Starting a new book: Psychopolitics

Byung-Chul Han has dramatically changed the way I see the world. His books use a simple language—something unusual from an academic—the ideas are accessible for the general public. He is not a popular writer, though. None of his books will ever make it to any of the “prestigious” bestsellers lists, and thus, excluding certain circles, he remains an unknown philosopher.

New ideas may be easy to apprehend but hard to embrace, especially when our core beliefs are challenged. Growing up as someone interested in technology—which now makes a living as an engineer—I systematically rejected ideas criticising the—then potential, now real—threats of new technologies. Some benefits of technology are undeniable true, but that's only one side of the coin. Close friends —usually older than me and working outside technological areas—patiently tried to help me on expanding my view but failed—only now, many years later, some ideas start to make sense. When I read Han's books, it feels like an old friend patiently talking to me, kindly inviting me to look beyond appearances. I must listen more carefully this time.

The Exploitation of Freedom

Freedom will prove to have been merely an interlude. Freedom is felt when passing from one way of living to another — until it turns out to be a form of coercion. Then, liberation gives way to renewed subjugation. Such is the destiny of the subject; literally, the 'one who has been cast down'.

The opening paragraph of pshychopolitics is problematic already; we live in a society that claims to be free, where freedom is a core value. Are we capable of having a critical view of our freedom?

Next, the author states that freedom is felt (does that mean it exists?) in the transition between states, being only a flashing moment in between (which again reminds me Emile's post).

If something characterizes our current society, it is our extreme individualism. The most important subject is me (or I), and fulfiling my desires (that no my needs) is the top priority in my world. It is worth noticing the etymological root of the word subject is “person under control or dominion of another,” specifically a government or ruler. As free individuals living in a (post)modern world, Are we still dominated by an external force? Is that the only form of domination?

#ByungChulHan #Psychopolitics