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Some Philosophical Musings on Three Intriguing Ovi Juxtapositions
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2013-08-04 13:08:48
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It does not happen very often, but sometimes planets and stars align perfectly and then astronomers detect something mysterious but also meaningful and/or significant in such an alignment and proceed to write books explaining its significance. The same can happen in a publication in the form of an intriguing juxtaposition yielding intellectual sparkle or even a veritable galaxy of conversations (a symposium perhaps?) supported by free speech, the essential component of any genuine exchange of opinions and ideas.

That it should have happened in Ovi magazine, a publication dedicated to the promotion of free speech and respectful of all opinions as long as civilly expressed, ought to be no surprise. It actually happened today, as I write this brief reflection, on Friday August 2nd  with the publication of three intriguing articles. What the significance of it all may ultimately mean I am not so sure (to borrow from Shakespeare, there is always the real possibility that it may be “a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”), nonetheless I’d like to share with the Ovi readership  some of the musings that jumped to mind in surveying today’s issue of Ovi.

The three articles in question are the leading one by the editor of Ovi Thanos Kalamidas titled “The Conspiratorially Hidden,” whose subtitle could be “because they can technologically,”  the other by Leah Sellers titled “Oh Yes! They Call me ‘The Flash’,” and the other by yours truly to be found within the fifth meeting of the Ovi Symposium and titled “On Modern Nihilism: Entrepreneurship, Technology, Utopia, Extinction.”

My article, which is a continuation from the previous symposium meeting, begins with this statement: “Who is master, who is servant in the previously described technical framework?  Hard to tell.” This juxtaposition of the first two articles with my initial question appears to me serendipitous. The article by the Ovi editor making the point that while we delude ourselves that we live in free democratic society where our privacy and civil rights are protected, the same government that is supposed to be doing the protection is spying on us and violating our privacy “because it can” technologically. This aside from the fact that such a violation may have been partially revealed by Mr. Snowden, the so called whistle blower and civil disobedient who likes to blow the whistle but will not face the music as Thoreau’s “civil disobedience” prescribes, and now lives in a country who is no shining example of protection of civil rights. I have already expressed an opinion on this conundrum regarding civil disobedience and therefore there is no need to dwell on it any longer.

We then come to the second article which is about Anthony Wiener, the so called “flasher” who seems to have an addiction to exposing himself to young women on line and wants to be rewarded by being elected mayor of New York city. He may even think that his physical exposure gives him added political exposure. Here the juxtaposition begins to get interesting. In the first place we should consider the fact that Wiener is violating nobody’s privacy: the young women who text and willingly communicate with him without being compelled to do so, in fact they may even seek and enjoy those objectionable pictures. Like the modern entrepreneur, Wiener can rationalize his addiction to naked exposure by claiming that he is only providing a product that people want. So, in the first article we have people who unbeknown to them are being spied upon and whose privacy and civil rights are being violated; in the second we have young women and a sex pervert who cannot help themselves and in fact could not care less about rights of privacy; they wish their privacy invaded and violated in exchange for fifteen minutes of fame.

And here we arrive at my initial question in part two of my last article in the Ovi symposium: “Who is master, who is servant in this technologically advanced framework?” Could not a good case be made that people get what they wish for. If their privacy means so little that their private parts can be exposed to the whole world for a few moments of glory and fame, then why complain so much that the government is also showing so little respect for its citizens’ privacy? Do we want the cake and eat it too? One can retort that the likes of Wiener are addicts who cannot help themselves. Fine, that would mean at a minimum that technology rather than making us more free is making us slaves; slaves of our technological addictions. In other words, people are getting what they wish for. The modern entrepreneur will always sell whatever he is selling (be it hair spray or hamburgers) by making it look (in their own parlance by giving a personality to a product) as if the product is not a want but a necessity that one ought not to deprive oneself of. Once the client has become an addict of such a necessity, of cigarettes let’s say, then he can no longer choose for him/herself. But the entrepreneur will insist that he is merely providing a needed service, something the people want. The question returns: Who is master, who is slave here?

 One final observation: could it be, could it just be, that Mr. Snowden too, far from exhibiting patriotism and concern for civil rights is addicted to fame and a narcissistic intellectual exposure, especially when one considers that in the country he decided to take refuge in there will be little if any opportunity to debate rights to privacy and civil disobedience. Food for thought!     


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Leah Sellers2013-08-04 19:50:16
Hello Brother Emanuel,
Excellent and Insightful observations, Sir.
Indeed, Life ItSelf is a very long LItany and ritual of Varying Shades of Juxtapositioning - ha !
P.S. - Also, thank you, and your Compadres for the wonderful Philosophical Symposium.

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