Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 13, No. 6, 2014
  Current Issue  
  Back Issues  
Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Nancy Snipper
Louis René Beres
Daniel Charchuk
Lynda Renée
Nick Catalano
Farzana Hassan
Betsy L. Chunko
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
  Music Editors
Nancy Snipper
Serge Gamache
Diane Gordon
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Chantal Levesque Denis Beaumont
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Contributors
  Noam Chomsky
Mark Kingwell
Naomi Klein
Arundhati Roy
Evelyn Lau
Stephen Lewis
Robert Fisk
Margaret Somerville
Mona Eltahawy
Michael Moore
Julius Grey
Irshad Manji
Richard Rodriguez
Navi Pillay
Ernesto Zedillo
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Nayan Chanda
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward




Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. His books include The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (2008), The Remains of Being (2009), and, most recently, Hermeneutic Communism (2011, coauthored with G. Vattimo), all published by Columbia University Press.

Society is supposed to be the realm within which citizens can practice their rights: artists can present their creations, scientists make their discoveries, and intellectuals interpret whether all of these are free and meaningful. This is probably why Karl Popper proposed the opposition of open and closed societies. But society can also refer to a civilization’s current political and cultural condition.

After all, since 9/11 we’ve become so alarmed (at terrorism, foreigners and financial crises) that we prefer to avoid mingling with other cultures, languages and spaces. Governments have used these fears to suspend constitutional rights and to enact unpopular policies. The intensification of security measures in airports, at borders and in metropolitan areas are not justified by actual threat, as we are meant to believe, but rather are useful to erect frames around our liberties and the projects of an open society. One of the most alarming consequences of this intensification of control is the disappearance of political alternatives – as if history, society and culture have ended. But have they?


Even though such terms as the ‘end of history,’ the ‘network society’ and the ‘culture of fear’ seem like simple journalistic slogans to describe our condition, we must continue to seek different interpretations of our age because they help us respond properly to its challenges. When Francis Fukuyama, Manuel Castells and Barry Glassner coined these terms, they were not simply trying to establish once and for all the conditions under which we live but rather to invite us to understand the current form of our world and to take a stand.

For example, when the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo explained that mass communication in the eighties gave birth to a “transparent society” where truth lost its meaning, he was not trying to disclose simply the inevitable conflict among different media outlets but also how we ought to live such conflict. In this society, according to Vattimo, everyone is required to become Friedrich Nietzsche’s “overman,” that is, an autonomous interpreter capable of living without certainties.

Philosophers often respond to the question of how we ought to live by declaring the end of epochs or concepts. Jean-François Lyotard declared the end of modernity; Arthur Danto that of art, and Slavoj Žižek, that of nature; perhaps we should also declare the end of emergencies, considering the level of global control and technological manipulation we’ve reached through the actions of Internet companies that can predict the future, drone interventions throughout the world, and the manipulation of our genes.

Recent emergencies such as the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone or the rise of ISIS could all have been avoided given the information and physical resources available. The problem is not only that these sorts of crises (as Naomi Klein explained) are often courted in order to implement free-market policies and military interventions but also that they belong to an age in which emergencies are framed; that is, they have lost the power to shock that they once had.


In this condition, as Martin Heidegger said in the 1940s, the “only emergency is the absence of emergency” because we are “framed” (Ge-stell) by a technological power we are no longer able to control. After all, emergencies, as the German thinker specified, do not arise when something doesn’t function correctly but rather when “everything functions . . . and propels everything more and more toward further functioning.” But ‘functioning’ is not all that matters. In domains such as art and medicine, it is essential to allow new creations and experiments to take place without restrictions from market-based power.

The same occurs in finance. The European Union requires its members to accept its technocrats’ austerity measures because it wants us to believe that neoliberalism is the only option we have and that for the well-being of the whole system it must continue to function without interruptions, alterations, or emergencies. Technocrats, whether economic or scientific, have become essential to society because their work consists of avoiding these alterations, that is, making sure we do not have opportunities to see the big picture. This is why Žižek recently pointed out that we must “prevent the narrow production of experts. This tendency, as I see it, is just horrible. We need, more than ever, those who, in a general way of thinking, see the problems from a global perspective and even from a philosophical perspective.” But how are we supposed to act in an age in which emergencies are framed?

History will continue to change the course of our lives, but it will also provide alternatives when necessary. But in order for this to happen, we must promote emergencies. This does not mean becoming an armed terrorist and physically menacing the citizens of global society; rather, we must strive to disclose those emergencies that are hidden by the neoliberal technocrats. This can take place through the human sciences (philosophy, sociology, history), which have always developed in opposition to the experimental sciences that are partially responsible for our framed condition today, and also through political action, by endorsing the alternative positions of ideologies such as communism, movements such as Occupy, or environmental groups.

What unites these positions is a different view not only of society but primarily of those emergencies we are encouraged to ignore: social inequalities, neoliberal control measures and environmental pollution. The promotion and exposure of emergencies has become an existential affair that we must all endorse if we care about our future.


Email Address
(not required) = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices = shared webhosting, dedicated servers, development/consulting, no down time/top security, exceptional prices
Film Ratings at Arts & Opinion - Montreal
Montreal Jazz Festival
2013 Longueuil Percussion Festival: 450 463-2692
Lynda Renée: Chroniques Québécois - Blog
Roberto Romei Rotondo Blog (UP YOURS)
2014 Montreal Francofolies Music Festival with Lynda Renée
Arion Baroque Orchestra Montreal
Bougie Hall Orchestera Montreal
Montreal Guitar Show July 2-4th (Sylvain Luc etc.). border=
Montreal World Film Festival
2013 Festival Nouveau Cinema de Montreal, Oct. 09-20st, (514) 844-2172
CINEMANIA (Montreal) - festival de films francophone 7-17th novembre, Cinema Imperial info@514-878-0082
2012 Festival Montreal en Lumiere
IMAGE + NATION film festival Nov. 22 - Dec. 2nd (Montreal)
Nuit d'Afrique: July 9th - July 21st
2012 Montreal International Documentary Festival Nov. 7th - 18th
2008 FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL (Montreal) North America's Premier Genre Festival July 3-21
Listing + Ratings of films from festivals, art houses, indie
2008 Jazz en Rafale Festival (Montreal) - Mar. 27th - April 5th -- Tél. 514-490-9613 ext-101
© Roberto Romei Rotondo
Festivalissimo Film Festival - Montreal: May 18th - June 5th (514 737-3033
CD Dignity by John Lavery available by e-mail: - 10$ + 3$ shipping.
April 29th to May 8th: Pan African Film Festival-Montreal
Armand Vaillancourt: sculptor
Canadian Tire Repair Scam [2211 boul Roland-Therrien, Longueuil] = documents-proofs
Valid HTML 4.01!
Privacy Statement Contact Info
Copyright 2002 Robert J. Lewis