Aphasia and the ultramondo

This article was published in an abridged version in La Verità on April 20, 2021 with the title "It should have opened our minds, but the Net has eliminated reality".

1.

I would come home late at night after an evening with friends. As I walked I noticed a man kneeling on the sidewalk, his forehead touching the ground. From a distance, he looked almost like a worshiper prostrate in Mecca. I walked over and saw that he was moving his head panting. I got closer and realized that he wasn't praying, but he was licking the asphalt like a starving man. He gave me a hallucinatory look. I lowered mine and walked away quickly without looking back.

2.

"The bishop's warning: saying no to the vaccine means not being a Christian".

3.

"That eyeless being sitting at the table in front had drunk it with the enthusiasm of a fanatic and would have chased, denounced and vaporized like a fury anyone who had pointed out that until the previous week the ration of chocolate had been thirty grams ".

4.

The Party told you that you should not believe either your eyes or your ears. This was the essential and definitive injunction.

***

Distant as they are, opinions can only confront each other on common ground and anchor themselves to a denominator that defines the quadrant of the battle. In boxing the contenders give them violently but they always remain between the ropes of a perimeter where the rules of victory and of the game apply to everyone. When discussing it is necessary to use a language known to the interlocutors in which a perceptive identity is coded further upstream that refers to the experience of the physical reality of oneself and not of oneself: that a dog is a dog, warm heat, the consonant other from the vowel, the white from the black, Beppe da Gino. If everyone sees it in his own way, everyone sees the same things. Interpretation belongs to the subject, perception is the postulate of the communicable which can be defined but not normed, because it would be the norm of that norm, the knowledge that precedes knowing.

The requirement of being and therefore also of its logical relations is based on the principle of non-contradiction in the sensus communis . If what is cannot but be together, then also the abstract system in which it is enunciated must admit the co-essence of every enunciated object. From the same principle comes ethics: not only with empathy, but even more by recognizing the distinction of one's neighbor, of his being other than his own ideas and needs, one can respect him and demand respect for him.

If common experience is missing, the word that describes and interprets it is missing. And if there is no word, there is no discussion. On that night many years ago I should have articulated my doubts about the healthiness of bitumen? Instead, suggest a pinzimonio, a strudel? And should I write today that the gospels do not recommend using a certain drug? No, but not for the distance of the positions. The incompatibility of domains would be more profound: in my "ring" the food categories apply to edible goods and it is Christian who believes in Christ. If we talked to each other, we would therefore be talking about different things in different languages, we would be using the same signs to describe different worlds. If it is not hinged on a common empirical graft, the pendulum does not swing and the victory can then be given only by elision of the opponent: hunt him down, denounce him and vaporize him like a fury according to the power relations of the moment, reduce him to walk away with his face down and to the aphasia of the sentence that dies in the throat.

As unpleasant as it is, conflict is the least risk. By entering into a dialectic with the foreign world, it would come true, it would be done by descending into its womb with disgust, absorbing its language and objects. This is the secret of the misunderstood "freedom" of debate that boasts today, especially on digital platforms: the belief that it consists in taking a position on the themes published on the bill, of varying on the bass dictated by the orchestra leader, of picking from a pre-printed menu. That it is to move around the "ring" without seeing its ropes and therefore without going beyond its space, so as to fix the only horizon of the experiential, and therefore of the possible. The foreign world lives on who talks about it, not how it is talked about .

***

Today it seems to some that the multitude has lost the sense of proportion, logic even arithmetic and the minimum virtues for a coexistence if not peaceful, at least possible. That she repeats with blind obsession words and apotropaic gestures until she becomes dazed, as if enchanted by a swarm of tribal drums. Many see this as a collective pathology whose symptoms they indiscriminately project, experiencing a feeling of anguish. But instead it would be necessary to circumscribe those symptoms and recognize that we still live among rational and decent people, no less than us and in any case no less than in the past, and that our fellow men still "function" in all circumstances of thought and practice except in those on which the attention of the media and their parliamentary parakeets is concentrated. The concentration of the phenomenon invites us to concentrate the analysis.

