Freedom

In this short video for “The Guardian” Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek analyses the concept of freedom from multiple point of views: politics, economy, society and technology.

What is freedom for us? Is it the possibility to choose milk flavoured with strawberry, banana, cinnamon, chocolate,vanilla, cherry, mango, ginger, etc…??

Is it a freedom of choice?

Well in a society where “Likes” are monitorised to regulate what you might “Like” next, which nevertheless creates a loop, can freedom be really the possibility of choice? Can freedom be related and linked to the consumeristic everyday life?

From this point Žižek makes a sharp point; the comparison between freedom with love, i.e. the act of falling for someone, which entails a continuous negotiation to create a certain degree of compatibility with our partner’s life, makes a good example of freedom.

According to Žižek freedom is not the possibility to live in a consistent anarchic state, where we are “free” to do exactly what our mind tells us, but to understand the surrounding and negotiate with it.

Freedom is based on a certain degree of entropy, which makes us adjust to any current conditions.

This specific skill makes us free, i.e. we are able to find our own “freedom” within any kind of event that our life might give to us.

The Image of Venice (Beach)

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Reading the article “How Images Shape our Cities” in “The Guardian” made me think about Venice CA. One of the most fascinating things that made me love Venice Beach is the thrill of imagination that you can find around. Venice Beach, area of Los Angeles on the Pacific Ocean, has been artificially created by Abbot Kinney between the end of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th; canals and boats echoed what for him was his image of Venice. Nevertheless when America changed his relationship with urban space and cars mainly became the transportation system, Venice canals had to disappear and replaced by roads. Memories are still kept though through toponymy, for instance Grand Canal avenue reminds the biggest water way that one day passed through the same place.

Names are not the only memory left. If you walk around the roundabout nearby Grand Canal Avenue, where a gondola is still in place, you might find an anonymous building completely covered by graffiti. It represents those ancient days, when Venice was still the city to be experienced by boats and bridges. The graffiti location is, nevertheless, perfect, because it does make you travel through time to join those ancient days of American Arcadia.

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Such vibrant relationship with “real” space doesn’t resemble only the past, as it also portrays an imaginary city of the present. Many blank building’s facades along the Ocean Walk are the scenario of different kinds of Venice(s) that might exists in parallel with the “real” one. Architectural historian Reyner Bahmam celebrates one of these graffiti in his fantastic documentary “Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles”.

Venice, then, makes me wonder about the “real” space of the city, what is it exactly? Venice has been created under a visionary dream and, to some extent, the dream is the thread that gives continuity to its urban image. Whether it might appear a sequence of flamboyant buildings that enrich the landscape of such popular tourist area, its unique character is definitely given by the discontinuity of its urban horizon, which makes its own image.

On Otium

According to Cato, the Republican politician who lived in this world between 234 BC – 149 BC, when otium landed on Roman society from Greece, it destroyed the solidity and morality of human being. Nevertheless Otium is a necessary moment of everyday life where we gain drops of self enquire that allow us to develop criticality of the surrounding, because of the “happy-not-doing-basically-anything”. In our society time is one of the most important currency; otium is then considered a crime. Otium is not about leisure, as Cato intended it, as it is more related to the status “I am busy” even though “I am having fun“. In our society you can’t doing anything, it is social humiliating, it’s so improper. Technology moulds such time-based life with its gadgets, which keep us updated of performances. We know how good (or bad) we performe in every single moment of our life. The circle around which we are trapped in doesn’t reflect any wonder, any nonsense, any serendipity. Time consumes time. As algorithms create the infrastructure of our everyday by defining routes created by matches, unexpected diversions, or drifts, are not “planned”, as mainly such algorithms are controlled by private corporations, whose interest concerns on feeding the value of obsolesce. The LSE lecture offers a brilliant analysis of such contemporary condition.