19 de julho de 2008

Ecos da "questão iconoclasta"

"No século VIII, no quadro da ameaça militar e religiosa do islão a Bizâncio, a tradição cristã viu-se confrontada com a pureza radical do monoteísmo islâmico e a sua proibição das imagens. Os imperadores bizantinos mandaram destruir as imagens e os seus defensores foram perseguidos como idólatras. Embora esta luta dos iconoclastas tenha acabado com a vitória dos iconódulos (veneradores das imagens), pois Jesus Cristo é a imagem visível de Deus, nunca deveria esquecer-se que Deus é infinitamente transcendente e, se o Homem foi criado à imagem e semelhança de Deus, Deus não é à imagem do Homem.(...)"
Anselmo Borges, in Diário de Notícias, 19.7.2008

11 de julho de 2008

Globalização: perspectiva histórica

"The term globalization has only become commonplace in the last two decades, and academic commentators who employed the term as late as the 1970s accurately recognized the novelty of doing so (Modelski, 1972). At least since the advent of industrial capitalism, however, intellectual discourse has been replete with allusions to phenomena strikingly akin to those that have garnered the attention of recent theorists of globalization. Nineteenth and twentieth-century philosophy, literature, and social commentary include numerous references to an inchoate yet widely shared awareness that experiences of distance and space are inevitably transformed by the emergence of high-speed forms of transportation (for example, rail and air travel) and communication (the telegraph or telephone) that dramatically heighten possibilities for human interaction across existing geographical and political divides (Harvey, 1989; Kern, 1983). Long before the introduction of the term globalization into recent popular and scholarly debate, the appearance of novel high-speed forms of social activity generated extensive commentary about the compression of space.

Writing in 1839, an English journalist commented on the implications of rail travel by anxiously postulating that as distance was “annihilated, the surface of our country would, as it were, shrivel in size until it became not much bigger than one immense city” (Harvey, 1996: 242). A few years later, Heinrich Heine, the émigré German-Jewish poet, captured this same experience when he noted: “space is killed by the railways. I feel as if the mountains and forests of all countries were advancing on Paris. Even now, I can smell the German linden trees; the North Sea's breakers are rolling against my door” (Schivelbusch, 1978: 34). Another German émigré, the socialist theorist Karl Marx, in 1848 formulated the first theoretical explanation of the sense of territorial compression that so fascinated his contemporaries. In Marx's account, the imperatives of capitalist production inevitably drove the bourgeoisie to “nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, and establish connections everywhere.” The juggernaut of industrial capitalism constituted the most basic source of technologies resulting in the annihilation of space, helping to pave the way for “intercourse in every direction, universal interdependence of nations,” in contrast to a narrow-minded provincialism that had plagued humanity for untold eons (Marx, 1979 [1848]: 476). Despite their ills as instruments of capitalist exploitation, new technologies that increased possibilities for human interaction across borders ultimately represented a progressive force in history. They provided the necessary infrastructure for a cosmopolitan future socialist civilization, while simultaneously functioning in the present as indispensable organizational tools for a working class destined to undertake a revolution no less oblivious to traditional territorial divisions than the system of capitalist exploitation it hoped to dismantle.

European intellectuals have hardly been alone in their fascination with the experience of territorial compression, as evinced by the key role played by the same theme in early twentieth-century American thought. In 1904, the literary figure Henry Adams diagnosed the existence of a “law of acceleration,” fundamental to the workings of social development, in order to make sense of the rapidly changing spatial and temporal contours of human activity. Modern society could only be properly understood if the seemingly irrepressible acceleration of basic technological and social processes was given a central place in social and historical analysis (Adams, 1931 [1904]). John Dewey argued in 1927 that recent economic and technological trends implied the emergence of a “new world” no less noteworthy than the opening up of America to European exploration and conquest in 1492. For Dewey, the invention of steam, electricity, and the telephone offered formidable challenges to relatively static and homogeneous forms of local community life that had long represented the main theatre for most human activity. Economic activity increasingly exploded the confines of local communities to a degree that would have stunned our historical predecessors, for example, while the steamship, railroad, automobile, and air travel considerably intensified rates of geographical mobility. Dewey went beyond previous discussions of the changing temporal and spatial contours of human activity, however, by suggesting that the compression of space posed fundamental questions for democracy. Dewey observed that small-scale political communities (for example, the New England township), a crucial site for the exercise of effective democratic participation, seemed ever more peripheral to the great issues of an interconnected world. Increasingly dense networks of social ties across borders rendered local forms of self-government ineffective. Dewey wondered, “How can a public be organized, we may ask, when literally it does not stay in place?” (Dewey, 1954 [1927]: 140). To the extent that democratic citizenship minimally presupposes the possibility of action in concert with others, how might citizenship be sustained in a social world subject to ever more astonishing possibilities for movement and mobility? New high-speed technologies attributed a shifting and unstable character to social life, as demonstrated by increased rates of change and turnover in many arenas of activity (most important perhaps, the economy) directly affected by them, and the relative fluidity and inconstancy of social relations there. If citizenship requires some modicum of constancy and stability in social life, however, did not recent changes in the temporal and spatial conditions of human activity bode poorly for political participation? How might citizens come together and act in concert when contemporary society's “mania for motion and speed” made it difficult for them even to get acquainted with one another, let alone identify objects of common concern? (Dewey, 1954 [1927]: 140).

