The Last Judgement (2021)
The Last Judgement (2021)
On May 15, 2023, we received the Iranian director Azadeh Masihzadeh at the Institute of Philosophy to discuss her documentary “All Winners, All Losers” (2019) in relation to plagiarism, truth and lies, fiction and authority.
For more information on this fascinating work and the plagiarism controversy that surrounds it, see Rachel Aviv’s article in The New Yorker “Did the Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi steal ideas?”
About the documentary:
Shokri is a prisoner who, on his one-day leave from prison, finds a backpack full of money: instead of using it to pay his debt – the cause of his imprisonment – he tries to find the owner, in order to return the sum. He is “a hero”, being featured on local Fars TV. But is he? What part of that is true? And what do the prison authorities have to do with it? In this movie, the director dismantles in a subtle and smart way the net of lies woven by and around Shokri. In some sense, this film is like a symbol for a kind of social interaction: above any kind of (geo)political constraints or system. The fact that precisely the idea developed in this film seems be stolen by an established and highly regarded film director, makes the story even more cynical.
Mathew Wills discusses how “the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the U.S. came with censorship and obfuscation about the effects of the radiation on those who were exposed.” Click here to read the whole article on JStor Daily.
Taken in its primary sense, the notion of authenticity refers to a real, and duly established, link between the appearance of a person, a thing, an act or a behavior and its own nature, its identity or its singular history—with an emphasis, in general, on the point of origin of this history. This basic definition invites us to classify authenticity among the negative or oppositional concepts. Authentic is that which has not been falsified. The idea of deception constitutes, in a way, the semantic exoskeleton of a concept which can only be conceived in opposition to the hypothesis of falsity. One of the consequences of this negative constitution is that the attribution of a label of authenticity presupposes the carrying out of tests by which one tries to exclude the possibility of deception.Continue reading “Negotiating Authenticity: The Case of “Jesse James’s” Revolver”
On September 29, 2022, Ayelet Gundar-Goshen met with Roland Breeur, Elad Magomedov and Christoph Buchwald for a discussion about her novel Liar and lying in general. The meeting took place at the Institute of Philosophy in Leuven, Belgium.
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen was born in Israel in 1982. She holds an MA in Clinical Psychology from Tel Aviv University. She was a news editor on Israel’s leading newspaper and worked for the Israeli civil rights movement. Her film scripts won prizes at international festivals, including the Berlin Today Award and the New York City Short Film Festival Award. ‘One Night, Markovitch’ (2012), her first novel, won the Sapir Prize for best debut, and her novel ‘Waking Lions’ (2014) was awarded the 2017 Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize. Her novels have been translated in ten languages.
Every modern war is fought on two fronts. First and foremost, there is the physical battlefield, which is the place of territorialization and material destruction. But there is also the spiritual battlefield where battles are fought through territorialization not of extended space, but of consciousness. Such is the task of propaganda: the dissemination of information and images among the troops and the people, with the intention of shaping the way they look at reality in order to attain a desired effect. When Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022, what was a war in the physical realm became through propaganda a ‘special military operation’ to ‘liberate Donbas’ and ‘de-nazify Ukraine’. Russian state media were immediately geared towards a flood of information and images that justified the invasion as an act of necessity and ceaselessly reported on its successes. Any event involving a violation of international law on the part of Russia was ‘debunked’ by the Russian administration as disinformation and lies; if footage depicted dead Ukrainian civilians scattered on the streets as a result of indiscriminate Russian attacks, their corpses were denounced as ‘staged’. Putin’s troll farms, as described by Peter Pomerantsev in This is Not Propaganda, were engaged on social media to spread confusion and misinformation. Following the instructions of the Ministry of Enlightenment, the curriculum of Russian schools was modified to incorporate patriotism and justification of Russian aggression. This aligned with a series of educational reforms that had begun before the invasion and aimed at an elimination of Ukrainian identity in occupied territories. All these manifestations of propaganda—inversion of accusation, discrediting information, education, and so on—are organized by a consistent narrative that establishes the ‘special military operation’ as an inevitable response to Ukrainian separatists ‘exterminating’ millions of Russian residents and stimulating the expansion of NATO towards Russian territory. As Putin put it in his speech, which he delivered on the day of the invasion, Ukrainian separatism is a product of a corrupted government that after eight years did not accept Russia’s ‘endless attempts’ to “settle the situation by peaceful political means”.Continue reading “Russo-Ukrainian War and Propaganda”
Where belief in supernatural phenomena collides with a scientific understanding of nature, the naturalist encounters superstition as a figment of imagination and a remnant of an ancient world. The author of an article about vampires in St. Charles Herald of September 6, 1884 thus speaks like a true naturalist when he discusses “a revival of the old superstitions of blood-drinking bats and men” and remarks that “certainly no more extraordinary or appalling belief ever troubled men’s wits. […] That the dead returned from their graves to prey on the flesh and blood of the living should have ever been believed by thousands of people sounds incredible.” Unlike those who tend to believe that the universe is permeated by forces which transcend natural laws—be they benign or demonic—the naturalist’s imagination only finds its gratification within the immanent sphere of the natural; his understanding regarding the origin, the span, and the terminus of reality is confined to the universe understood as a totality regulated by laws of physics and chemistry, which together produce material events governed by rules of causality wherever the necessary conditions for such events are met. Anything that is conceivable without contradiction with naturalist instincts and common-sense ceases to be a ‘mere’ figment of imagination and attains a claim to possible existence, however minimal or hypothetical that claim to existence may be. Hence the conceivable possibility of time-travel, parallel universes, the simulation-hypothesis, and extra-terrestrial civilizations, as opposed to the non-existence of vampires, witches, ghosts, fairies, and angelic or demonic forces. From a naturalistic perspective, the first series of entities is said to be ‘hypothetical’, whereas the second is called ‘superstitious’.Continue reading “Belief in Aliens as a Naturalistic Superstition”
On January 17, 1991, when the U.S. president George H. W. Bush initiated Operation Desert Storm as a response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, the U.S. found itself putting to the test the principle of a ‘Televised War’. As Jean Baudrillard famously observed, the entire Gulf War only took place as a televised simulation that was produced by the CNN and other major news networks, who reported from the battlefield as the conflict unfolded. Journalists were reduced to actors, action-oriented scripts guaranteed narrative when nothing was happening, cameras framed American war-machines flying above the desert as if they were about to save the world, and the mise-en-scène ensured exhibitionism of high-tech military gear. So extensive was the emphasis on machines and technology, one could have almost forgotten that this war was fought by and against human beings. Baudrillard’s claim that “the Gulf War never happened” aimed precisely at the fact that the public perception of the war in question was completely configured by a certain televised image of war, which the media constructed through a goal-oriented production-process, and which served as an Ersatz for the real physical event that remained in the dark.Continue reading “The Phantasm of American Greatness”
Cult leaders and religious fake
Con artists and fake professionals
Fake relics and artefacts
Imposture in nature