quarta-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2011

sustainability - old or new efficiency?

"Sustainability" is one of the words of the moment. Many times it is used in the same way that many others words were used for the reinforcement of the efficiency of the postmodern economy. So, it was just another kind of "trademark" or a "marketing word". We are not saying that "trademark" or "marketing word" means "bad thing". The key question is how to use it. If it is used just to make a kind of "ecological glamour" and the practice does not really follow the concept of "sustainability", than it will be the ruin of another good word and good concept together with the end of the postmodern efficiency. But, if "sustainability" compounds a sincere part of projets, programs, institutions, etc., it can be part of "a new efficiency", an efficiency that can be "sustained" and "sustain" anyone. 

segunda-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2011

efficiency in the after-postmodern

The historical processes have not absolute cuts, but some events change slowly and others walk faster. Even revolutionary processes are not so rapid as we think it could be.
The digital technology and the consequent digital comunication started in the Postmodern Era and continue improving even after the end of the postmodern efficiencies. Maybe it happens because in the field of digital technology "less is more" or "little is better". This paradoxical logic is not quite the same as the logic of the globalization and open market of the 1990's, even with the digital market that is still growing. 
The digital technology made a new kind of democracy or an expansion of democracy, because never in History so many people had easy and cheap comunication with almost anyone and almost any group or institution.
Digital technology and internet can be compatible with environmental sustainability and democracy.   

domingo, 18 de dezembro de 2011

pop art and the after-postmodern

Pop Art was one of the ways that artists saw Postmodernity in the second half of the 20th century.
Maybe Theodor Adorno with his rigorous concept could disagree that we call that kind of art as "Art".
By one side Pop Art was a kind of "denounce" against the so called "System" and by other side it was also another way "to consume". It was an art to consume and that is one of the points criticized by Adorno about the "Cultural Industry". This ambiguous characteristic of Pop Art was also one of its atractions that made people look for that kind of art.
In the beginning of the 21th century does Pop Art keep its "charm"?
After the internet, does the consuming art continuing to be the same ?

sábado, 17 de dezembro de 2011

Reductionism and the end of postmodern efficiency

One of the caractheristics of the postmodern thinking is Reductionism. Reductionism started before 1950's, but had its importance increased at this times. By the Reductionism we try to put the every condition observed in a phenomena in one just plane or level, with a supposed aim of better understand and manipulate the effects of that phenomena. In several situations that reduction was effecient, because in the apex of the paradigma of postmodernity the reduction solved several problems and answered questions. But, as Thomas Kuhn explained, it comes a time when the paradigma do not answer all questions more and more, and the paradigma starts to be contested. So it happened in the first decade of the 21th century.
The reductionist philosophy started a long time ago, when philosophy and science stablished the surch for "one cause and one effect". Even with the growing in complexity of the Science of the 20th century, the conclusive reasoning was a surch for some kind of reduction. But, step by step diversity imposed itself and several causes with several effects had more space in conclusions. 
Its important to say that sometimes synthesis is important  and usefull and it is different of reduction. 
With reduction we lose, with synthesis we walk a step ahead. 

segunda-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2011

The End of Postmodern Efficiency

Postmodern period started in the 1950’s decade and one of the main pillars of postmodernity was “bipolarity”, even at the same time there was created something like the United Nations and other similar organizations. There was a First World and a Second World. Well, in a field with two poles, something like a “Third World” could be strange in a kind of Aristotelian logic. So, in the Cold War, the Third World was in the shadows, receiving influences of both sides. With the supposed victory of the Free Market World in the 1990’s, it seemed that the world was one with that and its efficiency, and a supposed minimum State to control the citizens.  
As ever, the Art World sometimes follow the system, but many times reveals what is in the shadows. So, the Counterculture Movement that was embryonic in the 1950’s showed itself in 1960’s and ahead, not only in Art but also in other areas. In society appeared “hippies” and similar groups. But, as everything was dominated by the market these all became only commercial marks and in the 1980’s came the “yuppies” very much tuned with the efficiency of Postmodernity, with pragmatism and competitive spirit. So, the triumph came in the 1990’s for that maybe “dehumanized” efficiency. In 1999, the beginning of the Anti-globalization Movement seemed a little crazy, perhaps old fashioned in front of a triumphant “globalized market world” that promised products and peace for everyone. Maybe that movement was feeling what was coming in the 21th century and that what was in the “shadows world” was something more complex.
We are not talking about wright wing or left wing because it would be fall in the same bipolarity. We are talking of Complexity. Now the world is in a transition time where Complexity can help to go beyond polarity. Maybe “cooperation” can be more important than “competition” as we can see from the Durban decisions about Environment decisions for the future, even with the disbelieving of many people.      

terça-feira, 6 de dezembro de 2011

What "Modern"?

