iCulture in a Mass Media Environment: Media Event
As subjects of the mass media, contemporary individuals often have little to no control over the process of establishing a private sphere, which is the main goal of iCulture therapy. One of the master tools available to the media in the formatting of subjectivity is the simulation and framing of traumatic events. A good example is the coverage of the terrorist attacks in Brussels on March 20, 2016. Since there is no master mind behind the mass media, the coverage of traumatic events has no individual subjective imprint and no human will.
The mass media are impersonal, automatic, and without the reflexive capacity of human intelligence. Their products are neither reflected, nor in any way designed. Journalists, producers, actors, anchors, etc. may possess an individual subjectivity, but it plays no role whatsoever in the production of mass media products. The individuals serving the mass media are mere cogs in a giant, entirely unconscious, global machine. In the past some film directors exercised a degree of individual authorship over their creations, but today authorship in mass formatted media is obsolete. The age of the auteur director and the auteur actor is long over. The very existence of the class “independent film” today is only testament to the lack of authorship in all mass media formats.
Most recently, even government supported academic research, which in the past bore the unmistakable imprint of the researcher, has been subsumed by the unconscious media giant. The spaces and opportunities for private reflection and genuine new research are disappearing. Ironically, only the online media, the latest edition of mass technology, offer an opportunity not only for personalisation, but for invention and innovation in all sciences. iCulture is offered as a service in the hope of stimulating individual contributions to arts and science by supplementing professional training.
Only a mind at peace has the capacity to reflect, which is necessary for innovation and recreation. The mass media are “smart” enough and equipped with an instinct of self-preservation. Their power lies in the continuous destabilization of the individual private sphere through traumatic events, with which they control and structure the individual private sphere. Our educational systems are too slow to respond to the new demands and have failed to provide the necessary educational tools to protect the individuality of the private sphere. Online opportunities abound and the dear reader is encouraged to take advantage of them.
It is the individual’s responsibility to reflect and reshape an event of media impact. The media consumer can design a singular response to an event and frame it actively, only if they are in possession of a private cultural sensurround equipped with a large range of references that include cultural products from distant ages, places, and media. This is why art collecting has been so important for art patrons over the centuries. The personal art collection is a kind of fortress that protects the individual psyche and allows it to luxuriate in its own, private, individual world of reference. With the vast cultural archive available online today, even individuals without means can establish a media fortress of their own that protects them from being vulnerable and hapless consumers shaped and formatted by the inhuman mass media apparatus. iCulture is a therapeutic process whereby the reader can learn to acquire and design a private media archive and art collection.
Interruption: Time out of Joint
Therapy always begins with an interruption, a break in the fabric of reality caused by a violent event. People seek therapy and enter spas to recreate their functionality and to re-compose a peaceful state. A month ago the world was shocked and horrified by the terrorist attack in the heart of Europe. The lingering memory is still with us, like a corpse awaiting burial. In philosophy interruption is known as caesura, a moment of suspension of the rules that structure reality. As if blasted out of the continuum of time, the moment of the event is either of traumatic origin or consciously introduced to reflect on something newly ushered into the regulated world of daily life. A violent media event such as the attacks is both, a traumatic occurrence and an opening for reflection and reorganisation of the private sphere.
Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is a philosophical reflection on interruption. The young prince is traumatised by the sudden death of his father. The revelation of the ghost that the king was murdered by his brother Claudius who has usurped the crown and the queen his mother, is the media framing of the traumatic event. It is automatic, unpremeditated, and catches Hamlet unawares, much like media events do with us. His response, however, is individual. The play is a tragedy. Hamlet fails to contain the impact of the media event, the appearance of the ghost, and shatters his world and Denmark. Instead of turning within and not acting on the command of the ghost, Hamlet acts and dooms himself and his country.
In the opening between being and not being, between acting and not acting, the play offers a spectacular view of the interior. The stage curtain always lifts on an interior that becomes visible only in moments of interruption and caesura. The event in Brussels lifted the curtain on European culture. How will Europe respond? It is acting, but on whose command? The little lambs mercilessly slaughtered in Brussels have certainly not returned with a commandment to revenge their deaths. The media forgot them, buried them deeper than the terrorists did, because they have no value for the giant machine, which is only interested in control of the living. In a sense, Hamlet also failed because he did not act, but let Claudius act for him and determine his failure.
