Hello again, dear Internet. Thank you for sticking around!
This will be a monthly thought train from now on – and if many more board, it will run more often. Stay tuned!
As I am getting into phases of intense PhD-writing, there is a certain state I would name vigil of thought, which manifests itself after approximately three days of constant caffeinating and creating cycles. It makes me think about everything more, in depth, to the right, to the left, forwards and backwards. It might be exhausting in the long run, but the fact that this state is not my status quo is upsetting, since I like my mens (meaning what Ficino calls the intellectual mind, ergo the wit) alert – however, it seems to be the daily norm to just quietly stroll around having a small talk with my thoughts on running errands or immediate plans and not constantly reflecting topics of hard matter.
Such topics are hard to think about and even harder to talk about, since the subjects people want to talk about rarely coincide with subjects that people need to hear about. That’s why i was immensely delighted to watch and witness the success of this year’s Handmaid’s Tale, the tv series based on Margaret Atwoods semi-dystopian novel from 1985. (“semi-”, because as Atwood herself commented, all of the scenarios of tyranny and restriction mirror conditions actually existing or existed somewhere, some time).
It maybe an unexpected parallel to Atwood, but another Author who is constantly warning people about surrendering to fear of the unknown and the downfall of a liberal society is Michel Houellebecq. His controversial style and alleged misogyny (I personally don’t see any) keep many from taking his work seriously as a social commentary. But, in “Possibility of an Island”, “Platform”, and, most of all, “Surrender”, he speaks critically on the intellectual decay of society, the exploitation of fear to exert one’s power and massive changes towards a more conservative, regressive social policy. Not so different from Atwoods novel, which in it’s gist discusses the repression of women in a patriarchal society, and above that frame repression of individuality in favor of society, resulting in total regress and/or stagnation.
Symptoms of the collective disease have presented themselves, just to mention the topics I am somewhat familiar with, in European countries and Northern America (I will not name partys or even names for the sake of staying in an abstract-to-empirical philosophical-sociological line of thought, feel free to ask questions in the comment section!). What is not considered normal and acceptable behaviour and how hate has nested itself in the average individual is scary to watch in any news show in any country. The Internet can be a wonderful source of information and learning, and a tool to connect people, but as a mutation of those perks it also enables a weekly meeting of the class clowns in forums a, b and c and allows them to find confirmation for their narrow-minded thoughts. As the smart man questions everything and therefore himself as well, the stupid man is completely sure of his argument, and since anonymity in masses can now be used on an even broader scale to legitimate factually nonsensical opinions and to breet hate towards minorities or strangers – or immigrants –, those masses have found their way to the streets. The documented history of mankind has not had one day without war and/or conflict, but the factual support and individual pursuit to execute hateful behavior on a daily basis is downright scary.
The examples of Atwood and Houellebecq give are far too similar to what is happening in our society not to notice. However, by speaking up and taking action in favor of peace, education and progress towards equality I believe we can at least slow down the regression of society into a pit of hate. How far we have come yet how fragile this state will always remain, too many have forgotten. I used to think I don’t belong in a generation of war. Although there is no war between countries where I live at the moment, I have changed my opinion.
So in conclusion I would like you to incourage you to stay aware and awake, speak your mind, not shy away from scary topics, and actively inspire others to do so as well.
These are my two cents.
What do you think? Do you agree? What would you suggest? Did you enjoy the first season of Handmaid’s Tale? Do you like Houellebecq?
Let me know all of your thoughts in the comment section below.