Nietzsche’s Prophecy

Posts related to my book “Nietzsche’s Prophecy”

The blessings and curses of technology, whether we applaud or despair, need to be understood. Especially important is what technology does to our thinking, our consciousness, relations to others and to ourselves. While we may think of robotics and computers or satellites as the current metaphor for what is high-tech, the fact is that ordinary concepts such as the idea of history, how we listen, how we judge beauty and age and the quality of life, are heavily influenced by technology.

Technology, in my view, is what extends the human body. Obvious technology, like the telephone, extends us beyond this place, outside of what is here, beyond the visual and auditory range of ordinary experience. The accompanying fact of human experience is that we do not talk to one another in the same space. “Telephonese” is a special language by which we imagine one another visually, believing that there is someone on the other end. The result is that we create a social network which stands outside of the communities of those with whom we live and work.

Obvious technology, such as writing, takes some dynamic stuff such as talk, which is a muscular vibration of air waves, and makes it appear to be permanent; outside of the time of talk, outside of you talking to me. Writing permits us to talk to everyone, even to those who are not yet born. Before writing, in the pre-literate human society from which we derive, the notion of history was also negotiated through actual people, and their memories of others, up to five generations.

Now, with writing, we have actual records of several thousand years from some here-and-now of experience, to eras, to eons, to foreverness. With photography, we have two-dimensional images of what the three-dimensional. With movies and video, we create actuality out of 35mm and video, HD, and we relate to the community of others by means of movies and television.

Sitting alone or alone in theaters with others around us, we relate to some general stories or concepts. Now with some history of movies and of videos we can study the nature of aging, and be thrust into history through the power of visuality. We see through lenses, see by artificial light, and sleep when it suits us – not when the sun goes down. We listen to radios and stereos, amazed sometimes by what we hear, but we are not sufficiently amazed to study electronics.

We do not often remember that our music is all played on high-tech instruments: that the violin string is ordinarily under several hundred pounds of tension, that the modern violin bow is not so very old. Having been 35,000 feet in the air, traveling at speeds 100 times faster than our bodies can move, we have seen the earth from afar, and it has changed our vision!

As long as our bodies seem relatively still, we do not thrill to the speeds of cars, trains or planes. Yet they have altered the size and scope of the earth. We can now imagine the entire globe, but we do not have very good ways of imagining all of its peoples. We thrill more to the animals of the natural kingdom, and seem to worry more about “all” the world’s people.

Technology: wonderful, musical. Real as the pen that I use to write, and the glasses through which I look to see. Sitting here alone, I abstract from my experience to yours, and we meet in the courting of the printed symbols, to remake them into our minds’ workings. We are together in some sense of understanding, and increasingly alone in our experience.

Here we are: all together alone.

Via Curriculum Studies— Henry Giroux on Freire’s Lessons for Now!
Dec 1, 2010 … Lessons to Be Learned From Paulo Freire as Education Is Being Taken Over by the Mega Rich. Tuesday 23 November 2010. by: Henry A. Giroux, …

Henry Giroux has been really ranting lately, inspired by Paulo Freire’s work and thinking: especially “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” – and especially the “political” understanding of education in these times of politics bending toward money and power… and control of students’ thinking.

I mostly agree… but a good bit of Freire has disappeared in the name of politics being overtaken by economic analyses and control of the very nature of education.

Education in the Western world – perhaps most especially – is being attacked by the rich and lovers of the rich – who oppose the public schools, the teachers who tend to find solace and power in unions, life tenure, pensions, and all. Charter Schools, private schools. Blah! On public schools and on the public.

Even most liberals (Obama…so far anyway) have gone for control of teachers and teaching, supporting “No Child Left Behind” – presumably as ways to “success” for students. Do what I/we tell you, and how we tell you, and…!

Giroux’ hero – rightfully, but for at least some different reasons – has been Freire whose book has sold well over a million copies. But his ideas continue to be fragmented by the would-be powers – and his “methods” of education, particularly “dialogue” have apparently yielded to the anti-politics of Giroux invocating money – now controlling politics. “Critical pedagogy” is Giroux’s Freireian term for what is missing increasingly in the current war for our future: thinking and being.