Media Event and the Psychological Task of Forgiveness
A tragic event is also the correct frame to illustrate the ability and the immense capacity to forgive. Forgiving is the most difficult psychological task imaginable and it is certainly unreasonable to expect anyone to be able to master it in one day. The mass media expect Europeans to simply bow down and accept violence as their daily bread. But learning to forgive would be meaningless if it were automatic, or if it were there only to fulfil a moral imperative. Forgiveness has the capacity to improve the quality of life, if it is engaged consciously and over a longer period of time.
The moral imperatives barked at us from media outlets cannot contain a traumatic event. The political arguments they carry will not help us frame a violent intrusion, no matter how morally correct and no matter how good it pretends to be. Political arguments are often dishonest and unhelpful, precisely because they ignore the psychological reality of the human experience. Contemporary political thought is geared toward the criminalisation of the individual and the glorification of the law. This goes against the teachings of Christ, who taught us to have a heart and an interior before all else. Political thought also goes against human nature, which is why the cultural heritage of the world, human languages and customs, are severely endangered. Political imperatives are delivered through the mass media. It is up to the individual to internalise them and make them one’s own.
Possessing a rich interior means above all knowing and understanding one’s internal value. Who we are to ourselves is the image we show God. The face within is the only genuine self-image, with which we invite Him to dwell in us. We can’t let material, external circumstances touch the interior self-image, because it is our unique identity in Christ. We don’t have to break the law, however, or disobey the authority of the world. By developing a deep, rich, engaged interior we can learn to serve God and not the political and media imperatives of the day. We can learn not to be affected by material circumstances and incidental events that are beyond our control. iCulture therapy is designed to help the reader gather and curate material to build an interior castle and to fortify it against the erratic media environment.
The mass media are culturally neutral. They have no faith and no relationship with God, but they affect the way we communicate. Though the media failed to reflect on the fact that the attack was carried out during Holy Week, the most important week of the Christian calendar year, they did not provide the corresponding cultural context of its interpretation. Thus the violence that threatened to darken the celebration and to mar the loving hearts of believers with anger, hatred, and disgust remains uncontained, splattered on the streets of Brussels, encouraging further violence. Remembering who Christians are and what they believe is their only defence against media violence. What happened instead was the intrusion of violence in Christian churches, which have now forgotten the relationship with Christ and have become mere mouthpieces for what was pre-programmed by the official mass media, unable to reflect anything of value to the individual. Because the church is subject to mass media, it cannot offer individuals the defence they need to recreate a peaceful interior.
Responding with the meekness and kindness of the Lamb of God is something that can only be cultivated inside. This does not mean Christians are unaware of the events taking place, the political theatre unfolding around them, the media coverage, and the designs of a hate-driven media apparatus against their way of life and indeed against their lives. No, they are aware, they reflect, think, express what they deem important to share with others, but they also preserve their internal peace by recognising that Christ is with the departed saints of Brussels. He is their Shepherd. Christians know the saints of Brussels don’t want revenge. They have one demand: that they are remembered, that the message of love and peace that came with the resurrection of the Christ is not forgotten and that Christians don’t let the darkness of violent media events consume their celebration. The worst response to a violent event would be not to listen to the inner voice and not to asks God what His Will is in this situation. How does He want Christ’s siblings to respond inside, according to the particular circumstances and challenges each and every one of them is facing at this particular junction of their lives?
Recreating the Interior Castle
In the course of iCulture therapy we will continue to engage the question of faith in Christ actively. Today’s post illustrates a major building block of the interior castle: faith. Faith is the cornerstone of Christian civilisation. To understand the culture that, much like structured Dior lace, supports the walls of the interior castle, which e-spa treatments aim to recreate, one must understand Christian faith. Every educational experience and every therapy begin with a caesura and an interruption. A media event bearing an interruption is always dated. It falls somewhere on the calendar and carries particular culturally specific content. Establishing a strong and stable internal core requires the individual exposed to media violence to remain grounded at times of crisis and disturbance. The only lesson to take away from Brussels is not to let the material circumstances structured by the mass media and mass politics, affect the internal image, which is holy and untouchable.
The fluidity of the concepts interior design and interior castle allows them to function both as a metaphor for processes of internalisation that create and recreate private worlds illuminated by faith and as literal points of reference that can only be reflected by a mind in possession of a large range of cultural artefacts. We will continue to elaborate the relationship between the internal private sphere and the outward material expression of interior design in the course of the therapeutic processes engaged in iCulture. Another point we will continue to elaborate is the relationship between sublimation, individuation, and faith. Come again!