Science, Art, Politics, Economy, all are interconnected. We can look to the different lines of that issues with a “polarized” eye, or we can use “complex thinking” and have “open windows” to new data and new paradigms, trying to use some “reasonable” criteria. When we talk like this maybe we can remember Paul Feyerabend and his “Against Method” and the point of view that the scientists are “not too much scientific”, or that the rigour of scientific method is questionable. Anyway, we can use the criticism of Feyerabend to don’t forget the scientific knowledge is transitory. At this point we can use the notion of paradigm of Thomas Kuhn and stay conscious that at each moment we have to be under some paradigm with its language and limitations.
So, let’s go beack to the “XIXth’s century modern”. Some say that the “modern pre-postmodern” started with that century. The Modern of XIXth century partially walked side by side with Romantism and a certain kind of Nationalism.
Romantism actually started “before Romantism”; as a matter of fact, maybe almost anything in History starts before the “official” beginning.
Romantism was a kind of artistic reaction to the racionalism of Enlightenment.
“Modern” Science walked together with Racionalism.
The reaction of Romantism started with a kind of return to the origins of differente european communities. As said Norbert Elias, the “Sturm und Drang” movement of Goethe and Schiller was a revival and valorization of the German language in the scholar environment that was then influenced by the French Culture. That comeback had a kind of “nationalistic” spirit still before the rise of the nations in XIXth century after Napoleon and at the same step of American Revolution.
Romantism in France in XIXth century was also a rediscovering of Middle Age’s Art. The beauty of that art was forgotten since XV-XVIth centuries. The rediscovering of that Art was also a comeback to the origins of France walking together with the nationalism of XIXth century.
In the middle of that, Baudelaire created the word “modernité” as the state of “the momentary”...
So, what was the “modern” of that days?
The “modern” of Baudelaire, the “modern” of Mary Shelley that we already talked about, the “modern” of the “new Nations”, the “modern” of Industrial Revolution, the “modern” of Science... or maybe was the “modern” of all that...

sexta-feira, 2 de dezembro de 2011

Prometheus or The Postmodern Frankenstein

I wrote a title that is "a game" with the title of the Mary Shelley's book: Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus. The "Postmodern Frankenstein" that I am talking about maybe is a symbol of "postmodern" scientist and at the same time is a symbol of the human being submitted to that scientist.
I am not trying to say that Science is bad. Scientists, physicians, patients, citizens, they are all submitted to several political, social, cultural, etc, conditions. And we are talking about postmodern conditions.
The Postmodern Science thought that could do anything to human beings supposedly for their benefit. 
In the years 1950s and 1960s the development of technology to keep life after a cardiac arrest produced a kind of "living dead" people that stood between life and death in artificial conditions. Several movies and books were made about this issue and similars. That people were considered more "dead" than "alive" and the "vegetative state" was a medical condition diagnosed more and more often.
In the "after-postmodern" times something different started to happen. The Science is discovering ways to know better if someone in supposedly deep coma or in a vegetative state has some level of conscience preserved. Maybe at this point the "living dead" people turned to   be more "dead alive" or in other words, they are now more "alive" than "dead".
The trajetory of postmodern science was more interested in a kind of efficiency that went directly to results, with few attention to the means to arrive to that results. It was a kind of Machiavelism where "the ends justify the means". Well, Machiavel is considered one of the first thinkers o "Modern" Age.
Thomas Aquinas stablished that "the ends doesn't justify the means", or in other words, ethically we cannot make anything just to achieve a desired result. 
With the end of the postmodern efficiency medical scientists started to use a new look to the "living dead" patients in coma or vegetative state or in minimal state of conscience. 
With the end of postmodern efficiency, Science is discovering that maybe it is more prudent to be not so triumphalist with apparent successfull results. After ten years of an announced glory of Genoma Project, that proclamed that "the secret of life was discovered", companies that were working hard with that or other similar projects gave up to continue that kind of research, and they found that it is not so easy to work with stem cells.
The new efficiency of the Science of after-postmodern period is still arising...