Freire would get (especially poorer) students to study and understand the power and motivations which got them educated effectively to prolong and promote the power of the few – by not attending to the “banking” and “telling” methods which the rich and powerful imposed on most students.

“Learn what I tell you!” Never mind contexts and methods which effectively keep most students in their “proper” places: learn what I tell you – never mind the fact that I-the-teacher – am guarding the status quo by convincing you that this is “way” of the world – no questions asked. Just learn what I tell you, as efficiently as possible. It’s all politics… but the politics remain “hidden” and y’all don’t ask no questions! The world of the powerful remains “distant” and effectively hidden to the students. Increasingly efficient!

So much to agree with – especially in these times of attacks on schooling, teachers – especially as so many education systems of other countries seem much more “successful” than ours.

But much, so deep, is left-out… omitted from this particular if not exactly narrow analysis. Particularly people, persons – everyone: teachers and students – have no clear “presence” in this world. Presence: persons, thoughtful, development of the very nature of clarity over the course of the entire course, so it can enter students’ being… perhaps especially after the course is “over.”

Here I’m quoting Freire – who I invoke in my book and course: “Teaching as Dialogue.” Freire’s major way-out of the power-pinch is Dialogue. And most of the educators who Freire-ise education invoke the term: but apparently only a few of us seriously explore and apply dialogue in our teaching-being.

I want to “touch” the futures of my students – I would love to be “remembered” as “inspiring” their futures. But much about “me” – a person – much about them being and becoming who they would be. Mostly the Freireians don’t seem to be “present” – strong, memorable… characters…who “remain” some places in “their” students’ ongoing thinking.

(Can I be remembered, have power without being very “oppressive” in their thinking? Am I “good enough” to deserve having some presence in their lives? Or is this just a “different” route to power and control from the past: more than inspiring “my” students to study and develop their own personal framings of… power and control.) Whew! (If Socrates only realized that his idea of dialogue was always to know all the “answers” to his question-ing!)

So: enough to begin/continue the study of Freire, amidst the facts of his being still inspiring me, most days as I teach, and am a teacher. Growing with my memories and appreciations of his work and thinking.

But a “true” dialogue? – a lifetime pursuit… and then some.

Why do so many teachers invoke their anti-politics, even as they (don’t find themselves) don’t enrich their own teaching in the practicings of dialogue?

The erosion between our sense of what belongs to life and what belongs to death, of what is life’s and what death’s, is increasingly in our thoughts. Driven by a gathering sense of economic dread, pushed by a government which needs active enemies to distract us from any concern with the living of life, we find it easier and more compelling to wonder why we are here – on earth – to conflate the everyday events of living into all of life…and to think it is all an illusion.

Salvation now! Salvation; once and for all, today is forever. Salvation wipes out, blinds us to the experience of living, of any yesterdays or particular tomorrows. Today and tomorrow become one. Life is not anything in and of itself. As I disappear from my own life, from living, others retreat into the heavenscape, become dim, misty. The occasional joys, the frequent pains of living are reinterpreted in each experiencing from some distancing perspective, as something other than they are…were.

There is no me, there are no others, I have fallen from Heaven into this, this vale of tears and fears. Safe from life. Save me, Oh mystifier of Life! Safe from life…a confusion between what is good and what is evil and whether they account for anything at all as they rob us of the life we are given.

Life-as-death. Who can refute this? Who would want to? What sense a God who would destroy Life as “He” gives it…?

There are seekers after knowledge who probe the material of our being, to know knowing. Inside the cranium, way behind the fronts of eyes seeing out, there is the thing we call the brain. The brain, the modern elect to be the center of our being that it tells us what is and what we do; and we do not understand how it works.

A finite thing, a contained tissue which lends itself, somehow, to knowing the infinitude, the finite become the imagination. The brain, the mind, a puzzle to boggle the imagination by which we know to ask. The focus on the brain drives itself backward, regressively into the self-caused cause which is called God the creator in other thought arenas.

Here, the steerer, the tiny man or woman within, the bottom line, informs us no more than if we knew nothing. The answer, for there must be an answer, must lie within; but where, but how? Not knowledge enough, yet; but wait. Somewhere, in there, the answer. Not anywhere else. I am certain. But…my life grows short, and I must know knowing ere I depart. To search, to search, where can I go that I can know…knowing?