The unabated proliferation of high-speed technologies is probably the main source of the numerous references in intellectual life since 1950 to the annihilation of distance. The Canadian cultural critic Marshall McLuhan made the theme of a technologically based “global village,” generated by social “acceleration at all levels of human organization,” the centerpiece of an anxiety-ridden analysis of new media technologies in the 1960s (McLuhan, 1964: 103). Arguing in the 1970s and ‘80s that recent shifts in the spatial and temporal contours of social life exacerbated authoritarian political trends, the French social critic Paul Virilio seemed to confirm many of Dewey's darkest worries about the decay of democracy. According to his analysis, the high-speed imperatives of modern warfare and weapons systems strengthened the executive and debilitated representative legislatures. The compression of territory thereby paved the way for executive-centered emergency government (Virilio, 1986 [1977]). But it was probably the German philosopher Martin Heidegger who most clearly anticipated contemporary debates about globalization. Heidegger not only described the “abolition of distance” as a constitutive feature of our contemporary condition, but he linked recent shifts in spatial experience to no less fundamental alterations in the temporality of human activity: “All distances in time and space are shrinking. Man now reaches overnight, by places, places which formerly took weeks and months of travel” (Heidegger, 1971 [1950]: 165). Heidegger also accurately prophesied that new communication and information technologies would soon spawn novel possibilities for dramatically extending the scope of virtual reality: “Distant sites of the most ancient cultures are shown on film as if they stood this very moment amidst today's street traffic…The peak of this abolition of every possibility of remoteness is reached by television, which will soon pervade and dominate the whole machinery of communication” (Heidegger, 1971 [1950]: 165). Heidegger's description of growing possibilities for simultaneity and instantaneousness in human experience ultimately proved no less apprehensive than the views of many of his predecessors. In his analysis, the compression of space increasingly meant that from the perspective of human experience “everything is equally far and equally near.” Instead of opening up new possibilities for rich and multi-faceted interaction with events once distant from the purview of most individuals, the abolition of distance tended to generate a “uniform distanceless” in which fundamentally distinct objects became part of a bland homogeneous experiential mass (Heidegger, 1971 [1950]: 166). The loss of any meaningful distinction between “nearness” and “distance” contributed to a leveling down of human experience, which in turn spawned an indifference that rendered human experience monotonous and one-dimensional."

Globalization in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

10 de julho de 2008

Apologia dos Tipógrafos

Benjamin Franklin é uma daquelas figuras históricas que não deixará de surpreender quem procure aproximar-se dela. Foi inventor, político, inovador social, diplomata, cientista. Mas aquilo de que ele se orgulhava mesmo era de ser tipógrafo. Quase em jeito de auto-defesa, escreveu, em 27 de Maio de 1731, no jornal The Pennsylvania Gazette, esta
Apology for Printers:

Being frequently censur'd and condemn'd by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self, and publish it once a Year, to be read upon all Occasions of that Nature. Much Business has hitherto hindered the execution of this Design; but having very lately given extraordinary Offence by printing an Advertisement with a certain "N.B." at the End of it, I find an Apology more particularly requisite at this Juncture, tho' it happens when I have not yet Leisure to write such a thing in the proper Form, and can only in a loose manner throw those Considerations together which should have been the Substance of it.

I request all who are angry with me on the Account of printing things they don't like, calmly to consider these following Particulars

1. That the Opinions of Men are almost as various as their Faces; an Observation general enough to become a common Proverb, "So many Men so many Minds."

2. That the Business of Printing has chiefly to do with Mens Opinions; most things that are printed tending to promote some, or oppose others.

