Blog Body and Art in the Digital Age

The Nostalgia of the Sublime and the Radiant Materialism

Rihanna jellyfishBy Rosario Gómez (UOC)
It is common to see the fact that the media (MCO) are echoing the nostalgia of contemporary man for the suprasensitive and transcendent dimensions of life that religions once managed. Analyzing the sociocultural context of our time, we can affirm that this nostalgia is reflected not only in the cinema, but also in sports, art and advertising. We attended what I would describe, with a certain irony, as a phenomenon of "radiant materialism", since we are talking about commerce, mostly mediated by the light of the omnipresent screen that "illuminates" us.
I point out some reasons that, in my opinion, can justify this nostalgia. With the advance of materialism in technological cultures, within the so-called neo-baroque era [1], the ontological question of man takes on new dimensions related to uncertainty. The economic powers mark their laws of dehumanization trying to relegate or inhibit these forces in favor of productivity factors and the official religious powers seem irreconcilable, at times, with certain aspects of the current legality, which makes them undesirable for an important mass of the population that defends secularism and individual rights.
However, secularism faces a fact highlighted in the theory of the "clash of civilizations" by Samuel Hutington who presents us with a world shaped by civilizations, most of which are still ruled by a religious dynamic. This issue becomes very important when we witness violent clashes in various parts of the world, in which religious identity has a strong weight. Only Christianity extends to almost three billion souls, Islam to more than a billion and a half ...
In our civilization, and following the art historian Hans Sedlmayr, art historian, so many centuries of religious culture, make the human being_ who rejected the idea of ​​God in the beginning of modernity to feel autonomous [2] _, feels off center and disoriented in front of himself and his own transcendent identity. For Sedlmayr, this decentralization gives rise to one of the most genuine and original artistic adventures in the history of universal art, that of abstract art, or in Ortega y Gasset's terminology, the ultraism that runs through contemporary life and leaves its mark on artistic representations of different signs perhaps moved by the nostalgia of the sublime, of a beyond that transcends us.
On the other hand, the body is no longer one with society, the cosmos and nature as were our ancestors, the subject is configured in an intensely individual way with capitalism and feels that he has a body, he does not live himself as a body . The body is determined by mechanistic and non-holistic conceptions.
This decentering, however, coexists with what historian Marc Blo Harry Potterch [3] calls the long-term social structures, those that, coming from a long past, are part of our sociopolitical substratum and therefore condition our social conscience and our own sense of identity, thus fostering the nostalgia of previous vital conceptions.
These may be some reasons why the audiovisual market has positioned itself, from the leisure industry, offering a range of products in which a central issue returns to be, with a high degree of mystification, the adventure of the hero in relation to the transcendent dimensions of life, an adventure that began, according to Pierre Bourdieu, with the Star Wars. In this film, for the first time, the emergence of the so-called Lunar or initiatory hero, that one that faces with the forces of his interior to evolve spiritually. It is superego, but seeks union with the social and supernatural forces that make it insurmountable, in an exercise that seems to be an integration between two anthropological visions of the body, that of the primitive state of a non-dual character and the postmodern character of alter-ego. The public has responded with multi-million audience figures.
Analyzing the superproductions most demanded by the general public, we find that some of the most sought-after contemporary films (Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Tomb Raider-The Cradle of Life, The Last Airbender ...) maintain contents related to the anthropology of the spirit: religions, myths, magic and rituals.
lionel messi photoshop working by thendr d5u0jknOn the other hand, and in a brief comparative analysis of context, we see that also in major world sports events, such as the Olympics, shows are organized with constant references to the supranatural and mythological world. They present characters and scenes covered with a radiant halo, an aura that evokes the strength of the spirit (Olympics in Barcelona, ​​Greece, China, ...). Football would be the cathartic activity par excellence, which brings together large groups of human beings and football players are shown, sometimes, as titans or numinous beings in epic functions that redeem us, everything that is related to them is impregnated with aura media
Also, as an exponent of our spiritual nostalgia and within the advertising framework, psychoanalysts like Marion Woodman, defend that publicists have become a kind of spirituality officiants that surround any consumer product with aura. In this way the advertised products look like protective talismans economically plugged into the circuits of technology.
Do not forget that the lines of contemporary art are also alien to these feelings and there is a remarkable development of productions that address transcendental themes from the performing arts as well as from the plastic and electronic arts. As pointed out by Piedad Solans, despite the commitment of the atheist, anthropological and revolutionary art of the century, the view retains some symbolic referents and a worldview that underlies the mythical-religious discourse of a postmodern sublime.
In relation to the body, these blockbuster, allow us to analyze aspects of the artistic representations of the foreign body, with different supernatural powers. Also the technology openly and masterfully animates religious representations of other cultures (Tomb Raider and the cradle of life) and delves us into the beauty of some scenes that seem inspired by surreal or romantic movements, with magistrality (The Lord of the Rings) . It is the magic of current cinema.
However, it is important to ask ourselves more in depth what sublimity really consists of, when we confront one of these films, not exempt of iconographic attractions and technological excellence, with the internal tension, emotion and depth that films such as Joan of Arc of Danish screenwriter Carl Theodor Dreyer. In this film of the 30 years, the prosecution of the French heroine Joan of Arc before the Inquisition is narrated. There are hardly more special effects than the great camera work and the high level of expressiveness of the actors, together with a contrasted lighting and a sense of time that transgresses our psyche, without hardly perceiving it and leads us to question great existential questions, more beyond the affirmation of our own and habitual convictions.
Faced with all these mechanisms, there is a question of vital importance that is responsible for responding to contemporary science: Is there a transcendent identity scientifically verifiable in the human being?
The transcendence in the human being can be questioned today, from a scientific point of view, thanks to the neurobiological investigations formulated by eminent neurobiologists such as Manuel Rodríguez Delgado and Francisco Rubia [4]. They consider it an activity related to the dynamism of a specific area of ​​the hippocampus, this area shows more activity in really religious people and in the great lovers of art or life.
[1] Omar Calabrese. The neo-baroque era. ed. Chair
[2] Hans Sedlmayr. Art off center Editorial Labor, Barcelona 1959. Chap. The autonomous man
[3] Marc Bloch. Introduction to History. SL Fund of economic culture of Spain
[6] Rodríguez Delgado: The happiness. Topics Of Today. http://www.arbil.org/110delg.htm y J. Francisco Rubia: The Cosmic Connection. Editorial Critic
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