quinta-feira, 18 de dezembro de 2014

Why after-postmodern?

We can see by the news about the last occidental diplomatic steps that some postmodern political paradigms are surpassed by the pendulum of history. It is not a matter of support any side, but to recognize the strength of the pendulum of history. There is a moment when programs, strategies, projects, paradigms become exhausted.
The postmodern period was the second half of the 20th century. Its principles were pragmatism, efficiency, results and bilateralism or even unilateralism in the end of the century with a certain globalization.
In the beginning of the 21st century it was accentuated what Ervin Laszlo called ‘Macroshift’. In the transition between postmodern and after-postmodern period, we could see ‘inefficiency’ of ‘efficiency’, pragmatism starting to fail and the vision of ‘results’ more important than the methods vanishing under failure. Efficiency by efficiency only was exhausted because people did not see any meaning or target linked to the search for efficiency.
With that last news we can better understand why we call this period as “after-postmodern”.
We are not sure about what will come, but certainly big changes are coming in after-postmodern times…  

sábado, 13 de dezembro de 2014

Overwhelming data and after-postmodern

In 1997, David Schenk published Data Smog, a book about the great amount of information on Internet that would reach a level that, instead of brings help, it would bring confusion and stress.  
In postmodern period there was enthusiasm with the possibility to easier achieve more and more data. The ‘information age’ was a common and very well accepted expression in those days. But, someone like Schenk had a notion of what that all was leading to. With the transition from postmodern to after-postmodern period efficiency of ‘easy data’ became ‘overwhelming data’ and ‘data smog’ became a usual expression appropriated to that situation.
And so, in after-postmodern times we must find ‘other efficiencies’… Big Data could be a way to select information. But ‘data smog’ refers also to media information…
In scientific information ‘text mining’ can be useful, but could be interesting to remember what Edgar Morin said about research. He makes an intriguing proposal: it is time to stop to neglect the regularly excluded data of research and start to put light on those excluded data and study them, submit them to research also.
By transdisciplinarity and complexity theory these paradoxical issues could be worked side by side.   

sexta-feira, 12 de dezembro de 2014

Cheap Oil, Expensive Nature, Complexity and After-postmodern

In the last years the expensive price of oil helped to think about alternative energy sources and to improve the practice of those possibilities. Nowadays the oil is cheaper and cheaper, achieving a level where sustainable sources of energy are becoming less interesting to profits. Someone is filling some kind of “come back” to decades ago; but now, Nature is demanding, charging other sorts of “profits” and pointing to a loss more complex then only money.
In after-postmodern times we need to use the tool of “complexity” to set paradoxical things such as all the sources of energy in a way that Nature could be respected and human being survives. Maybe we need now a pratice to manage “dissensus” instead of just wainting a “consensus” that is difficult to achieve in a short term.    

quinta-feira, 20 de novembro de 2014

New humanism, Highwayman of Jimmy Webb and Interstellar

Humanism was a kind of movement (if we can say so, because the word “humanism” was created in 19th  century) in the 14th century started by the Italian Scholar and poet Petrarch (1304-1374). He was inspired by letters of the Roman orator Cicero. Cicero proposed the term studium humanitas for his contemporary version of the Aristotelian Liberal Arts, the studies recommended from Aristotle to the parents for a better education to their children to grow a truly person. The Liberal Arts were composed of Trivium (Grammar, Rhetoric, and Dialectic) and Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy and Music).  It was not a great novelty the use of those studies; the novelty was the new use mainly of language and a new time for poetry. More than just get back the ancient texts, the humanists applied the critical analysis of those texts to build a new vision of old and new times. The called the middle Ages (the term middle Ages was coined later) “obscure” not by the ignorance, but mainly by the absence of poetry (new studies showed that mainly Enlightenment thinkers elaborated the bad stigma of middle ages). Looking to the way the language was used the humanists started a new way to see the world, the society and to see themselves.
By the pendulum of history, some kind of humanism comes back under certain conditions and circumstances. In current after-postmodern times we are living a “macro shift” and we do not know for sure where it all is leading to. This is a time for some “new humanism” related to these days. What could be the tools for a kind of humanism in times of cybernetics and space technology?
Again, by the pendulum of history, we could see the seventies of the 20th century as a forgotten decade, similar to the “clever side” of Middle Ages. Pop poetry and music of seventies could be better remembered and studied by “an after-postmodern reading”.
In that decade Jimmy Webb composed “Highwayman” after a dream he had about being someone else. An interpretation of the lyrics is about a bandit that is reborn in three other people: the last of all “a starship captain”. Maybe another way of understand is considering that kind of reborn as a “survival of humanity” through historical crisis. The starship captain could fit to the main character of the movie “Interstellar” and those emotional links leaded him to a specific space-time where he met humanity again…

