“Thoughts for myself”

and for you maybe

Of the culture

Culture – as a living organism – is undergoing profound changes in its status and in its roles and functions. Nowadays, in fact, it has become a field conducive to investment and a sector that creates jobs, thus contributing to socio-economic growth and human development.
Therefore, the days when cultivation was seen as a tertiary activity, unproductive and barely good at watering down or passing it around, are long gone. Since this is the case, new missions and attributions are now devolved to it, requiring analysis and criticism, namely:
– Preserve and keep alive the right memory and the creative imagination.
– Establish the knowledge society on solid foundations and innovative projects.
– Observe and flush out the harmful effects of globalization and financial capitalism which scrapped the past and its lessons, and deteriorate the interests and rights of individuals and peoples.
– Provide the institutions of cultural administration and management with modern and adequate tools and techniques.
– Raise individual and collective consciousness to a threshold where everyone can imbibe the values ​​of ethics, civility, responsible freedom and human solidarity.
– Target the conduct of violence and extremism and diagnose its causes, with the aim of better tackling them and protecting society from the dangers they engender.
– Culture therefore to free us from any dogmatism and any fanaticism generated by stupidity and the servitudes imposed or assumed.
– To cultivate oneself to live better and not to be in the denial of oneself and arrogant ignorance, two pathogenic factors which deteriorate the inventive springs and the accesses to the optimism of the will.

– Culture as a barometer of progress and a lever for human development, where the goals sought are innovative competitiveness, the rise in tastes and languages ​​and the well-being of people and societies: these are the strong actions to win the bet of the development through the goods and services of the city and modernity, in other words of culture.

The primordial question of culture therefore does not arise in the framework of an average culture or in crumbs, or of a utilitarian culture (that of the Philistine of Autan and the technocrat of the present times), or even in that of the leisure and pure consumption, rightly criticized by Hannah Arendt in The Crisis of Culture, and by Edward Saïd in all her works, but the said question arises with acuity and insistence at the level of a culture of research and creation , oriented towards the fundamental and the long term. From this angle, it should be observed that nowadays culture, for reasons of weakness affecting vision, communication and exchange, is going through a latent crisis, which is in short only the crisis of the actors and the producers who are the intellectuals and the artists.

From words to concepts

In discourse on culture, in the light of the present and concrete reality, what have we not used and abused – at the level of a nation, a country – of notions, such diversity, plurality, difference, openness… They are often used as words and rarely as concepts. The words in their first articulation are subject to current everyday uses and to the rules of contraction and least effort. Concepts, on the other hand, are the products of the work of thought.

All those who, in the matter, ignore the contributions of the philosophers, ignore them or disregard them go up against the wall and bite the dust. This means that these contributions are essential, because they are founding and enlightening. And so, faced with the aforementioned words, the philosophical approach converts them into concepts by organically connecting them to the component that founds them and vitalizes them, that is to say to communication or what the German philosopher Jürgen Habernas calls ” communicational action ”.

In the absence of it, the aforementioned words – which many minds like and repeat all the time – unravel and fall to shreds. And this is indeed the case in media circles and intellectuals keen on fast and appearances. Environments where catch-all words flourish, spread in clichés and clichés like wildfire, that only a critical thought can mitigate the influence and the damage.

Thus, diversity (and its corollaries) that is neither conceptualized nor thought out ends up being metamorphosed into a negation of the paradigm of biodiversity itself; because unsightly and abrasive, the aforementioned diversity generates pathogenic elements likely to eat away, such as cancer, the body of the same society, of the same humanity, exposing it to the risk of fractures of all kinds: loose or broken links, impoverished communication and exchange, and therefore ostracism and exclusion, autism and hatred and other avatars of a segmented society, fragmented and in loss of cohesion and solidarity.

The concept of regrouping unit or union is thus disqualified, even hidden and deprogrammed; while under other skies, those of developed countries, it is a strong currency, a glue and an end in itself (United States of America, United Kingdom, European Union, etc…). The great Fernando Pessoa was right in writing what everyone must read and reread and meditate on: “Have you ever thought, O my Different, how invisible we are to each other? Have you ever thought about how ignorant we are of others? We see each other without seeing each other. We get along, and each of us only listens to the voice that is deep inside ”.

It is therefore to this existential dead end that difference (and by analogy diversity) leads us by standing like an entity, all in lime, shutters closed, opaque and irreducible to any space where appears, beyond the various data, naked and raw, the human face embodied by the like and the neighbor.


Now what about identity? Here is a nodal, centrifugal question, which cuts across many others and deserves that we devote many surveys, research and meetings to it, but to talk about it differently than do those who have in their mouth or under their pen only the eternal notion of “plural identity”, which is there only to destroy and dent the founding and cohesive identity, to empty it of all the unifying springs and levers and therefore of any vital immune and impacting force. Out of state to harm must also be the worn-out, redundant and boring identity discourse, too popularized for it to be necessary here to unfold it.

On this issue, here are some notes and clarifications:

Identity, all dimensions combined, cannot be a fixed essence, ad vitam aeternam, acquired and established once and for all; on the contrary, it is a continuous conquest, an evolving entity, a process of legitimation by the merits and the developed and additive values, but always from a set of referents and points of support and anchoring including the community base living is a shared past and a memorial history of living together, as is the case with the vast majority of advanced countries whose founding rules and laws cannot be overturned by a few rare exceptions (Belgium threatened with a split between the Flemish and Walloons and Switzerland of the cantons (22 since 1815), quadrilingual and born as a federal state in 1848.

On the basis of these data, the identity, ours in this case, put to the test and weakened by the colonial violence of yesterday and the return of an open-faced hegemonism or even in a sibylline and sly mode, this identity currently presents itself (as interior and exterior lobbies work) in a dispersed, fragmented order and therefore in a vulnerable and anemic state. So many deteriorating factors that put it at risk of social tribalization (even new-look), of which identity folds are already detectable and increasingly palpable symptoms.

It is in this sense that we can say that Amin Maalouf in Murderous Identities failed to deal, as it should have, the other side of the question, namely hegemonism, exploitation and humiliating behavior and inequitable, and therefore that of bruised identities. Our author has not retained the method for which Edward Said always, during his lifetime, pleaded and which he applied in all his work, that of the contrapuntal reading, consisting in mirroring the concepts and opposites, the said and the unsaid, colonialism, imperialism and liberation and emancipation movements, etc.

This is how he was able, for example, to write in his autobiography Out of place: “Yes, at every step in life, we encounter disappointment, disillusion, humiliation. How not to have a bruised personality? How can you not feel your identity threatened? How not to have the feeling of living in a world which belongs to others, which obeys rules decreed by others, a world where one is oneself like an orphan, a stranger, an intruder, an outcast? “
When one obscures the culture of a people by the inferiorization of its language, and therefore of its letters, its arts and its productions; when one disregards its creators and its thinkers, even among contemporaries, then summoning this culture thus underestimated and abused in the circles of intercultural dialogues, it is in fact to make it play a derisory and humiliating role, that of appearing and sidekick.

The situation of identity and its avatars thus evoked, does it not, as a consequence, have negative repercussions on the foundations of culture itself and its functions? Are the proofs and the multitude of specific cases relating to our cultural inventory not patent and convincing?




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