and being shackled by it.

My thoughts on this are as follow: Language, when used in the public sphere becomes a game and a problematic one -- the only true communication resides in "private language" where thoughts reign more supreme than utterances. Precise communication is impossible as thoughts themselves are ephemeral, transient, and consists of data whose fate is entropy. The creation of the alphabet was a historical mistake, just like the emergence of the modern state and the emergence of the first hamburger stand (McDonalds) in post-war America. Miscommunication throughout the history of human existence has brought about endless conflicts, wars, competition, etc. The advent and primacy and then supremacy of computer language is the capstone to these forms of miscommunications. Human beings were meant to be beings communicating via telepathic means in a language-less environment.

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The idea that language makes us more intelligent than other species could have been the most misguided philosophy of being and becomingness. There could be other forms of beings more intelligent than us we are attempting to communicate with throughout the centuries but we fail to make such a connection because our communication system (i.e. alphabet, speech) is still too primitive to be understood by these more intelligent beings.

And in the notion of the Messiah's Second Coming is not on a white horse wielding sword to establish this Kingdom of God but more sophisticated than this... on a spacecraft more advanced than Spaceship Enterprise establishing a World Government by disciplining NATO and scolding NAFTA, and chairing WTO (World Trade Organization). Can we be free if we conceive living as merely about building consensus alone? In the process of communicating as human beings and arriving at consensus-building, who gets dispossessed and who gets to win in this game of power using language and speech as means to gatekeep?

Language and speech is infiltrated with discourse of power to the extent that this process has matured to such a stage of sophistication that it is no longer easy to discern truth and propaganda. Noam Chomsky in works such as The Real Terror Network, Manufacturing Consent, and dozens of others, tried to address this sophistication in the latter part of his struggle to help identify the gatekeeping aspects of language and the propagandizing nature of communication.

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Edward Said in Orientalism helped define what perception means and how, in the case of the Western mind's (the colonial's essentially) conception of the Orient, much of what is involved is the idea of power and powerlessness. The Orient is conceived, analyzed, and the knowledge of it propagated from a Eurocentric point of view and hence, the production of knowledge and understanding of it as well as the construction of the sociology of knowledge out of this enterprise --all these are essentially rooted in the retrogressive dimensions of language and communication.

The process of "Othering" is skillfully crafted over the centuries of knowledge-building. Essentially then, language and speech is the dualism of oppression though the common belief is that it is liberating. How can one deny that it is liberating when we use language to release constructs/people/institutions from the shackles of domination?  But think again: the release is from the frying pan into the fire---from one conception of freedom to another. And this conception of freedom means the freedom to be released into this "Material world"--a world of things and a world in which one is "to be a to become in a being-in-this-world (Sartrean) context.

So how can language and speech not be shackling---whatever language and speech system one is in? The word system itself, employed to describe this strange transformation of the sound and the alphabet--- is shackling. Imagine this: We are systematically systemized into this systems of systemic change in such as systematic way that we become systemized into this whole construct called systems!

And this is the language system--the prison house. Imagine a world without language and the meaning of redemption which may arise out of it. Where do we go from here if we are to make sense of what a first step is in understanding our role as makers of history? In brief this means to be and become a member of society whom possesses the sense of critical sensibility to analyze society both through the inner dialogue and outer speech, so that society becomes text to be textually analyzed. This is an early stage of become a postmodern flaneur.

This stage involves one's critical evaluation and judgement of the forces which are dehumanizing; the structural violence which are operating at the various levels of consciousness and linguistic representations. By this we mean the signs and symbols around us, the sight, the sound the taste, the smell, the individuals, the community, the institution, the ideology, the myth and ritual, the opiate of the masses, the prosaic of the post-industrial tribes, etc. etc.

By postmodern I mean the condition of unresolved modernity as what Frederic Jameson might urge us to create a social cartography out of it. By postmodern I mean the condition of "reflexivity", the waning of affect, the loss of critical sensibility, the withering of creative faculties within us, the death of the inner subjectivity within us, the relativizing of the absolute, the rationalizing of structural and physical violence, and the Pokemani-zation of this land of the free.

