People or Things

The destroyed Alpha Moya mausoleum in Timbuktu, 2013

The destroyed Alpha Moya mausoleum in Timbuktu, 2013

I get very caught up in the news about iconoclasm and the destruction of culture. In one article, by the art critic of the Guardian, the stale claim that human life is worth more than culture is emphatically made. He says “Culture can be renewed, remade, reinvented. Human life cannot.” Actually, the truth is exactly opposite. All of the human, including most culture, is pretty much repetition, remakes and renewal. Only some exceptional cultural products (partially) escape that destiny and give us a particular, unrepeatable single moment. Once destroyed those things are gone forever. On the other hand, there will always be more people, and the differences between them are usually very minor. The claim that every human life is sacred is pure hokum. Certainly no one actually acts as if it’s true. Status, social influence, religious delusions, wealth, fantasies of power, and, above all, the will itself, are all valued much more highly than human life. But of course it’s a journalist’s job to repeat whatever nonsense we are compelled to tell ourselves.

This entry was posted in Abstraction and Society, Current Affairs, Ethics of Abstraction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *