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Eureka: Intellectuals anonymous
by Jay Gutman
2017-11-02 11:21:34
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Unfortunately, in times of uncertainty, wars and terrorism, intellectuals have to take the back seat. As I said before, there are excellent writers, journalists, bloggers, thinkers, professors everywhere. But in this day and age it's become hard to name an intellectual, let alone to see familiar intellectual faces regularly in the media.

intel01_400In times of war, especially during the 80s and 90s, intellectuals who were fixtures of the media were unfortunately often assassinated, kidnapped, or suffered other forms of detention. So as a preventative measure, the media is now making sure that journalists are as anonymous and dull as they can be, and that intellectuals get as little exposure as possible.

This may have the negative effect of causing toxic atmospheres at some universities because, some professors feeling closeted, take down their anger and frustration on their students, sometimes by failing students that really should pass. Nobel prize winners and other intellectuals have been complaining that it is increasingly difficult to get their voices heard, let alone get published.

Their voices are heard, but are filtered. The measure seems to have been one that aims to protect intellectuals rather than punish them, although for those who made their bred and butter promoting books and ideas in the media, they may have suffered financial losses. In other times they could have lost their life.

I'm just speculating here and have no hard evidence to back up these claims. But my intuition tells me that given the experience of past conflicts intellectuals have been hidden as a protective measure. Many radio and television networks came up with rules where technically no intellectual or guest should be exposed more than a limited number of times a year, usually two or three times. Same goes for major newspapers where you can only technically submited an op-ed a few times a year. Thus came the notion of the starving intellectual.

How long will these measures last? I have the feeling that it might last for a long time. Perhaps a very long time. Until the conflicts are clearly over. So intellectuals who believe in their cause should view their work as a hobby while holding more dull day jobs. Sad. But I have the feeling it's the truth. 

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Emanuel Paparella2017-11-02 17:56:35
There was however an intellectual who refused to take a back seat after the war against Sparta was lost. His name is Socrates but few people nowadays even know who he was. He was beseached by his friends to go into exile and leave Athens, but he was more interested in pursuing the truth and obeyed the laws and sentence of the city (death by hemlock voted "democratically" but everybody knew that the charges were trumped up. There is a lesson there for modern positivistic man interested in results but ignorant of what it means to be and to live as a human being, but as the agument goes, what do the ancients have to teach us enlightened progressive moderns? Probably nothing much except to know oneself and thereby save our civilization. Dare we hope?

Akli Hadid2017-11-03 18:36:02
Dear Prof. Paparella! Due to the delayed status of a lot of comments I tend not to comment back but do read your comments with great attention when I can. First thank you for your generous feedback, which most times I find enlightening. Second this particular comment is beyond excellent, which is the reason I'm commenting on it. Thanks as always!

Emanuel Paparella2017-11-05 11:08:00
Dear Mr. Hadid. Thank you for the kind words. I concur: one of the most appealing characteristics of Ovi magazine is the diversity of points of view which, even if indirectly, are then dialogically discussed and debated. The comment section is a good tool for that purpose and I for one have always argued against its elimination in order to eliminate the occasional trolling and abuse.The abuse ought not necessitate the elimination of the use. There have been a few of those abuses, but by and large, I dare say, the discourse remains civil and cordial and those who have resorted to ideological propaganda to assert forcefully one’s point of view usually find the magazine uncongenial and leave. They simply do not manage to survive in an intellectual atmosphere dedicated to the search for truth, beauty and goodness and the exploration and discussion of differing views. So, let the dialogue, direct or indirect as the case may be, on different points of view continue.

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