Estudos da Cultura


Avaliação Final de Curso

 

Ø       Docente:    Prof. Dr. Marcos Soares

Ø       A l u n o:    Peres Rusky C.Lopes

Ø       Matrícula:  54.16.204

Ø       T u r m a:  Noite

Ø       D a t a:      30 de Novembro de 2008.

 

Em referência aos textos discutidos, analise o ponto de vista da totalidade, e como a prática cultural critica e responde aos objetos exteriores.

 

I believe that the study which is currently necessary in the academic field – especially outside the humanities – urges to go through a re-examination of the so-called “post-modernity”, criticizing the approach taken by Francis Fukuyama, who ideologically declared the “end of History”.

 

Evidently, Marx, Freud and the Religion go through a review after the last epistemological cut (Foucault), which reiterated the concepts of post-modernity, as from the 60’s. However, ideas that emphasize a purported end of History (very similar to those more backward ideals of the North American exceptionalism) seem only serve the marketing interests of the global capitalism, which strengthened after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the collapse of the Soviet system and “death” of the left, as formulated by Stanley Aronowitz.

 

Coincidentally or not, this new global landscape is favorable to the pax-americana, through an ideology that exalts the present and immediately moment of the “here and now”, urging to break with all collective historical links (nationals or not), while searching for the standardization of individuals, including their tastes and consumption patterns.

 

However, outside the field of the humanities, what could be critically examined as from the neo-Marxist concepts of the commodity fetish, becomes the scientific object of the Economic Science (and others similar) which, with an aim to prevent shortages – or to ensure to individuals their inclusion in the current world –, start to study in detail their habits, classifying them as necessities, through theories that seek to quantify their respective marginal and total utilities, endorsing formulations hybrid of criticism, which simply theorize the markets’ behavior of supply and demand.

 

 

Such critical emptying and standardization of individuals, allied to erase of the concepts of History (not to mention the timely reduction of the importance of all national states, as effective actors in the post-modern and globalized world) constitute a kind of discourse that has similarities with the most reactionary and repressive systems that we already experienced throughout the History of humanity. But, in contrast, the criticism over the materialistic consumption seems to be much more present and alive within the field of humanities only than, necessarily, in the arena of interdisciplinary discussions.

 

So, areas mostly related to a non-critical technicality feel totally free to take up the concepts developed within the fields of humanities, with the explicit intention of giving credibility to its theories. Following this line, Carlos Henrique Escobar, for example, theorized, in his introduction to “Semiology and Linguistics Today” (Rio de Janeiro, Pallas, 1975.), that “the ideological concrete forms of the language (...) act as a cyclical investment, a ‘variable capital’, which broadens and strengthens its efficacy in accordance to the subjects and classes that it produces”, making a questionable link between linguistic theory and merchandising praxis. [1]

 

And, from the concept of synchronicity and diachronic elaborated by Saussure, Escobar continues, interpreting Serge Latouche’s theories, which explain the fundamentals of the methodological similarity between Linguistics and Economics, by relating pairs of concepts seemingly without connection, such as “salary” and “signifying”, or “work” and “signified”, until a point in which he compares the concepts of “merchandise” with those of “sign”, in “a system of meaning [that makes the object, converted to the status of a merchandise, to become something] intelligible, or socially useful” (pp.88-90), being “the dialectic of the sign-commodity the same of that of the language sign” (sic), also mentioning, from that point on, Jean Baudrilard theories (p.99), perhaps in an effort to give more authority or credibility to his conclusions.

 

The fact is that we live now a great paradox, as “we are” and “we are not”, at the same time: in the post-modernity, the affirmation of differences (of gays, blacks, women, elderly and other so-called ‘minorities’) means the denial of individuals, leading to a repressive collectivization of wills and tastes. Thus, according to the neo-Marxist perspective, the domination over the working classes does not occur simply through the possessing of the production means as in the past, being the new “explorer” almost never identified, as we are all immersed on a hedonist logic that only considers the pleasure of consumption.

