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Posts Tagged ‘Teoría de las Ideas’

 “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
“Fictional Universes and their effects on Reality”:
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 “Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

“Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

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►About Jorge Luis Borges, author of  “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: 
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Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986).

Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986) was an Argentine writer, acclaimed in many other countries.

“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” originally appeared in Spanish in “Sur magazine” in may 1940. It was then published in book form in “Antología de la Literatura Fantástica” (december 1940), then in Borges’s 1941 collection “El Jardín de Senderos que se Bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking Paths”). That entire book was, in turn, included within “Ficciones” (1944).
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Synopsis. Structure. Points of View (POVs):
Synopsis: The narrator (Borges) randomly comes across an article about a region called Uqbar. He then finds an Encyclopedia about Tlön (a country in Uqbar). The enigmatic story reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius.
Structure, and Points of View (POVs)The story is divided into three parts.
The Points of Views in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius are basically two.
First Person, when the actions of the story are filtered through the observations of one character. Present in the first section, as a protagonist. 
Third Person; Predominantly Objective in the second and third section (postscript), but with Omniscient/all-knowing features in the postscript, as well. (For more about Points of View, check out Jeri Walker´s thorough post: “Picking a Point of View”).
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►”Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
Detailed summary and analysis by sections:
tlon__uqbar__orbis_tertius1) ♠In the first section, the narrator and his friend and writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares,  discuss a hypothetical novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions” (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
The mirror in the hallway reminds Bioy Casares of an article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia  about a country named Uqbar.
Casares then quotes a saying he remembers from a heresiarch of Uqbar: “Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind”. (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Borges asks him where he had found that quote. Casares believed that Uqbar, along with the quotation, was catalogued in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. Borges also has that same book in his place, but oddly it does not mention Uqbar, so he asks Bioy for further details. The following day, Bioy Casares brings him a copy containing the entry on Uqbar, with the quotation he had paraphrased.
There is something very interesting when it comes to the narrative structure here. It all starts with the apocryphal quotation, a sort of riddle that leads to an enlargement occurring in a staggered form: From the discovery of the text, to the imaginary country called Uqbar (vaguely situated in Asia, according to the article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia) and then to Tlön (one of the two regions of Uqbar, alongside Mlejnas).
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2) ♠The second section describes the narrator’s discovery of a volume of the Encyclopedia of Tlön, left behind in a bar by an Englishman, Herbert Ashe. This happens in 1937, meaning two years after Bioy Casares and Borges´ first knowledge of Uqbar and Tlön. Ashe´s manuscript  was the eleventh volume of a complete Encyclopedia surveying the imaginary city of Tlön.
The volume has on its first page a stamped blue oval inscribed “Orbis Tertius” (“third orb,” in Latin).
According to Borges, this encyclopedia entails a methodical and orderly infinitesimal plan, devised by a sect.
Borges describes some of the characteristics and features of Tlön and its people, based on the volume of the Encyclopedia he had found.
We can summarize some of the main points as:
-Tlön is divided in two hemispheres. In none of these hemispheres, nouns are included in their languages.
-People of this imaginary planet are “idealist” and do not believe in the material, objective existence of their surroundings.
-The world itself is understood as a series of mental processes lacking temporal duration. The lack of spatial relations across time lead to a distorted conception of identity. 
berkeleyThe philosopher Berkeley is mentioned by Borges as a referent in Tlön. Of course, not in practical way but more as Borges´interpretation. Bishop George Berkeley (18th century) was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” or “subjective idealism”. This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that objects are only ideas in the minds of perceiver and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived.
Berkeley believed God to be present as an immediate cause of all our experiences.
Here is Berkeley’s proof of the existence of God: “Whatever power I may have over my own thoughts, I find the ideas actually perceived by Sense have not a like dependence on my will. When in broad daylight I open my eyes, it is not in my power to choose whether I shall see or no, or to determine what particular objects shall present themselves to my view; and so likewise as to the hearing and other senses; the ideas imprinted on them are not creatures of my will. There is therefore some other Will or Spirit that produces them”. (Berkeley. Principles #29).
Inhabitants of the imaginary Tlön hold an extreme form of George Berkeley’s subjective idealism, denying the reality of the world.
Their world is seen not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.
Borges says: “The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language – religion, letters, metaphysics – all presuppose idealism. The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial”. (Page 7, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
But Tlön is a world of Berkeleyan idealism with one critical omission: it lacks the omnipresent, perceiving deity on whom Berkeley relied as a point of view demanding an internally consistent world.
The idea of eternal present appears in the second section.
Aristotle (384 /322) .

