Nietzsche and Mankind

May 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

F. Nietzsche is probably one of the most questioned modern philosophers. Not even considered as a proper philosopher by some … And those who follow his thread are somehow doomed to controversy and misunderstanding. Yet, I think that some of his ideas are enlightening in so many circumstances. Think of this excerpt from “The Anti-Christ”:   “Man is absolutely not the crown of creation: every creature stands beside him at the same stage of perfection … And even in asserting that we assert too much: man is, relatively speaking, the most unsuccessful animal, the sickliest, the one most dangerously strayed from its instincts – with all that, to be sure, the most interesting!” (p.124)*

Or this other one along a similar line:    ” Mankind does not represent a development of the better or the stronger or the higher in the way that it is believed today. Progress is merely a modern idea, that is to say a false idea.” (p. 116)*

Watching videos like this one below makes you wonder where did Nietzsche got the inspiration for his ideas:

This is a video taken on April 30, 2013 at a session of the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas. I have to say that politicians fighting is not news, neither in Venezuela nor anywhere,  yet we insist on believing that somehow public discussions should be kept at a certain level of respect if not for what the other stands for, at least for what the concept of discussion/debate entails. That is a plurality of arguments and comments in exploring solutions,  examining proposals and so on, that invariably calls for negotiation. In the “heat of the moment” you may say regrettable things, opting for physical contact is … well, what do you think?

* F. Nietzsche “The Anti-Christ”  Penguin Classics. Reprinted 1982

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Birds and Spirits and Venezuela

April 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Not so long ago in a country torn by perennial political campaigning one of the candidates told the story of how, while praying in a small chapel, a  whistling bird flew around him three times. As he was looking at the photograph, which was nested among flowers, of the recently deceased president he understood the bird´s presence as a sign of approval – sent by the dead man´s spirit- of his intention to start campaigning for the highest office in the country. “He´s here with us now” “I knew immediately what the bird was trying to say”, emphasized seriously the candidate. The people surrounding him were listening intently. Here was a man not only sensitive enough to understand the language of birds, but also capable of transmitting further the message for the benefit of all of us. Even more, he was taking on his shoulders the responsibility of carrying on the will of the deceased hero.

Three times flew the bird around him. Like in a fairytale, realism and magic are forever intertwined in order to create a higher meaning. Is this the stuff of politics? It seems so, or at least, it seems like the present state of affairs is such that politicians or aspirants to the public sphere need to frequently resort to allusions to other worlds, spirits or evil/good dichotomies in order to explain or justify their actions (think of Bush´s “axis of evil”, Chavez “Smell of sulphur” in his famous UN speech, and so on). While such references would have raised many eyebrows, not to mention scorn in other times, the blossoming of this quasi-mystical understanding of reality seems to qualify the modern approach to the public. You may think these are just rhetorical tactics to reach the lowest common denominator in an audience, after all “intelligent” people don´t fall for these fairy tales. Maybe so. Yet, it is still unsettling that a discussion of the public should be built around these references, is this sustainable politics?

In Paris

April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

Ohhh Paris … My lovely Paris in spring. This past weekend I was in Paris with some Venezuelan friends and we decided to check the Jesus Soto exhibition at the Pompidou. The exhibition was rather small, there were twenty works, but according to the brochure from the museum “the collection of 20 landmark works from between 1955 and 2004, donated to the state by the artist’s family, fill in some significant gaps and offer further insights into his artistic journey. Centre Pompidou is exhibiting this exceptional group of works for the first time.

I guess that the fact that your work is exhibited at the Pompidou should be good enough for an artist, but i could not avoid a vague feeling of dissatisfaction at the whole set up of the work. It seemed like it was done a bit in a hurry, to get over with it. Not much attention to details … Yet, I could not help but to notice that the whole Pompidou was a bit like that. One visit to the bathrooms at the ground floor and a grand view of the foyer coming down from the stairs was enough to elicit a sensation that the center was already showing its age. “The Pompidou needs a dose of TLC” said one of my friends, I could not agree more. Although the center underwent its last renovation work in December 1999, it is in need of further help. Maybe the finances are in dire straits and therefore the present status …? I missed the Munch exhibition from last year, which supposedly was a huge success, but perhaps that was not enough to collect money to invest in the center? God knows but the Pompidou definitively needs a refreshment!!

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