The best questions answer themselves. What happened between the first editorial we published and the one that is now being written? A journal happened – this journal, which the inaugural text discussed much as Hamlet speaks of his father’s ghost. Electra was written, published, read, and seen; it was reported and reviewed.
Stupidity makes us reactive, igniting indignation, a redeeming idiophobia and denunciation. But, evidently, it is almost always the stupidity of others that is at stake, since our own, practised in the first person, is nothing but a more or less provisional episode, though overcome, a weakness that has happened in the past and that we can only feel sorry about now: “I was really stupid!”
American philosopher Avital Ronell, author of a book entitled Stupidity, continues here her attempt to understand and analyse the phenomenon and concept of stupidity, showing that, although situated in a space prior to speech, it can be appropriated by literature and by philosophy.
The matrix of contemporary art, its «primitive scene» — Marcel Duchamp’s urinal — was the object of exclusion (from an exhibition) that allows reference to be made to one of the manifestations of stupidity: «stupefaction». The bewilderment many works of art have since been able to arouse in viewers makes the evocation of stupidity pertinent, and even necessary, both in critical reception and in the confrontation of the public with contemporary art.
In the diary written by the New York gallerist Ted Bonin for Electra, personal time and world time cling to each other in an endless embrace. In the days recorded, presence is a machine of absences. Here, what is found comes with what has been lost: artworks bring faces and faces bring deaths. Through these words, which sadden and cheer, travel the questions time asks art and life. Days crossed by the light and shadows of a city where nothing stops. At the end, an unpronounced name – and silence is the voice of a threat.
Italian writer Salvatore Settis is an art historian known for his public intervention and essays on the threats raised by political and economic management to cultural heritage. This is one of the topics approached in this interview, which also deals with the pressure that historical cities are subjected by tourists, as well as the role and responsibility of architects.
In the times we are living in, new digital technologies provide us with a true flood of information. But we remain highly ignorant of how this information is produced, selected, and ranked, i.e. there is an information deficit on information itself, which leads to its acritical acceptance and a backward step in thinking and reflection.
If we define the idiot considering the etymological meaning of the word, we find an association with identity and the claim for the private, identity and a rootedness that create hostility towards everything that comes from outside. The rejection of migrants and refugees, who arrive in Europe fleeing war, terrorism, and catastrophes, is fed by a fear mechanism with the attributes of idiocy.
At its origin, the world wide web gave rise to a naïve dream — the utopia of a digital public space that would fulfil all the promises implicit in the modern conception of public space. But the outcome today is clearly a different one; instead of the promised digital paradise, the winners have been chaos and the discourse of stupidity in its most violent and regressive forms, as the example of an image board called 4chan eloquently shows us.
In the eyes of a poet born and living in Barcelona, this city has always attracted visitors and travellers, but has never easily lent itself to a complete knowledge and understanding. Today, swamped by tourists who think they see everything, it remains a mystery.