Aristotle (384 /322) .

Borges mentions: “One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to negate time: it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality other than as a present memory” (Page 8, according to University of Yale´s transcript).

The idea of time as Indefinite Present could be linked to Aristotle. Aristotle argues that the essence of time is the now, to nun.  
The “now” is given simultaneously as that which is no longer and as that which is not yet. Aristotle defines time as “a number of change in respect of the before and after”. As time implies a sense of a before and after, for Aristotle time is the coming-to-be and passing-away of nows moving in an irreversible, lineal way.
The First Encyclopedia of Tlön makes reference to two types of special objects: hronirs and urs
Hronirs are lost objects that could be found, or better said “produced” by people or animals. They entail a sort of duplication, being somehow clones or copies of the original object.
But, Borges suggests that a copy of another hronir would be deficient: “Curiously, the hronir of second and third degree – the hronir derived from another hron, those derived from the hron of a hron – exaggerate the aberrations of the initial one”. (Page 12, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Furthermore, Borges states that according to an experiment done with Tlön inmates: “expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory (when it comes to produce the secondary objects)” (Page 11, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
He also says that the reverse can occur: “Things became duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. A classic example is the doorway which survived so long it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death” (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript). 
Finally, Borges also mentions a different type of secondary objects: Urs.  “An ur is the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope”. (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

The description of Hronirs, and especially how the copies might be defective could be linked to Walter Benjamin´s idea of “loss of the aura”. In his essay, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Benjamin-one of the most well-known members of the Frankfurt School describes the so-called “loss of the aura”, in the context of mechanical reproduction of art. The aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. In the age of mechanical reproduction, mass consumption is the cause of the loss of the aura, and, therefore, the loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. However, for Walter Benjamin, a distance from the aura is a good thing. The loss of the aura has the potential to open up the politicization of art, whether or not that opening is detrimental or beneficial is yet to be determined.

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3) ♠Third and last section (Postcript):  The postscript reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius. This society worked for three hundred years and came up with the imaginary lands Uqbar and Tlön.
In his postcript, Borges notes several “intrusions” of Tlön into the real world, the most notable being the 1942 discovery of a Tlönian artifact in the hand of a dying man: a small metal cone of unknown material which was inexplicably heavy.
Borges says that all forty volumes of the Encyclopedia of Tlön were discovered and published in a library in Memphis. The material then became accessible worldwide, and immensely influential on Earth’s culture, science and languages. By the time Borges concludes the story (presumably in 1947) the world is already gradually disintegrating and transforming into Tlön. Besides, every domain of human knowledge has been rewritten to accommodate the truths of Tlön, and Borges expects the process to continue in the future.
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Final Thoughts:
Based on a very complex temporal structure, this short story consists of three parts and two moments of enunciation. That is, the first part introduces Uqbar; the second presents Tlön; and the third, Orbis Tertius.
Also, the first two parts were, according to the fiction itself, written in 1940, while the third was written in  1947.
However as previously mentioned, this short story was first published in 1940.
The passage of time has diluted the effect that Borges sought and, instead, has favored the erroneous assumption that he added the postscript at the historical, “actual”  date of 1947.
anglo-american-cyclopedia1The three stages of the same plan are revealed through two texts: The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia entails the discovery of Uqbar. The First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, leads to know about the fantastic planet called Tlön, while the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe, explains plans and contingencies of the society Orbis Tertius. These three texts are either copies, or give birth of them.
The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a Fallacious copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Besides, the literalness of The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a hoax, as only in one volume of three the characters managed to find the article on Uqbar.
In this same line of analysis, although the narrator refers to the original text of the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, in the postscript a second version of that encyclopedia is mentioned.
This newest version also distorts its original. At least as far as the eleventh volume concerns. The volumen that the narrator found in 1937 is modified in the version exhumed in 1944. The modifications refer to certain “incredible features”, such as the curious objects that duplicate in Tlön, the hrönir.
Finally, the Postcript suggests that the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe might have been reproduced in order to publicize the existence of Tlön and its imminent invasion of Reality. The narrator (Borges himself) is included in this work, summarizing the content of the letter.
Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