sexta-feira, 31 de outubro de 2014

Dark Ages, Middle Ages, New Ages - Part 2

Today, in history studies, the researchers do not assume anymore a fixed unique date to separate the historic eras. They see the transitions as processes evolving step by step before and after remarkable events. But, in some moment, a new paradigm arrives…
When Thomas Kuhn wrote about “paradigm” he meant only “scientific paradigms” in “scientific revolutions”; he even was not sure about use his concepts to understand biological sciences. Anyway, with the success of his ideas, other fields of knowledge started to use de concept of “paradigm” to understand several kinds of changes under human thinking. So, in the transition from Middle Ages to Renascence Period, it came a moment when people, mainly scholars and professors, did not see anymore themselves and the world as people of decades before. In a certain way we could say that “suddenly” Gothic Art became “strange” or “ugly”, Aristotelian knowledge lost part of its force, and so on… In 14th century Petrarch started to think that Ancient Times, the time of Romans and Greeks, was a time of knowledge, and between those times and his own time it was a kind of “dark period”. Later this was used to reinforce the caricatured image of Middle Ages that was built mainly by Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thinkers.   
For Petrarch the old was new, and the new was old. This is a key to understand certain moments and concepts in history.
From time to time in history and even nowadays someone like to speak about something that he called “new”, but in true it is something older than several things around. The vice versa happens too. Sometimes when someone try to start something really new, quickly appears another person to label it as “old”, just to devalue that innovation. Under that way of expression there is also some kind of prejudice about anything considered “old” or even the concept of “old”. In after-Postmodern times is yet difficult to say what is truly “new” or truly “old”…  

quarta-feira, 29 de outubro de 2014

Dark Ages, Middle Ages, New Ages...

Most of us received information in History about “Dark Ages”, or “Middle Ages” as a time of ignorance, superstition, disrespect, prejudice, etc., and other “negative” things, and that all of these was overcome with Renascence, Humanism and Enlightenment.
Currently historians know that Dark Ages were not so dark… Middle Ages were not so ignorant… In true, the names Renascence and Humanism were fixed centuries after they occurred. Men of Enlightenment saw their own time as a “time of light”, under the “light of reason” and Middle Ages as a “time of obscurity”. Dark Ages and Middle Ages are concepts created later then the supposed eras. Throw research historians now know that at those times it was light and darkness, as in anytime. We do not know which century was better or worst. Each century has its light and its darkness. Sometimes it seems that the 20th century could be the worst, other times it seems that could be the best. Anyway, we could say that we are now in a “macro shift” in history, or we could say that we are in after-postmodern times. We are not sure about “new ages”... But, as in all human history, light and darkness are still around… 

quinta-feira, 4 de setembro de 2014

Memory and after-postmodern – Part 2

Maybe the Big Data is a new level of memory, a new kind of memory, a kind of individual and collective memory that is stored in the virtual world, outside of any head. At same time, if people refuse handwriting, if people give up handwriting, if people “forget” handwriting, it can be a kind of memory loss. One is the language of Big Data, other is the language inside the brain without handwriting, and other is the language using the fingers holding a pen, even supposing that the words are the same.
Memory is stored based in senses strongly connected to verbal language. The brain cannot achieve complexity without the body and its sensory stimulations. Also, using the brain to activate the body can improve the brain capacities.
In the Postmodern Period we used to think that there were “brain people” (intellectuals, artists) opposed to “body people” (athletes, hard work). Nowadays step by step we understand that brain and body depend on each other and can help each other to improve both capabilities.
In the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century there were produced several movies about memory loss and manipulation of memory, mainly in Science Fiction. It was arousing a perception that humanity was at an increasing risk of memory loss. Memory and identity are connected things and Occidental Culture could be in a risk of identity loss in the transition from Postmodern to After-postmodern.
Is our collective memory vanishing together with “the language” of the muscles of our hands?          