3. That hence arises the peculiar Unhappiness of that Business, which other Callings are no way liable to; they who follow Printing being scarce able to do any thing in their way of getting a Living, which shall not probably give Offence to some, and perhaps to many; whereas the Smith, the Shoemaker, the Carpenter, or the Man of any other Trade, may work indifferently for People of all Persuasions, without offending any of them: and the Merchant may buy and sell with Jews, Turks, Hereticks, and Infidels of all sorts, and get Money by every one of them, without giving Offence to the most orthodox, of any sort; or suffering the least Censure or Ill-will on the Account from any Man whatever.

4. That it is as unreasonable in any one Man or Set of Men to expect to be pleas'd with every thing that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleas'd but themselves.

5. Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence they chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.

6. Being thus continually employ'd in serving all Parties, Printers naturally acquire a vast Unconcernedness as to the right or wrong Opinions contain'd in what they print; regarding it only as the Matter of their daily labour: They print things full of Spleen and Animosity, with the utmost Calmness and Indifference, and without the least Ill-will to the Persons reflected on; who nevertheless unjustly think the Printer as much their Enemy as the Author, and join both together in their Resentment.

7. That it is unreasonable to imagine Printers approve of every thing they print, and to censure them on any particular thing accordingly; since in the way of their Business they print such great variety of things opposite and contradictory. It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, "That Printers ought not to print any Thing but what they approve;" since if all of that Business should make such a Resolution, and abide by it, an End would thereby be put to Free Writing, and the World would afterwards have nothing to read but what happen'd to be the Opinions of Printers.

8. That if all Printers were determin'd not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.

9. That if they sometimes print vicious or silly things not worth reading, it may not be because they approve such things themselves, but because the People are so viciously and corruptly educated that good things are not encouraged. I have known a very numerous Impression of "Robin Hood's Songs" go off in this Province at 2"s". per Book, in less than a Twelvemonth; when a small Quantity of "David's Psalms" (an excellent Version) have lain upon my Hands above twice the Time.

10. That notwithstanding what might be urg'd in behalf of a Man's being allow'd to do in the Way of his Business whatever he is paid for, yet Printers do continually discourage the Printing of great Numbers of bad things, and stifle them in the Birth. I my self have constantly refused to print any thing that might countenance Vice, or promote Immorality; tho' by complying in such Cases with the corrupt Taste of the Majority, I might have got much Money. I have also always refus'd to print such things as might do real Injury to any Person, how much soever I have been solicited, and tempted with Offers of great Pay; and how much soever I have by refusing got the Ill-will of those who would have employ'd me. I have heretofore fallen under the Resentment of large Bodies of Men, for refusing absolutely to print any of their Party or Personal Reflections. In this Manner I have made my self many Enemies, and the constant Fatigue of denying is almost insupportable. But the Publick being unacquainted with all this, whenever the poor Printer happens either through Ignorance or much Persuasion, to do any thing that is generally thought worthy of Blame, he meets with no more Friendship or Favour on the above Account, than if there were no Merit in't at all. Thus, as "Waller" says,

"Poets loose half the Praise they would have got Were it but known what they discreetly blot;"

Yet are censur'd for every bad Line found in their Works with the utmost Severity.

I come now to the particular Case of the "N.B." above-mention'd, about which there has been more Clamour against me, than ever before on any other Account. -- In the Hurry of other Business an Advertisement was brought to me to be printed; it signified that such a Ship lying at such a Wharff, would sail for "Barbadoes" in such a Time, and that Freighters and Passengers might agree with the Captain at such a Place; so far is what's common: But at the Bottom this odd Thing was added, N.B. "No Sea Hens nor Black Gowns will be admitted on any Terms." I printed it, and receiv'd my Money; and the Advertisement was stuck up round the Town as usual. I had not so much Curiosity at that time as to enquire the Meaning of it, nor did I in the least imagine it would give so much Offence. Several good Men are very angry with me on this Occasion; they are pleas'd to say I have too much Sense to do such things ignorantly; that if they were Printers they would not have done such a thing on any Consideration; that it could proceed from nothing but my abundant Malice against Religion and the Clergy: They therefore declare they will not take any more of my Papers, nor have any farther Dealings with me; but will hinder me of all the Custom they can. All this is very hard!

I believe it had been better if I had refused to print the said Advertisement. However, 'tis done and cannot be revok'd. I have only the following few Particulars to offer, some of them in my Behalf, by way of Mitigation, and some not much to the Purpose; but I desire none of them may be read when the Reader is not in a very good Humour.

1. That I really did it without the least Malice, and imagin'd the "N.B." was plac'd there only to make the Advertisement star'd at, and more generally read.