The duplication and proliferation of copies  might allude to Plato´s Theory of Forms

In his dialogue Phaedo, Plato defends the world of the archetypes (Ideas/Forms)  by comparing it with the sensible world. While the Idea or archetype contains within itself an absolute and immutable value, the sensible copy reproduces this value in a partial, nether degree. 
In “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” the Platonic attitude of disdain towards copies is enunciated from the beginning, with the imprecise quote that Bioy Casares mentions and which Borges attunes, later on.
Back to the quote, not only mirrors and copulation multiply and spread the universe. It seems that texts also do. In this sense, multiplication tends to alter the reproduced texts (simplifying them or modifying them). However, when it comes to the subsequent development of the encyclopedias in this story, one could conclude that the copies might “improve” the respective originals.
globe-glassDisorted Copies and Mirrors are elements that relate one to each other.
The mirror in Borges appears as a sort of unifying element between Reality and Fantasy. The perfect symbiosis between the real and the Fictional world ultimately demarcates the limits of the mirror.
In the case of Tlön, the narrative is constructed as a mirror. The image reflected is a “distorted and parodied” image of our own Culture.
Tlön is presented before hand as unreal, to finally persuade us that fictional planet is our world.
The resource used in this story is to render unlikely any event of reality. We could conclude that mental facts have woven a warp of such real consistency that it reaches the “real” world, introducing doubts to the reader.
On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

This short story has both detective novel and dystopian novel elements.
In the first sense, the crime here described is the proliferation of fiction in the world of the narrator.

Or, said in other words, the death of reality due to the effects caused by the multiplication of Tlön:

“The contact and the habit of Tlön have disintegrated this world. Enchanted by its rigor, humanity forgets over and again that it is a rigor of chess masters, not of angels. Already the schools have been invaded by the (conjectural) “primitive language” of Tlön; already the teaching of its harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has wiped out the one which governed in my childhood; already a fictitious past occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which we know nothing with certainty – not even a that it is false…. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.  Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön“.  (Page 16, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Speculation is necessary here. For fiction to affect reality until it is annihilated, as happens when Tlön -as invention- influences reality, certain coherence is required. That is why, as we have seen, Borges´jigsaws, characters and researches are purely intellectual. Being these strategic elements of the genre available, a “real” world (the narrator’s) is constructed, as opposed to the “unreal” world of Tlön (which, however, is also made up of ideas). This is what allows Reality to be annihilated by Fiction.
As to the Dystopian factor, it is worth highlighting that the secret society Orbis Tertius had planned a textual conspiracy, directed to operate through a series of speeches and aiming to subjugate humanity. Subjugation subtly occurs Language, implying a perversion of rhetoric.
Taking this interpretation further, the disappearance of “English, French and Spanish” could allude to the Third Reich project of destroying the heterogeneity of civilization in favor of the predominance of a superior “race”.
Finally, the Dystopian element is surreptitiously expressed in the use of language (Otherwise, and also, as a resource of Power).
The story begins with a memory of Bioy Casares extracted from an apocryphal book. It ends with a destructive invasion of the real world by “objects” (which are nothing else but ideas) from a false world, published by an apocryphal book: the First Encyclopaedia of Tlön.
In fine, the story as a whole seems to contain an otherwise positive warning, about the limitations of language.
Language, without more reference than itself, can not allow us to distinguish between the apocryphal and the authentic, between what is false and what is true.🔚
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➰☑️ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:

►Read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges.

Translation to English from Yale University. Click Here. 