 

 

Or, still, as the experts in micro-economics would say, “the component of ‘individual taste’, within the curve of demand needs”. Or, still, in the words of any marketing specialist, “the desire inherent to the consumption of a product, far beyond its simple necessity, almost ever highlighted by a totally arbitrary ‘design’”, explicitly revealing the fetishist characteristic of goods and services.

 

Thus, the sensation that individuals have, in our globalized post-modernity, is totally unrealistic and nihilistic. The world today is a confusing place that leads people to consumption, always moved by a neo-hedonism based on the reign of immediate pleasure and satisfaction. Everything around us is composed of a pretense, not definitive identity, while people strengthen their narcissism through a process of “transvestitism of all experiences” as mentioned by João Barrento in his “Receituário da Dor para Uso Pós-Moderno”.

 

We use to talk about ‘individualism’ and ‘materialism’, whenever relating their destructive power to the recent process of globalization. But such terms have a meaning much beyond the current use, clearly identifying the forces that celebrate consumerism, this supreme force that is the central point of our economic system, and which is reinforced through all our mass culture and entertainment industry, with the main purpose of disseminating a certain ‘way of life’, for which we are all “trained” every single day, and with an intensity of sounds, images and other media resources never seen throughout History.

 

Consumerism is inconsistent to all modern democracies, since consumption habits and vices suppress the possibilities of collective political action, in our current times of post-modernity: historically, the invention of mass culture, as a component of the Fordism, was important for the consecration of the American exceptionalism, allowing not only the emergence of federalism or some mixture of races but, also, the “administration” of class struggles in the United States, in opposition to what was happening in the majority of all other countries, displacing, thus, the social energies towards a forced consensus.

 

 

So, it would be totally ironic to present ‘mass culture’ as something related to democratization, as many of those “specialists” in globalization insist to announce. However, the dialectic inherent to ‘identity’ and ‘difference’ must be understood in a broader sense, specially in the Brazilian case, since the “positive” force of culture here does not apply, exclusively, to the “popular culture” (or “mass culture”), since it also includes the so-called “high culture” or, in a more comprehensive way, the national language and all its literature. In this sense, samba and other popular manifestations, which could perfectly be considered, in a very first judgment, something opposite to Machado de Assis, can perfectly be identified as part of an autonomous national culture, which anyone in the country could even be proud of.

 

The expression of culture can, on the other hand, identify situations of nationality, in which the defense of autonomy takes the form of something similar to the most traditional Modernism: the defense of the power of Art and “high culture”, revealing a deeper connection between that artistic modernism and the political power of a community, here understood as an unified political power or collective project, instead of something dispersed in democratic multiplicities of identities and positions.

 

And, to finish our discussion, it is curious but opportunistic to mention the last edition of Exame magazine – still on sale in the newsstands, which asks, in highlighted letters and rightly on the cover, what would be the utility of ‘analysts’ and ‘economists’, since the current global crisis “made explicit both their incompetence (...) to make forecasts, and the market’s recklessness to believe in them”.

 

Its main article also remembered that “from 115 Brazilian companies that have opened the capital since 2004, 99 are now evaluated in an amount inferior to that of the first day they began to operate in the stock market”, besides making a parallel with the current North American situation, through the words of Warren Buffett, who said that “Wall Street is the only place where people go by Rolls-Royce to ask for advices of those who take subway”.

 

 

Thus, it is clear that the discipline of Cultural Studies should go far beyond the mere discussions about Frank Raymond Leavis’ or Raymond Williams’ positioning and formulations concerning the most basic classification of Art and Culture, necessarily including, instead, the understanding and a judgment of the role of both ‘culture’ and ‘mass-culture’, demystify the whole ideology behind the media, as well as the dogmas and beliefs inherent to the technicality of all other sciences, which still insist on a hybrid, insufficient point of view to understand the world, despite all the complexity of our post-modern times.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

[1] -–   Carlos Henrique Escobar – Semiologia e Lingüística Hoje (Rio de Janeiro, Pallas, 1975.): “as formas ideológicas concretas da língua (...) atuam como um investimento conjuntural, um ‘capital variável’, que se amplia e se fortalece na sua eficácia junto aos sujeitos e às classes que ele ademais produz” (p.7).