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Post-truth

Guida Chambel, Nuno Oliveira and the Ana Lama Gallery folks in Lisbon are planning a long cycle revolving around anarcheology, fake news, artificial norms and post-truth. They want to look at the kidnapping of the iconoclastic practices both by the enthusiasts of capital and by the social conservatives - now that they are clearly placed together at least in practice. Attention to the non-univocity of representation - for example, in terms of the infinite saying that compose what is written according to disconstruction or in terms of the displacement of the force of matters of fact through the concern with versions according to anarcheology - is among the iconoclastic efforts to promote heresy against the dominant project in the last decades. These efforts have been recently not only embraced by the ultimate keepers of the status quo and by the unconditional supporters of capital as the sovereign engine in planetary life but also applied by those groups to (jointly) reach positions of power notably in the US, in Italy, within the European community, in Brazil and, to a great extent, in Russia. How could that happen? Or, more to the point Guida, Nuno and the cycle want to address, how can this be resisted if we are not to restrict iconoclam, to impose limits on performative fiction, to constrain the hyperstitious power of the stories we wish to tell or to consider truth itself always untouchable?

Today I started a series of few lectures on Heidegger in my contemporary philosophy course. My aim today was to connect the way Heidegger sees phenomenology (in section 7 of Sein und Zeit) and makes sense of the return to things themselves to his later remarks on the things and objetcs, the history of metaphysics and Ge-Stell. I was insisting on the importance of presence for phenomenology if phenomena is understood as manifestation of something that to a degree appears of its own accord. Phenomenolohy for Heidegger is about how things presence themselves, how they manifest themselves and therefore made themselves accessible. It is therefore the return of the attention to things as what can present and conceal themselves. In the Bremen lectures, Heidegger talks about the thing thinging, that is, of the thing doing its own thing. That is, the flower florishing and displaying a parfum - making a scent present - or sleep graciously coming to one at night. In contrast with this mode of presence, there is Ge-Stell which is the essence of technology which orders a standing reserve (Bestand) of what is available in things. Ge-Stell makes the world commandable, available to a command as things are placed in a standing reserve, ready to be used. Then, it is no longer the thing which things - does its own thing - or the flower which opens or Morpheus who makes himself present in one´s sleep. It is the bottled parfum that makes the scent present, the sleeping pill that makes the sleep show up. It is something else that comands the thinging - the sleep, the emission of parfum etc.

The issue appears as to whether the essence of technology is human. Heidegger argues it is not, it affects our presencing as well. I guess this non-human character of technology sheds light into several recent events. My example in class: with Ge-Stell, it is no long us which us-es, so not our norms which norm - or normatize. Once the intelligence of the intertwined processes of norm building and norm keeping are extracted, it can be commnaded by something else. There is no need to wait for the norms to norm - that takes a long time, as the flower takes time to open up. The norms can be commanded to norm - to present norms - or, instead, something else can provide the presencing of the norms, something else can do their thing for them. Bots are placed in the social milieus where norms are instituted and maintained and extract elements of the intelligibility of the processes. We, and our norms, become more like the image we help offer of us (and them) and the representation of the norms become an expanded variant of us.

Then, in the class, I reached the issue of post-truth. One can then say that truth has a force that unveils itself in its own pace - of its own accord. It commands consent, it convinces most people, it carries an authority. Truth does all that because allegedly it does its own thing. Truth truths. This can also take too long and leaves us at the mercy of truth´s own disclosure of itself. We can also force the presence at least of its effects. If we understand how truth truths, how it spreads itself, how it convinces and commands consent, an artificial truth can be produced. It is no longer needed to wait for truth to swamp alterative beliefs and persuade everyone how they should act, this effects can be achieved artificially if we know enough about how truth does its own thing. To some extent, post-truth is a consequence of the essence of technology. Ge-Stell is ultimately targetting the sovereignty of everything, including human sovereignty. Post-truth is a step towards making human doing human things - being convinced by the force of truth - dispensible because they can be made to be convinced by something less flippant and flimsy than truth. Does that mean that resisting post-truth entails resisting Ge-Stell? I guess so. The battle is not really to limit or constrain anarcheology or deconstruction but rather to fight within them. Post-post-truth cannot be a return to truth as it was before. It is perhaps to look sideways to find effects of truth that can only be extrated in different, unheard-of ways.

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