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►Links Post:
http://art.yale.edu/file_columns/0000/0066/borges.pdf
http://ciudadseva.com/texto/tlon-uqbar-orbis-tertius/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tl%C3%B6n,_Uqbar,_Orbis_Tertius
http://jeriwb.com/picking-a-point-view-57117/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BxOE3bO6SM&t=14m2s
http://hyperallergic.com/75485/borges-and-xul-solar-illuminating-an-artistic-friendship/
http://losojosdeborges.blogspot.com.ar/2004/12/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius.html
http://ficcionesborges.blogspot.com.ar/2005/05/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius-sobre-lo.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Berkeley
https://belate.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/aristotle-definition-of-time-in-physics/
https://frankfurtschool.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/summary-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction/
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►Philosophy: “Plato´s Cave and Fifteen Million Merits” (Black Mirror):

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Hello readers! This is a post in collaboration with Christy Birmingham, from Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire. You might wonder how the idea of writing this post came up. Well, basically, I had begun watching Season Three of Black Mirror, which was recently released on Netflix. I told Christy how much I liked it, and, from that moment, we started chatting about the series. Soon after, Christy watched “The Entire History of You”, which is the third episode of the first season, followed by “Fifteen Million Merits” (the second episode of the same season).

We discussed both episodes. And we decided to do a post on the latter. Therefore, this complete post was a result of the exchanges of points of views. But each one of us focused on particular themes.

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Christy Birmingham

Christy wrote about Abi (before and after “Hot Shot”), the concept of being overweight (as it is socially considered and shown in this episode), and added the final thoughts. She also had a major task proofreading the entire article and helping me sort out doubts along the process. For all this, I wish to take the opportunity to convey my gratitude to Christy.

As to me, I wrote other parts of the review, the allegory of the cave, and the ending section concerning the existing analogies between Plato´s Allegory of the Cave and this episode.

With that being said, keep in mind that you can watch this episode of Black Mirror on Netflix or here. Thanks for dropping by and we hope you enjoy the reading. 

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⇒The Allegory of the Cave:

Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of  “The Republic”, Book VII (514a–520a).

In the allegory, Plato likens people to prisoners chained in an underground cave, unable to turn their heads.

All they can see is the wall of the cave, upon which shadows of the world above are thrown.

The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. These so-called “puppeteers” are just people outside the cave who walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads. Hence, what the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see, believing that the shadows of objects are real objects.

One of the prisoners then is freed from their bindings and leaves the cave.

Blinded by the light, he is unable to see anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But, eventually, his eyes adjust to the light. Finally, he beholds the sun, which is the main source of knowledge. 

As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong.

But he is despised when he returns to the cave. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.

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The allegory of the Cave explains Plato´s Theory of Forms.

The Theory of Forms maintains that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds that we inhabit and the intelligible world of Forms that stands above the visible world and gives it being. The visible world or World of Appearances consists of Images and Visible Things. But images have less entity than visible things (tangible things). In the Intelligible World we have the mathematical objects (not important for this analysis) and The Forms. 

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

For Plato, the Forms were basically the Ideas (also called Essences behind the visible Things).

Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist. Things are “useful” because as they allow us to recognize the Idea or Form behind and Beyond them. 

An example concerns the Idea of Beauty. All the beautiful things we can see are beautiful only because they participate in the more general Form of Beauty. This Form of Beauty is itself invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that can grow old and lose their beauty. This applies to all objects, as they are ideas for them too. Natural objects, such as trees and animals each link back to their respective Form or Idea. As to manufactured objects, that´s a different issue as Plato would rather consider them “artificial”; meaning “images of Things” (and so that was the case for Plato with all artistic creations, for instance).

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits:

Black Mirror is a British television series created by Charlie Brooker that features dark, speculative fiction and examines modern society, particularly with regard to the unanticipated consequences of new technologies.

This series has three seasons so far, and it streams on Netflix. 

Fifteen Million Merits is the second episode of Season One of the series.

The episode depicts a society in which people have to generate the energy that runs the entire society, pedaling on stationary bikes for hours at a time. This is a world where technological pleasure and instant gratification always depend on computers, where the real world and the virtual world are completely intertwined and almost everything natural has been replaced by technology. 

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“Fifteen Million Merits” has all of these elements. It is also a satirical approach to the capitalist society from a technological perspective. Characters are mainly clients and their “money” is a fungible value. Not money, though, but “merits” instead. The idea of merit, rather, seems to respond to the demands of a society in which  the Division of Labor is no longer needed. 

So, basically, everyone plays the same role. Each individual is both a creator and consumer of manufacturing inputs. Besides, leisure time and working time are not clearly divided. While people work (pedalling to generate energy), they are allowed to watch television.