segunda-feira, 28 de novembro de 2011

Pendulum of History - The Symbol of Frankenstein

Mary Shelley published “Frankenstein” in 1818. There is something related to this book that we do not pay attention: the complete title of it. The title is “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus”. In what meaning the author used the word “modern”?
Prometheus was the greek myth that created the human being from clay and stole the divine fire from the gods (varying with the version:Hyperion, or Apolo, or Zeus) to give it to mankind, to make them intelligent. In some versions Prometheus is punished by Zeus because of this. In some other versions he is punished because he mocked Zeus when offering a sacrifice. Anyway, the myth of Prometheus is an emblematic symbol of audacity and at the same time of punishement.
Mary Shelley was influenced by her father William Godwin, a philosopher and writer, who was influenced by the ideals of the French Revolution. The house of Godwin was visited by writers, thinkers, scholars, scientists (the word “scientist” would be created only in 1834 by Whewell), in an environment that was perceived by Mary.
Science was starting to grow in society at the same time that people like Percy Shelley (husband of Mary), were enthusiastic by the possibilities to dominate nature by Science. Others, like Mary’s father, did not have that same confidence.
In the beginning of the XIXth century, chemistry and mainly electricity seemed to be powerfull tools of Science.
Mary Shelley lived a kind of ambiguity between the ideas of her father and her husband, but she put some caractheristics of Percy in the personage of the failing scientist Frankenstein. This point can indicate that she was also not too confident in an optimistic view about the power of science over the nature.
Looking to the book by a larger context, when Shelley uses the word “modern” she do not express an “optimistic” or “positive” sense, but a kind of defeat, or a lost humanity, because everything went wrong after Frankenstein created “the Creature”. It is interesting that, outside the book, the unnominated Creature got the name of its creator and the creator became just a caricature of the “mad scientist”.
The “ancient” Prometheus was forgiven by Zeus, after his penance on the Caucasus mountain, but maybe it was not the same with the “modern” Prometheus of Shelley. He did not follow the Aristotle idea that “the whole is more than the sum of the parts”, idea that it is possible to apply to "human being" in the place of the word "whole". The Creature was a sum of parts of men’s bodys, but it did not make a human being as a whole.
Symbolically, Mary Shelley’s use of “modern” can express a perception of what was going on in the world, seeing the menace of science, and maybe the menace of industrial revolution to society.
Maybe the Pendulum of History of 200 years can remember and warn us that “modern” and its derivatives doesn’t have necessarily the meaning of “the better for all” or “the better for us”.
And it can also show us that the “conscience of modern” as an ambiguous or dangerous thing is not new. Today several artworks express also this feeling about the power of Science.
Maybe, as "modern", "postmodern" is also ambiguous...

quinta-feira, 24 de novembro de 2011

Part 4 - Pendulum of History - The End of Efficiency

Let's stop a moment the linear discourse and let's skip to this year 2011. Maybe it is not necessary to explain "the end of efficiency"; it could be enough just read international news... Many authorities are trying but, for while, no one get to fix international economy. The last crisis started in 2008 and did not stop. In 2011 there is not a new crisis. There are variations of the same crisis.
In 2008 someone said that it was a new 1929. Many people did not agree, and said that mankind learned with the Wall Street Crack of 1929 and would not repeat the conditions that led to the Great Depression.
Here we can see the pendulum of History coming and going between the two moments. But we must see also that it is not exactly the same thing now, although there are similarities.
The 2008 crises came after a time of "efficiency" , an efficiency as professed by the Postmodern Period that started after Second World War. At the same time that there was the Cold War, the aim of the governments was to surch and show efficiency, without giving importance to the way to achieve the efficiency. Based on the success of technology men thought that with Science and Technology everything could be possible, with no need of things like Philosophy, Humanities, etc, and Ethics could be only a relative colecction of rules that resulted from the evolution of Science and Technology.
At the same time there was a vestige of ideals of modernism and romanticism in the "counter culture movement" that was not well received by "the postmodern".
As stablished by Thomas Kuhn in "The Strucuture of the Scientific Revolutions" the paradigma, the model, only works in the time that it is possible to find answers for all questions and problems in a specific field . When the questions start to not find answers under the paradigm, the necessity of a new paradigm arises. Kuhn stablished it for Science, but it is possible to extend the concept for other fields of knowledge.
The Paradigm of Postmodern Politics had a climax in the 1990 decade with the discourse of Globalization.
But, we can think that the first globalization came with Alexander The Great... In the 1929 crises there were a globalization of the effects and it was also a globalized crisis in a globalized economy.
So, maybe "globalization" in 1990ies was a kind of trade mark, a marketing mark....
Now, day after day, globalization seems to be a kind of epidemy, a contamination, a vicious cycle...
So, now are we modern, postmodern, or what? Are we making a coming back to "modern" pre postmodern?
What is better, modern or postmodern?
The nowadays modern is marked by Science. Is the success of Science enough for humanity to consider "modern" a good thing?
One of the first authors to use the word "modern" at a parallel with the progress of Science was Mary Shelley in 1818 in the book named "Frankenstein, The Modern Prometheus".
This is an issue for the next text.