The material, the brain, yet defines my understanding. I search for the seat of being elsewhere and find it is the last place I look: the dreams of night, that is where; deeply in the knowing beneath the consciousness of being…awake. I drive myself to the seat of being which precedes the emergence of being human and of being who I am.

The notion of Islam’s Jihad, life as a demanding struggle: a truth for all – for all of time.

But in some times of political polemic – to die in, to die for, a holy cause, the notion of Jihad can be invoked as a war of righteousness posed against whatever is proclaimed evil.

The confusion: a distinction…between what is life and what is not; what is real…and what is not.

The imagination that we know and also think that we can know: what are the limitations, what the form of the human imagination?

The story that is often depicted for the Sioux at Wounded Knee, battling for the land, the place which is the home and the Mother of all of Being: “Today!” “Today,” they say, “is a good day to die.” And who can say that is not a truth?

It is to take some notion of the inevitable, and turn it into the hardest of life’s currencies. We all (I suspect) have a possession which is such a story (even if it is a story about how not to have such a story…yet!).

Age and aging: the accession to progressive visions of death…The story expands in its nearing and hearing.

Finally: a theory located about the nature of what is progress and why is futurity!

Death and life. Life and death. Puzzles? Solutions?

The power of death: to inform life’s visions of death, and of life, and of all possibilities.

Life: which seems more important, seems to have less power – at least in its theoretical nature. But, the arts, especially music – for me – have great power also.

Life as struggle…death as…?

Life wants to reduce itself to two dimensions; or less. A picture imploding upon vision’s fickleness, wiping out each previous picture, vivid in its penetration into our mental processes. See it once, see it ten times, it is yours. It is you. Colors ensconce words which are highlighted or diminished around the ideas as images sear eyeballs like newly risen suns.

Events are reduced to the outlines of words which we call objects, state the real to be non-images. And here we are…loving images; they guide thinking, direct seeing to seeing each next image. Imagine! Vision tells us we want to remain in each present moment pushing pictures into some sense of memory which only vision can access.

The control, a theory of images once confined to the interpersonally, to the socially experienced – parents, teachers, searchers after wisdom – now moved to the self: the editor of moving pictures constructed into a thing, an event whose experienced time is constructed and viewed outside its own time. Images recorded to tell a story. A story: images constructed to form another kind of image, a story…a story seems to have more thickness, more duration, than momentary image. Memory…images. Being…images. The real…images?

Slipping into the solipsism in which every I is some string of images of my own creation, so I no longer search for those which inform, stuck in the delight with those that entertain, my mind is some supermarket of images reflecting only upon themselves in the mirror which is me.

The way they have constructed their sense of human nature and of the world reduces all to discourse. Everything is a kind of talk. Knowing, thus, is analyzing talk. But how to analyze? Does it matter, how? The literary critics coming from derivations of a Hegel whose science is now reduced to talk and talk about, and the what of what it is about has disappeared. The current talk is all about “immediate consciousness,” as if anyone knows what that term means, except what anyone means it to mean.

They wanted to know how reading any particular author or text enters the mentality. Enters the mentality? Huh! Not knowing clearly how to think about mentality makes their thinking and conversation more distant, more vague, more remote. They talk about significance in some pseudo-statistical sense, not sensing what numbers might indicate, or about the contexts in which they occur…or from which they derive.

They are certain that knowledge resides in discourse…they who own discourse must own knowledge. Seeing the world through the grids and veils of how the world’s texts are interpreted, they are far away — far, far away — from anyone’s experience. This probe into (the idea of) experience is justified by stating that all of life has been interpreted through the texts of antiquity; we are its descendents in spite of our selves, whether we read or not. Do they really know that? Are we all really living out a fully packaged, textual life? Why, then, ask anyone to respond to a question: when the answer is already pre-packaged, and the knowers make it all up anyway?

Schemes of meaning, schemes of being, abounding in the ideas of textual revelation, where the only sense of time, of being, of experience is character, reader, and interpreter. The cynical metaphor likens this to some sort of anti-computer which is its own opponent.

No people, no newness, no antiquity: only discourse, talk about talk about talk about…?

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