Everyone wears grey clothes, except those who clean the place, who wear yellow and are most times bullied and even depicted in video games as “targets” to shoot.

The cleaners wear bright yellow outfits, which is in sharp contrast to the blasé grey sweat suits of the peddlers. Look closely at the cleaners, who carry dust bins and brooms, and notice that they are all overweight.

Soon it becomes clear in the TV episode that their weight relates to why they are cleaners rather than peddlers, and that being a cleaner is a job that is beneath the people on the bikes. For example, one very excitable man on a bike taunts the workers whenever they come around him. He mocks the outfit and weight of one male cleaner, who never talks back to him.

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It seems that when a person becomes overweight, they are removed from the bike work and put to work cleaning the floor instead.

There are many issues being brought up here. Firstly, the way society is organized is that overweight people are considered lower-class citizens. Fitness is considered a strength while being large is symbolic of the weak.

Also, there is obviously bullying going on here, from a “higher” class of society to a “lower” one. Being bullied for a person’s weight is something that happens today, but Fifteen Million Merits takes it to a whole new level in the future.

Aside from talking down to the cleaners, the people in grey outfits also shoot at the yellow figures who appear in video games. The yellow people who look like the floor cleaners are part of games that are similar to “Call of Duty”. They are shot at by the peddlers on the bike and the shooting games continue when the peddlers return to their homes too.

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Furthermore, if people are not working at same sole task, they are locked in their prison cell of video screens that cover every surface from floor to ceiling, pumping out an endless stream of inane comedy, reality TV and softcore porn. It is worth noting though that under these televisual circumstances, there is no place for intimacy. Being spectators of TV shows means that you appear in the show as an avatar who makes your reactions public .

We could assume that this “world” is the result of some sort of energy crisis. Hence, the population is needed to power their lights instead. Their existence is pretty miserable to contemplate; so much of the energy is used to distract the same citizenry as they perform their mundane tasks.

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The story has two main characters. Bing and Abi.

Bing is confronted with an artificial, media-saturated world, and yet he is hungry for something more.

Like most dystopian stories, he gets a hint that there could be something more when he meets the pretty Abi, and soon after he hears her singing, he falls for her.

Her innocence and naïvety are attractive to Bing, but her singing hints at something even deeper.  In his eyes, her beauty is something that goes beyond everything,  in a world covered with dark multimedia screens (black mirrors).

Even if they don´t have physical contact (there is an occasion when they briefly hold hands in an elevator, though), there is something magical between them, a spark of reality, so to speak.

There is symbol which seems to represent their bond. The little penguin, which recurrently appears.  It probably represents “something lost” (maybe Nature as it seems the characters are locked and pent-up in a “fake” world where real things are barely available).

This little animal appears many times throughout the episode as an origami penguin, carefully folded by Abi. Besides, Abi´s avatar wears a dress with penguins on it. And, at the end of the episode, the penguin motif takes on a quite heart-breaking significance at the episode’s conclusion, as Bing has a statue of a penguin in his luxurious but minimalist penthouse.
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Abi and Bing´s relationship is good. But, that’s just the beginning of the story. In a world where everything is a spectacle, where everything can be objectified, repackaged and sold back to an always hungry viewership, what happens with feelings and with human experiences?.

That´s when the we learn about “Hot Shot”, as an equivalent to “The X Factor” or “American Idol” in this episode, which seems to be the entrance to fame and a life free of duties (the bike).

“Hot Shot” depicts pretty much a “roman circus”.

abi2The committee on the TV-show “Hot Shot” consist of three judges named “Wraith”, “Hope”, and “Charity”. The theological virtues of Christianity are “Faith”, “Hope” and “Charity”. These were traditionally the path to follow in order to attain salvation. The change from “Faith” to “Wraith” is justified because our faith is now on the virtual world. The new salvation is to be successful, to obtain a more real virtuality.

Bing is so charmed by Abi´s song that he spends his dead brother’s 15 million merits to get her on “Hot Shot”, where she’s an instant sensation. Drugged by some sort of milk called “Cuppliance” (which is a composed word, resulting of the sum of “cup” and “compliance”), she goes along with Judge Wraith and becomes a porn star, in a wrenching twist.