terça-feira, 22 de novembro de 2011

Part 3 - Pendulum of History - The End of Efficiency

Philosophy, Politics, Economy, Science, Arts interact with each other through History. It is an illusion to think that Science or Politics, or any discipline could walk alone "with its own feet". They are not independent. Each of them is influenced by the others. Near the French Revolution it was a debate in the French Academy between the supporters of Ancient Art and the supporters of Modern Art. That debate shows a perception of what was coming at other levels of society, or even other areas of knowledge. So, in the begenning of XIXth century Hegel expressed a discurse about History including the mention that he was in "modern times". In the middle of that same century the french writter Baudelaire coined the therm "modernity" and then expressed "a state", a state of "transitoriness" tipycal of a time of transformations in society related to Industrial Revolution and to new technologies associated with scientific discoveries.
Scientific discoveries did not appear alone by some scientist isolated on a high mountain. Well, even the word "scientist" was coined by Whewell in 1834. So, before that maybe we can say that there were "no scientists"...
Scientific discoveries happened because there were interested scholars, but we must see that scholars were people from nobless. We must see also that in the decade of 1660 the first scientific societies were created by kings of England and France.   So, the political power of XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries understood that Science was becoming an important "tool" to keep the power, even to counterbalance the power of the Church in that days. 
In XIXth Century, at same time of the Modernity of Baudelaire, there was the Romantic Movement in Arts.
The Romantic Movement had a kind of nostalgy by the ancient origins of the communities that were becoming  nations. In a certain way, "modern" and "ancient" were mixed... But the discurse of modern is almost always "we are new", "we bring the new". 
We are not judging if modern is good or bad. We are trying to say that "modern" means more than just "new".
This phenomena reappears again and again and it can help to understand the "after postmodern"... 

sábado, 19 de novembro de 2011

Part 2 – Pendulum of History – The End of Efficiency

If we look to the first use of the word “modern” by Cassiodorus in the VI.th century A.D., it is possible to associate it with the perplexity of Cassiodorus about the lost knowledge of Greek language by the roman people. Symbolically it was a final mark of the period of the Hellenistic Culture, that was started by Alexander The Great, although he was macedonian.
So the Greek would be replaced by the Latin as an international language. This moment was more a cultural transition than a political transition. The political changes were greater before, even it was a continuous process.
In a first moment, it seems a paradox that after the falling of the West Roman Empire, the Latin stood as an international language, and before, while the Roman Empire was strong, the international language was the Greek...
At this point (VI.th century) the pendulum of history was between the Greek Period of Culture and the Latin Period, in a certain way. Latin language would stay important. Mainly in the academic environment until Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) who defied the rule which stablished that the Latin was the exclusive language of Science in the Universities, including books.
Of course that was a long period process, it was not an overnight change. The vernacular languages were coming step by step through centuries, but in the universitary environment, vernacular language was not recognized and free in the times of Paré. He was living in the XVIth century and the so latter called “Modern Age” was beginning.
Petrarca (1307-1374) and Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444) were some of the first scholars that could be considered “founders” of the Renascence. They saw the historical period before them as a kind of a“dark age”, or a time of ignorance. They thought that times of knowledge were times of Greek and Latin Culture, until the end of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. Bruni was the first to stablish a triple division of History: Ancient, Middle and a New Period. It is interesting to see that, in the contemporary concept, Petrarca and Bruni were also in the “Middle Age”.
Christoph Cellarius (1638-1707) consacrated that periodization of History.
In XVIIIth century the “Illuminists” reinforced the Middle Age as a time of obscurity. They got “light” for them and let “shadows” for that centuries ago. So they did a kind of projection, thinking they were in the era of Reason and the medieval period was a time of ignorance. But, this alleged Reason soon would be shaked by “Terror” after the French Revolution...
The so called “Modern Era” was a time with more slavery than before in Western World, with more things like Inquisition than before...
In a certain way, to be “modern” was to try a comeback to the “ancient times” before the Middle Age...
We are not saying that Middle Age was a paradise, but if we look with attention we could see that each century has its good things and its bad things. Maybe the XXth century was the century with more violence than ever...  

