Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Three steps for inverse hindsighting


Guess: What word was the most used by the Prime Minister, the police chiefs and the News Co heir in the parliamentary sessions about the phone hacking scandal? Without a proper count I would bet on 'hindsight'. At least I am sure that in the last couple of days I've heard it much more than it is usual. Cameron, the Sheriffs and the Murdochs, they all used it several times in the select committees and in the House of Commons. It is a good word and it has proved handy.

I looked it up. It means “recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence”. Check. They’ve all deployed 'hindsight' according to its exact definition. But can one be a bit more daring? Like, I can give you some hindsight for the future.... Or: Now it is time to start thinking with future hindsight.... Mmm, it might not work. Maybe the best is to avoid the word altogether. So let’s try three easy steps for not having to use 'hindsight' ever again:

1- Do not judge the people you hire just for what they tell you or for their performance at work. Especially if they are being accused of fostering something sneaky like phone hacking, assume that they will not necessarily announce it or let it show in what you see them doing. Chances are they may be very competent in the tasks they are assigned and even work on their free time watching footage from the hidden camera in your toilet.

2- Stop associating free press with lack of regulation. Acknowledge that the latter has actually contributed to monopoly, hence less free press. Reject operations of concentration of media under a corporation already too big too be manageable. Regulation from the State may work better than regulation from a boardroom on the other side of the ocean.

3- Try to understand why everyone goes on about investigative journalism but it was the Guardian, a cooperative business, using legal means we think, the one newspaper responsible for unveiling this truth. What would happen if the Guardian didn’t exist? What if News International owned it? It may be a great idea for the Police, the PM and the directors of News Corporation, following their hindsight admission of complete failure in discovering the truth under their noses, to thank the Guardian for doing it for them.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Medo do Escuro

O menino entrou no quarto. Deitou-se. Que monstros haveria debaixo da cama? Melhor nem espreitar. Apagaram a luz. O medo aumentou. Agora os monstros podiam sair, andar livres por todo o quarto. Como seriam esses monstros? Fechou os olhos. Ouviu o som de um interruptor. Será que acenderam a luz? Só havia uma maneira de descobrir. Mas agora os monstros estavam tão vivos na cabeça do menino que ele temeu abrir os olhos. Ouviu de novo o som do interruptor. Ganhou coragem para abrir os olhos. A mesma escuridão onde os monstros dançavam. Se calhar apagaram a luz outra vez. Será que foram os monstros? O medo cresceu. Gemeu. Pensou levantar-se e acender ele a luz. Mas uma voz parou-o, “Está tudo bem,” ouviu-se do outro lado da porta, “eu estou aqui.” O menino escondeu-se debaixo do cobertor sem entender porque é que gostava de ouvir aquela voz apesar de ela fazer os bichos crescerem e ficarem mais assustadores. “E não acendas a luz senão eles acordam e ficam muito zangados”.
Na manhã seguinte, com os olhos em papas, o menino aproximou-se da mesa e estendeu o cartão de eleitor. Recebeu o boletim, entrou na cabine deixando a cortina semiaberta para se sentir mais seguro. A fotografia do seu protector destacava-se entre as caras dos monstros com quem tinha dormido. Não demorou mais do que 2 segundos a marcar a cruz.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Post-..."Tomorrow composts today"

“So it was I had my first experience with the Accelerator. Practically we had been running about and saying and doing all sorts of things in the space of a second or so of time. (…) But the effect it had upon us was that the whole world had stopped for our convenient inspection.” H.G.Wells, 1901, The New Accelerator in Modern Short Stories,

The growth of cities has created bigger opportunities for (and was in many ways led by) the production of new needs. With consequent increase in waste production. Part of this waste is the result of consumption: composed by materials and objects that were destroyed by human use or have decayed over time. But an increasing part of this waste is generated through symbolic processes, i.e., created by the production of consumption, by industries whose main products are new forms of desire. Since innovation is the main drive of economy, commodities are produced for worlds that do not exist yet, worlds which they will help shape. This power of transformation is enacted not only by design, but mainly by the immaterial labour that produces the world in which the new commodity will have a place. Thereby, obsolescence is inscribed in things. Sign-value overrides use-value, turning goods into monsters.
Science produces its own needs in similar ways. After generations of modern social science, we fell in the trap of the post and the modern. Social scientists of the late 20th century and early 21st have occupied themselves in finding a word to couple with the prefix post, while others keep searching for the best prefix for the word modern. So we have for example post-modern, post-industrial, post-colonial and post-human. Or post-modern, late-modern, hyper-modern, liquid modern, super-modern... What is misleading in this activity is the fact that it is directed to the definition of the present historical moment. First of all it gives the idea that we can place the present into a historic line, on the one side forgetting the past contributions to the spatialisation of social sciences, and, on the other how the present can not be contained in a historical image, for it is always moving. Most significant, in my opinion, is another consequence of this global sport of reassembling the ‘post-modern’: the difficulty in imagining a world beyond the present, a society organised in different ways, the contribution of social sciences to the invention and re-invention of the future. The post will have to be attributed to what comes after us, what we can only imagine, the superation of ourselves. Otherwise we will fall into a dead end of history and will only be able to imagine what is here now.
Tomara eu deitar-me nesses olhos
Como em duas almofadas de vidro

Aí onde o mar agita a sensação de chão
E o vento faz música ao passar por rochedos rugosos
Podemos ainda repousar em lagoas espelhadas

The History of Words

Before words, each person's thoughts could develop freely without the intervention of strangers’. If someone liked an other, a warm gest...