Celebrity culture entails a sort of moral nihilism, the show in question leads to a dark voyeurism, which goes deep into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness, and betrayal. Spectators appear as avatars, a crowded, anonymous audience facing the stage, staring at the contestants while they are just watching the screen in their cells (and represented as avatars in the audience).

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The crowd starts to chant for Abi to take the spot offered to her by the judge to become a porn star. In this case, when Abi is on stage, having drunk the “Cuppliance” beverage, she gives in to the social pressure of the crowd. While she is uncomfortable with the idea of becoming a porn star, as shown by her hesitation, the crowd’s chanting become gets stronger and louder.

Abi is being bullied. After all, the floor cleaners are not the only ones bullied in this society. She is being harassed digitally, which we can already see happening in real life today with death threats on Facebook and Twitter, for example. We soon learn the negative impacts of intimidation when we see the career that Abi ends up feeling forced to choose.

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In addition to the bullying, Abi is also submitting to something bigger than herself, which happens in many societies today. Whether you call it peer pressure (the crowd) or the pressure of authority (the judges), or a combination of the two, this Black Mirror episode takes the influence of others to the extreme. She wants approval, as so many people do in the world today.

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But Abi suffers terribly for getting this approval. She enters the porn world, as the judges and audience both encouraged her to do, and soon videos of her being demoralized by men are flashed across digital screens everywhere. While she no longer has to ride the bike all day, her new role is demeaning, including an image on the screens of a man putting his finger into her mouth and she is physically beneath him, which shows he has the power over her, body and all.

Abi is now officially part of the “Wraith Babes” stream that has “the hottest girls in the nastiest situations” as the announcer’s voice on the stream repeatedly says when it is shown on screens. So sad, as no girl says that she wants to grow up to star in pornography. Instead, Abi – like some women in today’s world – have been pressured into doing degrading sexual acts to please others. It is a depressing look at women’s bodies being exploited for the instant gratification of other people.

This example of Ali is taken to the extreme in a few ways. Firstly, she is viewed by Bing as being pure and innocent, including having an angelic voice; she is the ultimate example of peer pressure’s consequences. Also, the pornography featuring her is spread across huge digital screens for everyone to see, rather than being viewed on private websites or seedy theaters.

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Once Abi is caught in the porn universe, the ads featuring her torture a broken Bing. He destroys his room and sets upon a revenge mission, earning another shot on the show and giving a rough speech with a shard of glass pointed at his neck. The sequence in question is perfectly done.

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It is mostly an act of rebellion that leaves the audience numb and silent until  Judge Hope proclaims it the most heartfelt thing they’ve ever seen on the show. Soon after the Judge´s evaluation, the audience begin to cheer and clap hands in a standing ovation.

Bings´s speech is a little bit of the major irony here. He speaks out the truth (maybe because he cheats and avoid drinking the beverage Abi had when she performed, as he had hidden the dispenser under his bed).

Judge Hope says he is deeply moved by his words and offers him to have his own show twice a week for half an hour each. And Bing, persuaded by the judge and audience, accepts. 

So, ultimately he also sells himself out. In other words, he becomes entertainment himself. Speaking trite truths about consumerism and vociferating sold out prejudices concerning non-genuine life. While using the glass in his throat while he speaks, in a threatening tone as if he is going to commit suicide. 

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⇒Concluding Thoughts on Fifteen Million Merits:

As with the other Black Mirror episodes, Fifteen Million Merits is a smart hour of science fiction television. It shows a dark side of technology and the excesses that the world could come to in the future if electronic devices are not used wisely by humans. It could wind up that the world is short on energy, that we cannot get away from digital screens, and that bullying is a bigger side-effect of a tech-savvy lifestyle than ever before.

But, perhaps we have to squirm in our seats watching this kind of television to be able to make more sense of the world, our place in it, and how to use technology responsibly in the future.

Or, it could just be that we recognize that technology can also challenge our ways of thinking about the future, human nature, and electronic gadgets. What we know for sure is that we do not plan to buy or wear a grey sweat suit anytime soon.

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⇒Fifteen Million Merits and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave:

The interrelations between this episode and Plato´s Allegory of the Cave could be summarized as follows.