segunda-feira, 1 de setembro de 2014

Memory and After-postmodern – Part 1

The last decade of the 20th Century was called “the decade of the brain”. Under the postmodern culture, the brain could be the last frontier to conquer by the power of chemistry… mind and soul were maybe only some kind of illusion produced by the machine of brain.
At the same time the Arts started to focus on variations of “memory”. Could Science manipulate memory? Could Science make us forget painful moments? Or maybe some new kind of power, political or scientific, could take over us controlling our memories?
That theme is now perhaps stronger and maybe nearer to happen in some way, although we have apparently better conditions to keep data in digital archives.
But maybe we are living some other kind of memory loss. If we do not use some of our oldest capacities, as for example, the ability of handwrite, we are losing “body-memory”, “hand-memory”, even some “neuron-memory”, as cultural memory as well. 

terça-feira, 10 de junho de 2014

Piketty’s book and after-postmodern economy

The book of Thomas Piketty “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” is a best seller and has raised many debates and several divided opinions. But here, in our forum, it is secondary to choose among those opinions. What does matter is that the book was written in after-postmodern times. The debates are after-postmodern debates about what can be the after-postmodern economy. Even if we conclude that “nothing changes under the sun” throw decades or centuries, this conclusion still is an after-postmodern conclusion.
All that discussion shows that we are not anymore in “post-modernity”. So, the book of Piketty is also a tool to try to understand what is going on in after-postmodern social structure and what is going to be the after-postmodern economy which seems no to be yet very well established.  

terça-feira, 22 de abril de 2014

After-postmodern University and “1968”

Humbolt started the Modern University when he founded the University of Berlin in the beginning of the 19th century. It was the “University of Culture”. In the second half of the 20th century emerged the Post-modern University or, as Bill Readings used to say, the “Post-historical University”, and also as he wrote, the “University of Excellence”, that replaced the University of Culture. According to Bill Readings, the students’ French movement of 1968 was ambiguous between the former two models of University: the Ancient University and the Modern University. They did not want the oldest model or the modern one. In a certain way that movement helped to establish the University of Excellence: a kind of excellence that has no center point for the university except “the excellence itself” instead of the idealistic aim of Culture for the former Modern University. Felix Guattari was enthusiastic for the movement of 1968, but he became disappointed after the eighties, because he saw that cultivation of “subjectivity” was not valorized and he adverted that if someone do not take care of its own subjectivity, “something” outside would have power over it. So, he used the term “ecosophy” to explain an idea of ecology of the external but also the internal environment inside the human being. Readings just lived until the apex of Postmodern Era and he saw in the University something happening similar to what Guattari thought about subjectivity. They both did not see the coming of the After-postmodern Era and the weakness of pragmatism, efficiency and Excellency. Toward the University goes one cannot say, but it is neither “modern” nor “postmodern”… Maybe the after-postmodern model could come from theories and practices of transdisciplinarity and complexity.        

sábado, 29 de março de 2014

After-postmodern timing

20th century`s Sci-Fi could not imagine mobile phones… At those days people imagined several kinds of complicated machines for everything, but not some so simple and, at same time, so complex as a mobile phone. Maybe “The Jetsons” approached something similar with that “talking watch”… But nothing as a small computer shooter talker photographer library etc. etc. that you can carry inside your pocket.
This great invention, maybe one of the greatest in history of mankind, brought even a kind of new step for democracy and citizenship… How many people can achieve information of the entire world and, at same time, can communicate anything…
But, everything has, at least, two sides… So, mobile phones also changed the human timing… People are forgetting patience, forgetting to wait, to wait for anything… to be far from anything… to be unwired… “Unplugged”… So the only time is now and in a not poetical way, or even philosophical…
This one of the greatest after-postmodern paradoxes.

