tiredness society

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By Jose Machado Moita Neto*

Commentary on the book by Korean-German philosopher Byung-Chul Han

“Today what was written is fulfilled.” The correct version of the phrase I will discuss is not in the Gospel (Luke 4: 21) and its context for understanding the meaning is not the one that springs from reading the Bible (Luke 4: 14-29). It is in Nietzsche's thought, in the concept of Übermensch, is written in the book "Thus Spoke Zarathustra". Perhaps our philosopher has been hasty in saying that God is dead, but it is certain that we have built a postmodern society very different from the Christian one that approaches Nietzsche's vision for man. He certainly did not foresee its consequences when he pointed out the vices of his time and called for the virtues of this new man.

 The complete package of Kantian morality, of Foucault's disciplinary society, of Freud's repression of the unconscious, of Marx's dichotomous vision of exploiters and exploited, has been overcome by postmodern man. The author of “Society of Tiredness” takes a panoramic tour of some thinkers to grope for a diagnosis of our society and characterize it as a performance society that leads, almost inevitably, to Burnout Syndrome and Depression.

Byung-Chul Han's text is conducted in a "bite and blow" style towards some philosophers. It presents a caricature of their thinking and responds to the construction of their argument. Then, at another time, he consults the same philosophers on another topic and has them as a more crystalline oracle of truth. A success is not only built in this way, the author has an easy language, demonstrates erudition and makes a description of a significant segment of German and perhaps European society, with his dramas. He identifies the transition to man-commodity (exposed on Facebook, for example) and attributes that the subject who explores himself to the point of exhaustion, to exhaustion, is the great achievement of today's capitalism.

The first chapter of the book “neuronal violence” was yet another victim of the coronavirus. The author makes a whole speech about overcoming the “immunological” phase of our society to prepare the reader for the current phase that he calls neuronal. The speech, read in November 2019, would be perfect and each of us would add some fact from our society that would even reinforce the argument. In this way, to better value the reader and the work, I advise anyone who has not read it, even if they do so at least 2 years after ending the collective trauma caused by the coronavirus.

The author is a philosopher and as such is not bound by the solution of the problem exposed in the work. It only shows, with little rigor, its emergence. Thus, it is up to the reader to present his own solution or to identify something implicit in Byung-Chul Han's philosophical and literary construction. I did not make the diagnosis of our time and, therefore, I cannot offer a solution. However, I risk making a joke: advocating the eternal return of the same, the author could decree the death of the superman, of the postmodern man and affirm what he left implicit in his entire work. Everyone will need something or someone to guide them. Alone, given over to our own freedom, we will fail and wear ourselves out. But this Christians already knew (Matthew 11: 28-30).

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of PiauíJosé Machado Moita Neto (jmoita@ufpi.edu.br)


Byung-Chul Han. tiredness society. Petrópolis, Voices, 136 pages (https://amzn.to/45Aie0o).

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