People´s approach of Reality is given basically through images of things. These things are screen images, and all sorts of images most times on the screens, of the cells or on TVs in front of the Bikes.

People are represented by avatars, meaning by images of themselves, the merits are charged to those avatars, as if it was a video game.

Most importantly, people are prisoners of a cave.

They live locked up there. Everyone has his own cells, in which each perimeter consists of screens.

The screens  continuously emit shows and do so unless it is the night. 

If the prisoner wants to watch a show, he´ll have to pay for it. And if he wants to skip ads, he´ll have to do the same.

The main shows are hosted and owned by the Judges of the show “Hot Shot” (Judge Charity, Judge Hope and Judge Wraith). So, basically, the Judges are somehow the puppeteers.

Bing is the “released prisoner”. After Abi´s performance and after she enters the Porn Industry (hired by Judge Wraith), he begins to see images as things, so to speak. The scene in the elevator, in which the main characters hold hands, is quite meaningful and one could even say it is a hinge moment.

Bing´s speech in “Hot Shot” shows that he is somehow the philosopher. The one who has a sharp intellect. 

Bing’s awakening makes evident the fact that the system is a huge lie and that the ideals proposed by power are alienating people instead of making them happier. Having seen the light, which is paradoxically darkness as it has to do with Abi´s prostitution, he wants to tell his former fellow prisoners about his experiences, as a sort of revolutionary leader would do. He tries to raise awareness.   

But, the irony here is that even if Judge Hope gives him the credit for his “moving” speech, whilst highlighting the importance of being “genuine”, he is not taken seriously, at least in the expected terms.

Judge Hope (who would be a sort of Crowd Pleaser) takes him to his own  field and beats him, once there.

Bing becomes an entertainer, and of the system he was defying. Light beyond the screens is unattainable as we can see in the last sequence of the episode, when he looks through a big window something that could be both thing: a real landscape or… even something more sinister: a landscape digitalized image on yet another screen.

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You can watch this episode of Black Mirror here and/or here. 

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Links Post:
https://goo.gl/bJ7PDQ
https://goo.gl/5bk0NS
https://goo.gl/9vq3JW
https://goo.gl/oO4nKy
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♠ Plato´s “Republic”: “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the Divided Line”:

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

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Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is written as a dialogue between Plato’s teacher Socrates and Plato’s brother Glaucon at the beginning of “The Republic” Book VII (514a–520a). This allegory is presented after the analogy of the sun (507b–509c) and the analogy of the divided line (509d–513e). 

In the allegory, Plato likens people untutored in the Theory of Forms to prisoners chained in a cave, unable to turn their heads. All they can see is the wall of the cave. Behind them burns a fire.  Between the fire and the prisoners there is a parapet, along which puppeteers can walk. The puppeteers, who are behind the prisoners, hold up puppets that cast shadows on the wall of the cave. The puppeteers are just people outside the cave walk along this walkway, who presumably carry things on their heads including; animals, plants, wood and stone.

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Here is an illustration based on the whole description of the Cave:

Plato´s Allegory of the Cave.-

Plato´s Allegory of the Cave.-

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►Description: “The Allegory of the Cave”:

►The prisoners, the cave and the shadows:

The prisoners are unable to see these puppets, the real objects, that pass behind them. 

What the prisoners see and hear are shadows and echoes cast by objects that they do not see.  Here is an illustration of Plato’s Cave.

Such prisoners wou ld mistake appearance for reality. As they had never seen the real objects ever before, they believe that the shadows of objects are real objects.

► The Game:

Plato suggests that the prisoners would begin a ‘game’ of guessing which shadow would appear next. If one of the prisoners were to correctly guess, the others would praise him as the most clever.

 ►Departure:

One of the prisoners then escapes from their bindings and leaves the cave. He is shocked at the world he notices outside the cave and does not believe it can be real. As he becomes used to his new surroundings, he realizes that his former view of reality was wrong. He begins to understand this world. He is first able to see only shadows of things. Next he can see the reflections of things in water and later is able to see things themselves. He is then able to look at the stars and moon by night and finally he is able to look upon the sun. Finally, he is able to behold the sun, which is the main source of knowledge.

►Return to the Cave: 

The prisoner returns to the cave, to inform the other prisoners of his findings. They do not believe him and threaten to kill him if he tries to set them free.