2. That I never saw the Word "Sea-Hens" before in my Life; nor have I yet ask'd the meaning of it; and tho' I had certainly known that "Black Gowns" in that Place signified the Clergy of the Church of "England", yet I have that confidence in the generous good Temper of such of them as I know, as to be well satisfied such a trifling mention of their Habit gives them no Disturbance.

3. That most of the Clergy in this and the neighbouring Provinces, are my Customers, and some of them my very good Friends; and I must be very malicious indeed, or very stupid, to print this thing for a small Profit, if I had thought it would have given them just Cause of Offence.

4. That if I have much Malice against the Clergy, and withal much Sense; 'tis strange I never write or talk against the Clergy my self. Some have observed that 'tis a fruitful Topic, and the easiest to be witty upon of all others. I can print any thing I write at less Charge than others; yet I appeal to the Publick that I am never guilty this way, and to all my Acquaintance as to my Conversation.

5. That if a Man of Sense had Malice enough to desire to injure the Clergy, this is the foolishest Thing he could possibly contrive for that Purpose.

6. That I got Five Shillings by it.

7. That none who are angry with me would have given me so much to let it alone.

8. That if all the People of different Opinions in this Province would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don't like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy Life; and if all Printers were every where so dealt by, there would be very little printed.

9. That I am oblig'd to all who take my Paper, and am willing to think they do it out of meer Friendship. I only desire they would think the same when I deal with them. I thank those who leave off, that they have taken it so long. But I beg they would not endeavour to dissuade others, for that will look like Malice.

10. That 'tis impossible any Man should know what he would do if he was a Printer.

11. That notwithstanding the Rashness and Inexperience of Youth, which is most likely to be prevail'd with to do things that ought not to be done; yet I have avoided printing such Things as usually give Offence either to Church or State, more than any Printer that has followed the Business in this Province before.

12. And lastly, That I have printed above a Thousand Advertisements which made not the least mention of "Sea-Hens" or "Black Gowns"; and this being the first Offence, I have the more Reason to expect Forgiveness.

I take leave to conclude with an old Fable, which some of my Readers have heard before, and some have not.

"A certain well-meaning Man and his Son, were travelling towards a Market Town, with an Ass which they had to sell. The Road was bad; and the old Man therefore rid, but the Son went a-foot. The first Passenger they met, asked the Father if he was not ashamed to ride by himself, and suffer the poor Lad to wade along thro' the Mire; this induced him to take up his Son behind him: He had not travelled far, when he met others, who said, they were two unmerciful Lubbers to get both on the Back of that poor Ass, in such a deep Road. Upon this the old Man gets off, and let his Son ride alone. The next they met called the Lad a graceless, rascally young Jackanapes, to ride in that Manner thro' the Dirt, while his aged Father trudged along on Foot; and they said the old Man was a Fool, for suffering it. He then bid his Son come down, and walk with him, and they travell'd on leading the Ass by the Halter; 'till they met another Company, who called them a Couple of sensless Blockheads, for going both on Foot in such a dirty Way, when they had an empty Ass with them, which they might ride upon. The old Man could bear no longer; My Son, said he, it grieves me much that we cannot please all these People; Let us throw the Ass over the next Bridge, and be no farther troubled with him."

Had the old Man been seen acting this last Resolution, he would probably have been call'd a Fool for troubling himself about the different Opinions of all that were pleas'd to find Fault with him: Therefore, tho' I have a Temper almost as complying as his, I intend not to imitate him in this last Particular. I consider the Variety of Humours among Men, and despair of pleasing every Body; yet I shall not therefore leave off Printing. I shall continue my Business. I shall not burn my Press and melt my Letters.

[Cf, também: Benjamin Franklin, an extraordinary life, an electric mind, um trabalho da PBS]

3 de julho de 2008

Do periodismo ao fluxo noticioso

"(...) Neste tipo de indagação genética convém sempre prestar atenção à etimologia. Jornalismo vem do francês journal, relacionado a pulsação diária – quotidien é sinônimo de jornal diário. Periodismo, em espanhol, é um termo mais preciso porque o intervalo entre as emissões não é necessariamente diário, pode ser semanal, quinzenal ou mensal. Acontece que a informação digital oferecida nos portais noticiosos não é periódica, é permanente, flui continuamente. É o usuário quem estabelece o ritmo da utilização, ao contrário dos periódicos propriamente ditos nos quais o ritmo comanda o usuário.(...)".

Alberto Dines, in
Darwinismo na Mídia - Exercícios especulativos sobre a evolução e extinção das espécies, in Observatório da Imprensa, 1.7.2008