If we agree to situate the anomalous behaviors in the co-presence, and only in the co-presence, of the propaganda, the social assumptions of a "top" that exploits credit and capillarity to cultivate in the "bottom" an accomplice sharing of its objectives must be assumed . The "high" reformulates the premises and motives of those objectives so that they are realized in other ways and that the force necessary to pursue them must not result in an imposition with an uncertain outcome. Propaganda is aimed at the mass and must therefore take care that its effects are produced uniformly in the largest number of subjects. Although ephemeral in scope, its rhetorical vehicle is instead fixed in the granite of the physical and temporal consecutio , in instincts and timeless taboos. Returning to the initial question, we must therefore exclude that propaganda aspires to madness. On the contrary, it must preserve the logical and moral integrity of its target to ensure its programmability. The social clay in which the propagandist wants to sink his hands is disciplined, coherent, cohesive, participatory, empathic, altruistic. It overflows with civic sense and moral tension. She is healthy, deadly healthy.

How then can the attempt to cultivate the "good functioning" of the subjects succeed and at the same time prevent its evolving into a critique of the messages touted, of their plausibility, opportunity and decency? Precisely by intervening on the underlying experience, that is, reshaping the representations to which those qualities apply. The concept of "frame" thus takes on a more surgical meaning than the original: it does not manufacture messages, but precisely representations that catalyze reactions that have already been triggered. It does not affect interpretation, but instead works lower down on its cognitive "fuel". Advertisers set up success stories, youth and beauty stories but don't need to credit the advertised products. That connection will arise by itself, by juxtaposition of stimuli. What is usually true in true reality, that a coexistence of events implies causality, or at least compatibility, fulfills the message of the false reality. Thus the "good functioning" translated as a whole in a fictitious representation produces fictitious but in themselves credible links. In the same way, the craziest and most gruesome outcomes can be instigated by relying on the health and virtue of the subjects. Anyone wishing, let's say, to induce an aviator to bomb the neighborhoods of their loved ones or the schools of their children could, for example, reprogram their character to transform them into a perverted killer, or rather make them believe that the enemies have barricaded themselves within those walls. In the first case, assuming that he never succeeds in the enterprise, he would get an ungovernable deranged person, in the second he would instill all the patriotism, dedication and skill of the soldier in the crime. Thus the best become the worst as the best , the mildest the most unfortunate and ferocious, the automatons launched into an ultramondo that dresses the bitter in sweet, the ruin in triumph and the next in an obstacle to be overcome on the way to some salvation.

***

In 1973 Pier Paolo Pasolini very correctly denounced the centralism with which the television medium eludes physical and cultural distances in order to impose the models of the "new power" in sync and in every home. If at the time it could be defined as "authoritarian and repressive like no information medium in the world", today its paradigm has evolved into the even more extreme form of the Internet, which does not limit itself to dispensing information but also collects it, stores the thoughts and behaviors of its users to study them, monitor them and, if necessary, turn them off . In the digital world, tyranny is liquid, instantaneous, structural, so that, rather than imposing it laboriously into reality, it imposes it by forcing its waxed envelope: digitization.

However, television and its grandchildren are not "a message processing center" as the Friulian poet wrote, or at least not directly. Their elaboration rather churns out representations, worlds made and finite. On television screens we do not discuss but we observe people discussing , we do not comment on events but (re) produce them by assembling images, words and sounds in a coherent whole that mimics times and modes of cognition in presence. With the promise of broadening the gaze on otherwise inaccessible realities, telematic windows incorporate them indiscriminately into the baggage of experience and memory. The prosthesis becomes flesh, it becomes an innate perception organ, it claims the same dignity of the senses. The "messages" pass into the excipient of an internally true narrative and therefore compatible with the expectations of the "well-functioning" public,the news in storytelling , the judgments, emergencies, the targets of sympathy or hatred in the testimony, in the " case »and in the plots of Hollywood. Those who identify in these tools the most decisive innovations of the last decades are not mistaken: because they make any other innovation useless, being able to manufacture it in effigy. Empirical substitution sends maieutics and technique to the attic. It does not fear reality, it creates it.

