Orientation Beacon One
The flow of history points in the right direction. The new Cartesian modern world begins in the politically global sense with the Spanish domination, that becomes a world hegemony with the annexing of the New World territories across the ocean. And it is typical of a hegemony to spread by political means its monolith culture that is really the basis of its ideology and the concept by which the hegemony is to protect mankind and improve the world. In this lies a great danger, because a culture becomes politics, and thereby terror that does not allow for contradictions between the particularities of a culture or an open dialogue with other, different cultures. By rule of thumb horrible things follow: ethnocide, genocide.
It seems that if the story of modern history began in the southwest of Europe – with amongst other things the banishing of the Arabic and Islamic cultures from Europe – then it ends exactly half a millennium later with the destruction of a multicultural society in the southeast of Europe. The same pattern which we used to describe the beginning, might offer an explanation of the rise of another hegemony, the Western empire, for the end of modern history. The monolith culture of this hegemony was in fact in the embryonic state of its development at exactly the time that the first European ships discovered the Americas and began to populate them. This problem of culture is its superiority complex which, however, does not come from the power of the culture itself, but rather from the political and economic power of the West and sees its superior role in the economic back-lag of the rest of the world, be it East or South. The theme of the »undeveloped« world arises – and this world is soon pushed into the theme of irrationality and thus dealt with – because of the differences in values and cultural meanings and even more so because of ignorance and prejudice. And once the process of the »enlightenment« and cultivation of this world begins by western, universal civilisation standards, we usually face an outbreak of horrible violence, violence in which two oppositions, two forces battle, one man against another. Sadly, the more people believe in tolerance, democraticism, enlightenment and progress, the faster and more ready they are to become volunteer victims of repression and self-betrayal. The jargon of the Great progress becomes all, and its faith represents the heritage of the western age of enlightenment. Modern societies enter everything encompass everything to the point of understanding themselves as the final goal of history. And that of course is proof enough of the radical undervaluing of all previous cultures and particularly their mysteries. Man is no longer recognized as mysterious and open by default, but rather as generally understandable, definable and expressible. If a culture that we recognize as the foundation of the European man appears on Balkan ground, a culture that produces multi-mysteries – which later historical Christianity reduces to a one and only – then the profane culture of today eliminates even this »only« from a world understood as a complete structure of social relationships. A system, or more precisely a world, that supports and grows a network of multiplying institutions and regulations allows the passive man of today only »faith and illusion«. The faith in question is one that replaces primary human communication with an illusion of consumerism, the belief in unlimited economic growth that is supposed to improve the world through the quantitative growth of prosperity.
But it is more than worrying to notice that man has apparently lost control over this »self perpetuating« clockwork of production that modern man had put into motion. Here we face again the problem of the »unmoving picture«. You see, prejudice always follows that which prevails as a general label of something we do not know, will not admit to ourselves, cannot face, do not want to meet, or of which we are even afraid or terrified. This is why these prejudices are very useful for constructing opinions and even act as powerful symbols and once these symbols are used in politics (and therefore out of time) we find ourselves on the verge of catastrophe. The catastrophe of war that took place in the area of ex Yugoslavia in this past decade has put tremendous strain on the experience of civilisation, proclaiming itself to be humane. Today the cultural dichotomy between East and West is not apparent but is in fact a fractal and chaotic intercivilisational difference, that takes place within a given territory, whether in the so called developed or the undeveloped world. Turning a blind eye toward reality is more than dangerous. It seems that the part of the world that deems itself superior is renouncing its own other and far greater pole as if it were an »unwanted child«. But in this is hidden the way of thinking that in all historic epochs has pointed toward an »alarm« for change. Hypocritical hiding behind reasons of civilisations with the purpose of covering up the true reasons of an action is poisoning the world in its total manifestation. All empires have crumbled. In this spirit, given different points of view of course, including the one that I myself have experienced and lived. The Yugoslav story should be a warning and a reminder of all other stories that have not yet unravelled. And yet, in a time when corporations rule the world, it seems that in this part of the world one model of idolatry is substituting all others: euro-idolatry, thus prolonging the dependence on the world metropolises of modernization. The boredom that is becoming the universal state of mind of modern man is dangerous because it enables him to evade responsibility for his own action or inaction and lets him give in to operativity. This is why modern man is becoming easier to lead and passively succumbs to negative identification. And things do not stop there – this identification becomes the prevailing model of negative realisation of a personality, and the monolith culture only works to suppress it forcefully. Persistence in the illusion of thus suppressed differences automatically creates a traumatic image of the Other. We should begin by admitting this problem.
Orientation Beacon Two
Just a few more thoughts: We must not allow ourselves to inhibit a sincere existential experience, we must open it out. And it can only be opened out by freedom. This is why we must not speak of this lightly. We must pull ourselves together and remember our own experience, the forgotten, the most traumatic inner experience. Our own fear is preventing us from doing this and it may also prevent choice. Once we admit to the problem, we’ve already in a way made a choice.
Nearby events without doubt testify to the end of humanistic self-assuredness and the satisfaction of man with himself. And of course such revelations strike deep wounds. The headache is severe: the occurrences of hypocrisy and resentment are accompanied by a loss of identity, of power. The arithmetic of power collapses sooner or later. Once the desire most hidden has seeped through the sieve of suffering, love becomes deeper than humanistic certainty. Infinite empathy, even when combined with horrible cruelty, is no longer based on an ontological but rather on an ethical principal of cohabitation, which recognizes the other as fellow man. The masks fall then, and the »bill« cannot be set right. This is the only way in which we can avoid the workings of »imperial« logic even after the empires have collapsed, the »forceful unification of all men«, whether Roman universalism by force or Byzantine ideological imperialism in culture and politics.
The key to all this lies in affection, for it is exactly the kind of self enclosed indifference that enables the growth of unlimited despotism. When one thinks of one’s past, one becomes a better man, says Andrej Tarkovski. And one can thus overcome the deep loneliness of a man who thinks he has failed. In the end, one must always choose.
Translated by: Jure Novak