quarta-feira, 16 de novembro de 2011

Pendulum of History - The End of Efficiency

Pendulum of History – The End of Efficiency

History can be seen as a linear process, and also as a cyclical process. The both together can build an image of a time vortex.
So, on the timeline, History has a kind of a pendular carachteristic.
Day after day, more and more we feel that the world is probably in a big transition.
But between ten and twenty years ago many people thought so.
“Globalization” was the name of the supposed transition.
After the falling of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it was an optimistic vision of the apparent “victory” of Capitalism and the international economy sang a unisonous song of the globalization as “salvation of the world”.
But some people perceived that something was going wrong and the anti-globalization movement started in 1999. Anyway, until 2008, most part of governments stood for free market and globalization of economy.
We must say that this comment is not left wing, or wright wing, or “any wing”...
We think that more than “polarities” we must see “complexity”. To better understand our times we can look to the “after postmodernity” by the thinking of Edgar Morin, Basarab Nicolaesko, Boaventura de Souza Santos and others that talk about complexity.
In terms of pendular history, you can choose what extension of period you want: million years, thousands, hundreds, or less.
We will continue the next text from here.   

segunda-feira, 14 de novembro de 2011

after postmodern - the end of efficiency

We are conditioned or “educated” to think that “modern” is good and “unmodern” or “old fashioned” is bad.
But what are the meanings of “modern”? What does it mean to be “modern”?
As we know, Cassiodorus (485-585 A.D.) was the first person to use the word “modern” in a similar sense as it is used today; from the Latin “mode” and the Greek “modus”, the “modern” of Cassiodorus was related to a perception of “changes”, or yet “changes for the time being”, when he came back from Constantinopla, where he were several years, and saw that Romans did not understand Greek language anymore. So he said that he was in “tempus modernus”.
The word “modern” was also used in medieval texts in a similar way, in times of Charles Magne for exemple.
“Modern Age” was a concept established between Leonardo Bruni (XIV-XVth centuries) and Christoph Cellarius (XVII-XVIIIth centuries) (both created the periodization of history), mainly as opposed to Middle Ages as a kind of “Dark Ages”, or an age of ignorance (as they supposed to be).
The use of “modern” reached a new step with La querelle des Anciens e des Modernes, The quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns, in the end of the XVIIth and the beginning of the XVIIIth centuries in Europe, mainly as an art debate.
In the end of XVIIIth and the beginning of the XIXth century, Hegel wrote about “modern times”, analysing a historical context.
In the end of XIXth and beginning of XXth century the Modernism or Modern Movement was a kind of reaction to the Realism. In a certain way, Modernism had some correlation with Romantism, and so we see that sometimes what is named “modern” or “new” has some charge of “return to the past”, although it speaks with the innovations in technology.
Anyway, during the XXth century the mass media popularized the use of the term “modern” as we see today in any banalities, for example, when someone buys a new product and says “I bought the modern one”, or “I bought the modern version”, or I am trying to stay modern by buying this new one”, etc, etc.
We must remember that Bruno Latour wrote “We Have Never Been Modern”(1991) criticizing the use of “modern” by scientific discourse, but we must also remember that there is a consecrated use of the word by the people as several other words.
Although the word “postmodern” appeared in the end of the XIXth century, it was after the book “The Postmodern Condition”, in 1979 by Jean-François Lyotard, that “postmodern” achieved a level of general discussion.
It is necessary to remark that “modern” and “postmodern” is used in different meanings by different disciplines at the same period of time. Sometimes  it also used concepts as “modernim”, “modernity”, “postmodernism”, “postmodernity”.
After the first decade of the XXIst century it seems that we are living big changes.
The Postmodern Period started after the Second World War; characterized by “efficiency”, it seems to have ended...
The years between 2001 and 2008 were a march to the end of the “efficiency” as we knew then... After 2008 the world crisis continues, and the usual efficient measures do not effect anymore...
Still talking about words.
In the end of XXth and beginning of XXIst century many people started to use various prefixes before postmodern trying to carachterize that postmodern time is surpassed by history: neo, meta, trans, not, post, “etc-postmodern”... But also other people are asking “What comes after postmodern?”
Maybe we can ask: “what comes after the end of that revered efficiency of postmodern times, vanished with the several crisis of XXIst century”?