The most compelling paradox of this magic is that to give a dress of truth to its chimeras it exploits the same "good functioning" which is responsible for distinguishing the real from the fake. How does he do it? The answer is in the prefixes: tele-matics and tele-vision show τηλόθι , from a distance, they set up their representations in a physical and ideal space where the eye of the "well functioning" cannot go. It is therefore unlikely that they collide with living experience and that they face scrutiny. Like the baron of Münchhausen and his horse, distant information hangs only on itself, on its logic and coherence, on the authority of those who advocate it and on the number of its speakers. It is enough for her to "function" in her remote world. The seduction of being able to look far away, however, ensures that those who benefit from it do not feel sorry for it and welcome it into the neighboring world and truly believe they know the character, the everyday life and the vices of the heads of state, to scrutinize the budgets of the nations, to penetrate the secrets of ancient history and to recognize the trappings of true science, of which he rattles off hypotheses and percentages as if they were the coins he carries in his pocket. He believes he can always distinguish, like the biblical Adam, the bad from the good and the hoax from the real. Having accepted a script of which he cannot be the actor, he finally accepts its moral, its "message".

***

The use of placing myths and fairy tales in distant universes is common to all didactic narratives. The contemporary ultra-world is no exception and takes artifice to the extreme by adding new remote dimensions. It is no longer enough to trace the upheavals of the here to the beating of the wings of butterflies that flutter in the most exotic lands of the planet, nor those of the now to the "legacies" that we have been dragging along for millennia. There is also the cultural and experimental inaccessibility of the sciences that "say" without being denied, the quantitative one of polls, big data , statistical bulletins and macroeconomics. Who has ever seen a pithecanthrope, a three-century climate change, a deficit, a GDP, a spread, a business confidence index? The ultramondo occupies and exploits the whole assortment of the inexperienced and fixes its realm in the extremes of the too big, the too small, the too abstract, the too difficult, the too distant. The latest foray, the most daring, has gone into the intangibility of a microbe and its fragments to announce a mortal danger in the invisible and, with unprecedented inversion, a disease in the healthy.

The ultramondo does not always represent the false, but the ease with which it can do it – and it does – should make its perpetual quarantine mandatory, as recommended by the men of science and common sense of the best times. The supplement of knowledge that he dispenses to televeders does not extend, but subrogates and displaces the lived experience, forces it to give way to the point of shrinking like limbs left to rest for too long. The very "good functioning" then sees its dominion shrink, the balance of the game cracks. Alienation advances, the precedence of the other experience over one's own flesh, one's emotions, one's needs and one's past, and therefore also the forgetfulness of oneself and of the experienced world as the only universal on which to graft an exchange and a construction social. We gouge out our eyes to wear the viewers of those who promise us the stars and so we collide with the walls of the house, we wander in the oceans of the web and we groped in the puddles of a path, we live in the global village and we do not move away from the condominium. Enclosed, now also by law, in a Platonic cave covered with liquid crystals, we wither in the dark, reflecting ourselves in the sphere of a magician.

Never, never has humanity found itself enveloped as today by a "global distortion" (Antonin Artaud) that has emptied and crushed it in the limbo of the non-living, as those who do not perceive themselves and things close to them do not live. . When the cults of the invisible things of Heaven ceased, he sought the invisible by rummaging in the muds of the world and found it everywhere, he adored it in all its forms and created it even where it was not there. Everything has become metaphysical, but in a false and vulgar way, always changing according to the whims of the magician and without explanations or foundations, with the speed of zapping . Until we have left the firm and dull ground of the notre jardin and until reality, tired of knocking on the door and screaming at the windows, has burst into the telemundane sarcophagus to dissipate its farts, it will not be possible or advisable to clash to give answers to problems. some men. We would collide on a cardboard backdrop, with the risk of believing it to be true.


This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Il Pedante at the URL http://ilpedante.org/post/l-afasia-e-l-ultramondo on Wed, 21 Apr 2021 06:58:30 PDT.