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►Video: “The Allegory of the Cave”:

The Allegory of the Cave (Animated). Click on the image above to watch the video at YouTube.-

Video: The Allegory of the Cave (Animated). Click on the image above to watch it at YouTube.-

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►The Allegory of the Cave: Symbolism and General Meaning:

The escaped prisoner represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave and outside of the senses.

The Sun represents philosophical truth and knowledge. 

The prisoner´s intellectual journey represents a philosopher´s journey when finding truth and wisdom.

In this sense, the Allegory of the Cave is an attempt to explain the philosopher’s place in society

The other prisoners reaction to the escapee returning represents that people are scared of knowing philosophical truths and do not trust philosophers.

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The analogy of the sun (Excerpt of Plato´s "Republic").-

The analogy of the Sun (Excerpt of Plato´s “Republic”).-

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► “The Allegory of the Cave and the Analogy of the divided line”:

 

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A & B: THE PHYSICAL WORLD: “APPEARANCE”

Thus A represents shadows and reflections of physical things, and B the physical things themselves. These correspond to two kinds of knowledge, the illusion (εἰκασία eikasia) of our ordinary, everyday experience, and belief (πίστις pistis) about discrete physical objects which cast their shadows.

→Method to achieve knowledge: In A, the eye makes guesses upon observing likenesses of visible things.

→Method to achieve knowledge: In B, the eye makes probable predictions upon observing visible things

 A & B: The Visible World in The Allegory of the Cave

A: BOUND REAR OF CAVE. SHADOWS PROJECTIONS. (SHADOWS, REFLECTIONS, ETC).

B: UNBOUND: FIGURES PROJECTING SHADOWS. (OBJECTS/THINGS).

C & D: THE “INTELLIGIBLE WORLD” (FORMS/IDEAI): “REALITY”

C involves  mathematical reasoning (διάνοια dianoia). There  abstract mathematical objects such as geometric lines are discussed. Such objects are outside the physical world (and are not to be confused with the drawings of those lines, which fall within the physical world B).

→Method to achieve knowledge: In C, the Psyche assumes hypotheses while making use of likenesses, always moving towards final conclusions.

D includes the subjects of philosophical understanding (νόησις noesis).

→In D, knowledge is achieved by the method of dialectic, “using the hypotheses not as first principles, but only as hypotheses — that is to say, as steps and points of departure into a world which is above hypotheses, in order that she may soar beyond them to the first principle of the whole” (511b)

C & D: The Intelligible World in The Allegory of the Cave:

C: OUTSIDE AND DAZZLED BY THE SUNSHINE, THE PRISONER SEES ONLY SHADOWS (LOWER FORMS)

D: ADJUSTED TO BRIGHT SUNLIGHT, THE PRISONER PERCEIVES VISIBLE OBJECTS AND APPREHENDS THE SUN (HIGHER FORMS).

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►The Allegory of the Cave, The Analogies of the Divided line and the Sun & the Theory of Forms:

The Allegory of the Cave, The analogy of the divided line and the analogy of the Sun are related to Plato’s Theory of Formsaccording to which the “Forms” (or “Ideas“), and not the material world of change known to us through sensation, possess the highest and most fundamental kind of reality.

Only knowledge of the Forms constitutes real knowledge. 

For Plato’s Forms are not mental entities, nor even mind-dependent. They are independently existing entities whose existence and nature are graspable only by the mind, even though they do not depend on being so grasped in order to exist.

The dialogue Phaedo” contains an extended description of the characteristics and functions of the forms: 

•Unchangeable (78c10-d9).

•Eternal (79d2)

•Intelligible, not perceptible (79a1-5)

•Divine (80a3, b1)

•Incorporeal (passim)

•Causes of being (“The one over the many”) (100c)

Are unqualifiedly what their instances are only with qualification (75b)

Other dialogues fill out the picture: •non-temporal (“Timaeus” 37e-38a); •non-spatial (“Phaedrus” 247c); •they do not become, they simply are (“Timaeus” 27d3-28a3).

 

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Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

 

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►Links Post:

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/thforms.htm

http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/cave.htm

https://aquileana.wordpress.com/2007/07/29/32/

 
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