By flaneur I mean the sense of being an "outsider" a "tourist" an "ugly-American-of-the-60s-Peace Corps-type-in-Thailand" attitude (an honorable term here..) who are in the society yet outside, who are part of it but is a point of departure in him/her/it/self, who is part of the cognitive and physical aspect of the institution he/she/it is in but emotionally detached and observant, who is not easily sucked into the metaphysics of materialism and masochism of ideologies, and who essentially looks at society like a crystal ball.

The postmodern flaneur is like Franz Kafka's hunger artist; those who are happily consuming and being consumed by the consumerist society will see him/her/it suffering, yet his logic is devastatingly profound. The posmo-flan (the postmodern flaneur) is a creature who cannot enjoy television shows, commercial movies like Mulan and Fantasia, cannot be at fashion shows, gets dizzy when watching Wheel of Fortune or The 64,000-Dollar-Question, hates Republicans and Democrats, counsels the Arawak Indians, laments the loss of Vietnam Era and is still angry at Senator McCarthy, believed that Elvis Presley should have joined the Black Panthers (like Younger Brother in Ragtime who joined Coleman Walkers) so that he can help gyrate us through the much needed revolution, and the posmo-flana writes to his/her/its local phone company telling then that a percentage of this month's payment is withheld because he/she/it is doesn't want the pennies to go into financing the war in some Banana Republic the U.S. Army is currently helping to install democracy.

So, this creature call posmo-flan is an outcast who will be found in academia essentially and even if it is found in the corporate sector, will eventually will be the one who will start a new Internet start-up company and retire after five years to devote his/her/its time in some ashram in California.

But on a more serious note, the posmo-flan creature is one who is never in conflict with himself/herself/itself because the critical sensibility within has provided the means to happiness. Then comes the next stage in the life of the postmodern flaneur ... the beauty of praxis. As a child, the postmodern flaneur has already exhibited some characteristics which are both constructive and destructive... in-between the continuum of an idiot savant and a rocket scientist. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of three root causes of violence: racism, materialism, and militarism.

They are all in our consciousness in one form or another at different levels of consciousness. They are now present in the most subtle forms rendering the oppressor and the oppressed shackled and objectified as well as making us, as John pointed out, as "puppets" rather than "actors" as the makers of our own history. But what are our agenda and the nature of social cartography we are to manifest in our consciousness first and foremost. To be a human person is to be able to name things; to name the forms of oppression we are blessed with as inroad to creativity.

We have been all along historied and socialized into forms of institutional racism, militarism, and materialism we couch and cloak with language of objectivism and through the institutions we believe "value free"---schooling, education, official knowledge, citizenship, nationhood (We must investigate what Robin Hood was struggling against)

For that matter, is race and ethnicity and one's clinging on to these relevant any longer or is it still an explosive issue which is in fact a NON-ISSUE? Is it communitarianism or cosmopolitanism? Is it fatherland or third and fourth internationalism? And that illegitimate child called nationalism and patriotism! So, is it education or liberation as agenda? And to be educated to do what and to be liberated from what?

Herein lie the Jamesonian notion of the “prison house” called language. Of which we can never be liberated from. Because we cannot escape from the reality we are in. The reality called language.

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 END  OF 80th SESSION OF THE  OVI  SYMPOSIUM (15/05/2017)

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Intro - P. 1 - P. 2 

2nd Meeting - 3rd Meeting - 4th Meeting - 5th Meeting - 6th Meeting - 7th Meeting - 8th Meeting -

9th Meeting - 10th Meting - 11th Meeting - 12th Meeting - 13th Meeting - 14th Meeting - 15th Meeting -

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58th Meeting -59th Meeting - 60th Meeting - 61st Meeting - 62nd Meeting - 63rd Meeting -

64th Meeting -65th Meeting - 66th Meeting - 67th Meeting - 68th Meeting - 69th Meeting -

70th Meeting -71st Meeting - 72nd Meeting - 73rd Meeting - 74th Meeting - 75th Meeting -

76th Meeting -77th Meeting - 78th Meeting - 79th Meeting - 80th Meeting -

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