Month: October 2014

The narrative of our life: road towards political consciousness

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This week I was asked to speak in a conference with an interdisciplinary audience from the Humanities. For that occasion, I decided to transform one topic of my research into a generic perspective to which many would be able to relate. The thought I will discuss is the rise of the political consciousness in the baroque period by controversial narrative. The concept of Narrative hunts me for the past few months and certainly for any modern humanist can, and should, evoke large variety of connotations.

Lope de Vega

Up until recently (50 years or so) Narrative was used predominantly in literary context describing books, stories and literary work of any sort. This changed in the 60’s and 70’s with the rise of the study of Identity with all its components. Narrative slowly transcended into Narrativity and since then is also being used to interpret cultural and social based sciences (political philosophy, psychology, cultural theory, anthropology, sociology…).

storiesToday, Narrative is more of conceptual term that refers to the reality behind the fiction. For some it is the missing link from representational form to ontological and epistemological thinking. Personally, I am dubious about the use of Narrativity without the important epistemological evidence of narration. To my opinion, it is relatively vague and unscientific to simply relate to one’s hypothetical life of ideas as a Narrative without any sort of physical expression of it. This expression can have multiple forms such as: writing, oral and physical expression, filmed or recorded etc.

As it seems, if we lack a sense or a form of communication, the misconstrued ideas that might be established or provoked are simply too great to be considered as any kind of science. With the help of recent studies in Reception Theory, we are aware of the difficulties with interpretation from written expressions of realities (other theorists as Eco or Sontag had long mentioned some of these reflexions in their work). Considering Narrativity is not necessarily the controversy between prescribing life experiences and describing them (as Kreiswirth and Strawson try to debate).

From this perspective I will probably try to define later this week the literary expressive baroque as an awakening for transmitting political consciousness to other straits of society. Probably the most successful interpretations of this kind of cultural transmission are in the form of political satire and theatrical plays. Even though those voices were first documented in the great Greek and, more predominately, Roman ancient civilizations, it is not until the end of the 16th century that we re-encounter this social intervention in politics in such a large scale.

Thus, we can thank Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Balzac as well as many anonymous satires (anonymous for obvious reasons) to set the foundation for this recent view about income inequality:

How empiric investigation can cause pain

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Who would have imagined that studying 17th century philology can cause one to lose considerable amount of money? Apparently, the relationship between one and the other is all about the perspective you are looking from. Philology, to remind those of you who don´t use this word on a daily basis (such as everyone before beginning actually studying it), is the study of textual expression of practically any sort. While the most common application of it is in Literature, one can certainly be engaged in a philological research on mathematic treaties, on city planning and of course on Politics and Economy.

Quentin_Massys_moneylender and wife
Quentin Massys, Moneylender and wife

The difficulties begin when an investigator is too absorbed in her research, then, some changes in her life are unavoidable. My friend’s investigation entails different reflections on political theory and economics from both pragmatically and philosophical (the latter from mainly a moral-philosophy perspective). As an inspired investigator, she as well, wanted to experience some of the understanding (or lack) of the issues that occupied her days and began being more mobilize in different areas. Hence, she confided in her banker her curiosities et viola, her first investment in the stock market. Little did she know, this will exhaust her, causing sleepless nights and anxiously staring at the computer screen watching every minute and each movement of the undulation of the market’s points. She thought that after few texts she already understood the essence of a transaction, a visible exchange and the commercial movements, at least until she had entered the beast. Consumed by fluctuating human emotions in an unimaginable speed between the joy of winning, despair of uncertainty, depression of losing and the long, arduous seconds between one update and another.

crisisToday, on the threshold of a new recession, she sees her banker on a daily basis. She already got used to the smell of lack of morning shower, just as she tried earnestly not to be bothered by the amount of scalps accumulated on his shoulders. She told me once how she knows with all her senses and intuition that this person should be the last person anyone should listen to an advice from. However, an unknown, incredible force, prevented her from backing down. Is it the fear of judge oneself as a looser? Is it a gambling addiction? Or maybe simply the adrenaline mixed with the thought of being linked to the writers she is working on? Surely, there are many reasons, some coherent and understandable while others are mysterious and hollow.

Angelo_Bronzino_Alegoria del amor detalleThe living mind that is called The Stock Market has a life of its own. It is responding to the panic from one hand and euphoric emotions from the other. There is no way to predict where the next point will be. With Trispectivism it is quickly observed how the result of the stock market is, in fact, the sum of millions of individuals interacting at different levels while at the same time its idiosyncratic existence is as one magnanimous entity (a more elaborate post about Economy viewed by Trispectivism in the near future).

In his work, Confusión de Confusiones (1668), José Penso de la Vega concluded in a conversation between a philosopher, a merchant and a broker, how the stock market is an indissoluble knot that no sword can cut. There is nothing else to do but buy and sell in the dark, do little, be armed with patience, and if you lose, pay the difference and prolong the game, constantly following opinions, if a new detail doesn´t appear suddenly.

Cover, Confusión de confusiones
Cover, Confusión de confusiones

Patience, -she said in the end,- patience…! – while in her eyes the sound of the falling hard-earned silver coins hitting the floor with the pronunciation of her every syllable Pa tience.