Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Revealing the Truth about Revealing the Truth

In 1949 Martin Heiddeger delivered four lectures to the Bremen Club that eventually became the essay, "The Question Concerning Technology." He relates how technology is to him not about technical and scientific methods of production nor inventions based on those principles. It is a way of revealing beings. Poiesis, bringing-forth, is what the craftsman does when he produces an object.

Revealing in the sense of technology has the inherent danger that the revealing will not reveal truth. Heiddeger reveals the essense of technology as a setting-upon of man and nature to turn the earth into a standing-reserve, that is, a storehouse of resources which Man masters. Man extracts from nature everything he needs. The Rhine River is for the purpose of creating hydroelectric power.

Ge-Stell, enframing, is that challenging claim which allows man to reveal nature as standing-reserve. That is a dangerous way to look at the world:

Yet when destining reigns in the mode of enframing, it is the supreme danger.
This danger attests itself to us in two ways. As soon as what is unconcealed
no longer concerns man even as object, but exclusively as standing-reserve,
and man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the
standing-reserve, then he comes to the brink of a precipitous fall, that is,
he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-
reserve. Meanwhile, man, precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself
to the posture of lord of the earth. In this way the illusion comes to
prevail that everything man encounters exists only insofar as it is his
construct. This illusion gives him in turn one final delusion: it seems as
though man everywhere and always encounters only himself...In truth,
however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself,
i.e., his essence.

While enframing endangers the truth by keeping up the standing reserve, man can be the agent by which the truth will be revealed.

I have to give ghost credit to a web page I read about a two years ago that said the way we use information now is like Heidegger's standing-reserve. Please let me know, readers, whether you can find this page. Think about this. Don't we just mine Google and other search engines when we need information? Are we doing deductive reasoning now? With a vast reservoir of info at our disposal, we have become mesmerized by information. Knowledge could be an arsenal of intellectual weaponry to use to fight subjugation. We could use the database to fight the official narrative and then come up with our own dialectics, each person his own inventor of new ideas. This poesis, bringing-forth, could help us redefine our world and our place in it.

I believe the powers that be want to keep us dependent on the standing-reserve of knowledge so that we do not shake up the power structure. The powers are pulling a Svengali's trick on us by having us dependent on factoids and mesmerized by the Internet. Few people use the expansive standing reserve to generate new configurations

Just as the railroad coralled people off the farms and into the factories in 1820's and 1830's England, the Internet, when it is used as standing reserve, restricts thought. As Heidegger warned, with ubiquitous information at our fingertips, we encounter only ourselves. We are part of the standing reserve. Our consciousnesses are becoming part of the system. That system is Capitalism.

You may have noticed that any time at all you invoke a term on the search bar, you get ads. Knowledge is now associated with consumption. This is a dangerous development, as knowledge is tainted with powerful forces more than ever. It always has been, but now it is ever-present that it is second nature to us that we are in buying mode when we go to the storehouse of knowledge.

Consider the ways that computers alienate us from eachother. People talk less to others. Email precludes personal interactions -phones, while distancing, allow give and take and emotional connection. Answering machines do not. How many minutes at the outer limits would you stay on hold? The IRS kept me on hold for one hour and thirty seven of them. And answering machines confine your choices. How many times have you had a question which couldn't be found on the directory?

Our identities themselves are getting alloyed with Information Age technology. The pervasiveness of Facebook and MySpace underscores this. A friend of mine didn't contact me in over two months while abroad. When she did, it was in the form of a brief email saying, "Hey, check out my Facebook profile!" So much for asking how I was or having a human interaction. We become virtual selves, and the danger is great that we are losing touch with real, physical and mental, suffering in the real world. I am sure forces are aware of this, and that this is not coincidental.

Heidegger relates the meaning of technikon, part of techne (technology) as more than the work of the craftsman bringing forth objects. It is also about art. And poiesis, bringing-forth, is poetic.

Once there was a time when the bringing-forth of the true into the
beautiful was called techne. The poiesis of the fine arets was
also called techne.

Heidegger tells us how in Ancient Greece art was not an aesthetic enterprise. It was a revealing that aimed at the safekeeping of truth. Its job was to reveal truth. That is possibly what John Keats meant when he wrote, "Truth is beauty, beauty truth." So, it was the supreme danger that the enframing and challenging Heidegger wrote of would reveal only himself, but not his essence. That is the false revealing through the techne. Art is the technikon which can reveal the truth of man's existence.

If we allow our minds and identities to rely on all information as something we extract, and we do not deduce our own thoughts, we will become victims of our own exploitation of resources. Deduction is artistic in that we take information from other sources and then creatively reconfigure ideas.

The act of making art is a search for truth. We should make sure our mastery of the earth and information does not confuse what we know from what we could know.

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1 comment:

Art said...

Hey Stuart,

Great post, much to think about here.

Harold Bloom is fond of saying the following:

"In this age of ours information is endlessly available, ...but where shall Wisdom be found?"

I think he is actually coopting a quote from Tolstoy or somebody.

Studies show that, for the most part, rather than living, isolated, virtual lives on the internet, young students are actually using facebook and social networking to deepen and intensify their already existing social relationships.

Rather than an escape, it is a way to "deepen" their experience. The term is misleading, because it doesn't mean what most people would think. Deepening used in this sense means to get more out of a defined period of time by intensifying the experience.

As you point out, with the niche corralling of our self-controlled entertainment and social experiences on the Internet we risk facing only ourselves.

What is disturbing is the encroaching of entertainment on art. Art demands more than entertainment, art is smarter than entertainment.

People want their jobs to be stressful, the want their recreational activities to be challenging, (Kayaking, Rock Climbing, etc.) But increasingly they want their art or entertainment to be convenient and easy.

But I am fascinated by how far social networks have come. With their myriad applications and customization, I have been able to learn things about friends I have had for a long time that, quite frankly, I never knew before.

How much does the internet REALLY replace. I think that we all have a limited number of very close friends that we regularly confide in, and then we have a large network of what could be termed as acquaintances, (for lack of a better term at this time.)

I think this was the way it was before the Internet and the way it is now. Some of the differences are that you can keep some of those close friends over separation of time and geography. I have several close friends I made during my years in the Army that I have stayed close to even though we are scattered across the country and the continents.