Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mixed Feelings

Half of my social network is cheering for Obama. The other half may be paying attention, but goes on with daily life. I, for one, feel ambiguous. Across the ocean, people are feeling less emotional: an historic moment, yes (between us, the owl of Minerva only flies at dusk). But lots of skepticism over the future. In some parts of the world, people left their worries behind to rejoice and fill themselves with hope.

The King is dead. Long live the King!

I've heard this one a lot of times. And history teaches us to be cautious: rulers are embedded in a complex decision-making mechanism which does shape (yet without determining it fully) their vision and action.

I guess what scares me most is the need for mass catharsis. I've always been afraid of masses, and for good reasons, I think. Unlike the dominant scholastic paradigm of 'people's empowerment', I tend to notice the irrational, the violence and the collective hatred that masses for me encapsulate (yes, I do realize it is debatable, but this doesn't make it any less valid). That has been my experience, and the source of my worldview.

Today, I cannot escape my skepticism. Today, I feel the need for critical thinking. Maybe it's because I feel intellectuals should not be enrolled by politics - they should stand against it, warning of its propagandistic and manipulative strategies. This summer, in Barcelona, Philip Schlesinger gave an interesting talk entitled "Intellectuals and the Politics of Cultural Policy", which he summarizes in under a minute here (source: MediaResearch):

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