terça-feira, 11 de março de 2014

After-postmodern University – Part 4

The postmodern period can be divided in two parts: the first from 1950 to 1989 and the second from 1990 to 2008 approximately. Historical periodization is not exactly determined. The transition between eras is a blurred zone. So, some characteristics of the precedent period can persist in the next.
When Bill Readings writes about University he is in the nineties of the 20th century. At this time, postmodern ideas and practices were in the apex, with the so called “excellency criteria” cited by Readings as the main target of that institution. He criticizes that criteria and sees the “modern University”, from the modern era, lost in its original meaning as a focus of Culture linked to nation-state; with the economic “globalization” of the end of the 20th century, the nation-state was weaker more and more.
With the end of the postmodernity, globalization became weaker and entered in a new step that we do not know yet where it will go. The nation-state regained a new form that we also do not know where it will go.
In that way, after-postmodern University is not anymore in that entire “excellency standard” even with the continuing use of that word in international rankings. Nevertheless, current internationalization of university is not quite the same as the former “globalization”; that internationalization can be seen under the net and complexity theories.
Maybe the after-postmodern University could have some mixed characteristics of modern and postmodern universities, looking for a kind of “Humanized Excellency”.   

quinta-feira, 27 de fevereiro de 2014

After-postmodern University – part 3

Bill Readings wrote that the “modern” University founded by Humbolt in the beginning of 19th century had “Culture” in its center and had relation with the creation of the nation-state. In postmodern times the University became a bureaucratic institution and, instead of Culture, “Excellency” was the main reference to evaluate University. The modern University of Culture worked around ethnicity and the construction of the nation-state. The postmodern University of Excellency was a space where administrators became more important than the professors, functioning more as a corporation intended “to sell its products”; excellency was something not related to anything except “excellency itself” in a world with weaker nation-state and stronger “globalization”. Readings thought that postmodern or posthistorical University became something empty of meaning, like a kind of “University in ruins”. So, in after-postmodern times, with “the end of efficiency” and interrogation about Excellency, will the pendulum of history bring the modern University back, or something new and different is coming?     

segunda-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2014

After-postmodern University - part 2

In the Introduction of The University in Ruins, Bill Readings writes that “the University no longer participates in the historical project for humanity that was the legacy of the Enlightenment: the historical project of culture”. So, he asks if it is a new beginning or an end of the social function of the University, in a kind of “postmodernity” of the University. In that way, he cites the emblematic book The Postmodern Condition, by Jean-François Lyotard, where “the question of the postmodern is a question posed to the University as much as in the University”. Readings prefer to use the word “posthistorical” rather than “postmodern” to the contemporary University, because it is an institution that keeps itself existing beyond its own historical identity. He do not agree with some kind of “more modern” University than the modern one, that could be the argument for a postmodern University.

Anyway, in the end of the 20th century Readings saw that posthistorical postmodern University in the ruins of its cultural function. Now, in the second decade of the 21st century, what can we think about a “after-postmodern” University? 

sexta-feira, 31 de janeiro de 2014

After-postmodern University

University is an institution whose origin was in Middle Ages. Its configuration and purposes changed from time to time and in the beginning of the 19th century it followed a “modern” model associated to the establishment of the state-nation, with some characteristics of the emergent science. That modern model became different in postmodern era.
In the book “University in Ruins” (posthumous publication – 1996), Bill Readings argued that the University with strong cultural tendencies became controlled by consumerism and international bureaucracy, where the administrators were more important than the professors; everything under the so called “globalization”. The aims were excellency, quality, efficiency, and other similar impressive words all conditioned by that consumerism and bureaucracy. So, university lost its cultural finality.
We can add to it the weakening of subjectivity. Guattari wrote that if one cannot take care of its own subjectivity, other will do it instead and inner freedom of each one can be lost.
In after-postmodern times it is all mixed: modern and after-postmodern conditions together with the end of the efficiency in the productive sense of the end of the 20th century. After all, young people are questioning what kind of job they can take after years of study, or maybe they do not feel anymore that the university can bring meaning and understanding of life in full sense.
At the same time, the university expanded in the virtual space and achieves much more people in the world, although subjectivity is something more difficult to cultivate far from some kind of mentor…
The university in after-postmodern times is an opened question looking for after-postmodern paradigms.