Point de suture (continued)

A similar disease has gradually struck philosophy, to the point that in most circles today, it seems enough to label as philosophical any consideration that looks somewhat unusual or the usefulness of which does not seem immediately obvious, to feel entitled to discard it without any further examination.

A comparable although different movement started to develop after world war II regarding sciences. It was not contempt but a general attitude of fear and distrust, which might have been considered  as a result of the recent use of atomic weapons, if it had not quickly come to impact indiscriminately all sciences, and not just nuclear physics.

In the years 1965-1970 disenchantment spread to the products of Industry under the concept of the Consumer Society.

In the following years, the development of Industry and Technology itself were questioned by what has since been called Ecology.

At the end of the process, the only aspect of culture that had eluded so many successive waves of critics happened to be Religion.

Considered on a daily basis, this evolution in the  representations seemed natural, just as seemed natural the semantic shift, by which the French word culture has come to simply mean "human". So that finally everything happened to be cultural and vice versa, and it should also be noted that this shift has been accompanied by a considerable extension of the entertainment industry.

Yet, in spite of this evolution, there were several historical periods when culture had a quite different meaning and when it seemed obvious to all that the Arts had no other purpose than human development.

However, during these times, quite on the opposite of the image that now has become widespread, there was nothing such as a general feeling or idea of a systematic and inexorable march towards progress. 

Instead, the general attitude was a thoughtful and reasoned movement,  mindful of the risks, involving judgment and collective decision and its core engine was not only based  on  novelty but also on the effectiveness of a permanent critical activity.

When considered as a whole and from some distance, the current  disenchantment regarding Art, Sciences, Technology and Industry expresses the fact that, despite their efforts and ceaseless agitation, men are not very satisfied with what they make. All they had undertaken in order to perceive, feel, think and act further and higher now seems all too often to lead to opposite results.

This situation may seem paradoxical, since the eclipse of the gods has graced men with a mandatory quota of 24 hours of freedom per day. It may be seen as a result of this ironical process by which dialectic eventually turns all things into their opposites. Or one may discern in this evolution the movement of alienation by which human activity becomes foreign. Actually, all sorts of fatalities may be invoked. Fatalities are always at hand and easy going.

But it may also be that wisdom is not on the side of resignation.  It may be that it would be wiser to simply try to understand .

Maybe would it be enough not to accept and to rekindle the embers of a dialogue between Science and Arts [1] - to bring the contours,  of course never free of errors or of risks, of some sort of perspective.

Such an attempt may well look as being out of place in the present historical period, it may appear as useless why care as long as it has a chance to be beautiful. 

It may also be that there is no other way out.


Point de suture - Pierre Petiot - Mars 2008

1 - Which remained possible at least until the early twentieth century, as may be seen from the relations between Valéry, Mallarmé et Poincaré