be alone for the other

Image: Cyrus Saurius


Technology, when it monopolizes the scene, tends to make us cold

With the end of a pandemic year, it's not surprising that we feel depleted, down, drained. Everyone who observed the quarantine and followed the health recommendations must be tired of the virtual universe, with all its setbacks and spectral (mis)encounters. After providing us with an important service by bringing confined individuals closer together, it is time to gradually make technology go backwards, as we need to cool down the indifference caused by pixel projections, voices adulterated by acoustic mechanisms, static profiles that hide individuals. To overcome geographic barriers, it was necessary to weaken the quality of meetings, sacrifice human warmth and appeal to the cold calculation of artifices and techniques. This overcoming of limits, a way of venting a self that remains accommodated in an armchair, making images and noises proliferate, refers to a more long-lived logic, about which it is worth saying a few words.

The pioneering impetus, amplified during the century of great navigations, can be glimpsed in the powerful and colossal figure of the giant Adamastor, eternalized in the epic verses of Luís de Camões. Crossing the Cape of Storms and, with that, inaugurating the Career of the Indies, perhaps has a value proportional to overcoming the columns of Hercules, the limit between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. When, in canto XXVI of Inferno, Dante Alighieri represented the exploits and death of Ulysses, struck dead after sailing the mare tenebrarum, certainly sought to legitimize a model of behavior based on restraint, restraint, prudence, predicates that guided the ancient Greco-Roman and scholastic philosophies on virtue. The sailing of the seas and the expansionist impetus of the XNUMXth century provided a new model of action, characterized by centrifugal forces. With such a change, the need to climb and colonize new spaces is highlighted, to resolve old limits.

In the last century, with the process of mapping the planet at an advanced stage, investments were made in more distant endeavors: the Soviet Sputnik project, started in 1957, launched technology capable of apprehending Gaia from a distance out of the atmosphere. In other words, the earth reached out its long arm to take a Selfie, capturing its fissured crust, its asymmetrical contours, its irregular distribution. No flat surfaces or precipices enclosing its edges, as some pseudoscientists with forged degrees want. If, initially, satellites made projects of such magnitude possible, soon afterwards they were able to record (and even anticipate) climate changes, meteorological patterns, catastrophes.

Recently, we have been faced with a desolate panorama: animals reduced to ashes, the natural beauty of forests and swamps being ruined, a great expenditure of carbonic gas, a great attack on life and an evident cult of death. The satellites were able to capture the aforementioned destructive potential of the fires, marking the most affected areas with scarlet blurs that indicate the magnitude of the disaster. The technique, commonly used to accelerate damage, was also and continues to be able to measure it, transform it into statistics, into data that can be outlined in a graph. It is much simpler to deny that the environmental collapse has perhaps reached an irreversible point, since taking the opposite stance would mean admitting that it is urgent to take measures, and for yesterday. It is also more opportune to deny or diminish the destructive potential and deaths caused by the pandemic, as the revisionists did in relation to the gas chambers used throughout the Nazi genocide. Otherwise, it would be necessary to seriously consider joining the quarantine, with all the difficulties it brings, which are innumerable and diverse.

It is preferable and comfortable to imagine that nature will ensure the environmental balance and that it is here to serve man's purposes. It is time to abandon the (mis)paths of simple answers and consider that the maintenance of negligence results in fatal obstacles, as is the case of COVID-19. If Mother Earth could protest, she would perhaps say: “Metallic tubes have pierced my complexion, toxic waste poisons my body, machines have drained my blood; I, who once squandered colors and vitality, are now nothing more than a redoubt of waste; exuberance has become dull and gray; from plenty remained portions of misery. I nurtured children who, insatiable, decided to starve me; suck life and dole out death. My offspring was not satisfied with being welcomed into my bosom and decided to increase profits by eliminating the brothers; the terrestrial fauna lost space to industrial complexes that destroy the ozone, facilitate burnings and increase the heat. In the beginning, I suffered and cried, but I was waiting for the manifestation of a supposedly dormant human potential; Occasionally I vent my anger, shedding a torrential cry that floods and fulminates. But I have to admit that I was surpassed by the children, as is common in the various cosmogonies. My executioners were and continue to be relentless”. Pardon the prosopopoeia, it is difficult to refer to the sublime, in its abject facet, without the aid of some figures of speech.

The pioneering impetus, succeeded by savage capitalism, by the excessive exploration of nature, by the space race, today has reached an unprecedented dimension: teleportation, formerly cherished by fiction, has become concrete, but projects the specter and keeps the impoverished flesh inert; they invented science and decided to replace it with opinion, distributed haphazardly through virtual channels; the technology that speeds up the movement of goods and people has also amplified the distribution of the virus that afflicts us. It is not just a question of admitting the paradoxical characteristic of the technique, but of portraying the paradox of man, who depletes the habitat assuming that, with this, he improves his quality of life; depreciates education while claiming to be the holder of knowledge, censures human rights to exercise their freedom of expression; claims authoritarian intervention to assert its democratic role; denies the virus in circulation and abandons security protocols to overcome the crisis; he despises the vaccine by supposing it contagious. As I said, the centrifugal impetus reaches the brink of inconsistency, because, in order to continue breaking boundaries, the individual disposed of his neighbor by assuming himself to be self-sufficient, he made little of life by defying death, he sacrificed the land of his ancestors and he denied his descendants by calling for master of the virtual world, which tears empathy apart and excludes the controversial to feed an illusory and narcissistic coherence.

The diagnosis seems calamitous, but traces remain that cherish: enhancing the virtual scenario, there is the feline that petulantly parades in front of the monitor; the dog that scratches the door to enter the room that has become an office; the children who promote racket and performances in imaginary worlds. There is affective warmth in our surroundings, but technology, when it monopolizes the scene, tends to make us cold. We must face social isolation to, tomorrow, greatly value affections. Technique does not reproduce such expedients, and they pass, end up, are gone, deleted from the hard drive of existence. If you need to find refuge from boredom, let it be in the warmth of a hug or in the pages of a good book, this one capable of arousing feelings, affection and smiles. Technology is useful, but the diffusion of virtual spectrums does not need to supplant the texture of fictional characters or the projections of a “we”. It is necessary to focus on future encounters to justify the current being-alone-for-the-other.

*Cleber Vinicius do Amaral Felipe He is a professor at the Institute of History at UFU.


See this link for all articles