The New Culture Industry (II)

How are we to respond to the new culture industry that has taken control of our society? We may have several responses to this market fundamentalism that has penetrated our religion, democracy and politics. Here I wish to seek someway by exploring the world of music. Music is a universal language and its aesthetics draws us to it across language and cultures. There is a music effect that happens to its audience across linguistic and cultural boundaries. It embraces and is embraced by all. Philosophically, we may say that it stands beyond nama rupa or names and forms. From the Western point of view, the musical aesthetics generates a nominalism that speaks differently to its different audiences embracing everyone differently.

Nominalism has a theological undergirding. It has its grounds in the voluntarism of the Franciscans. It regarded the will of God as more perfect against the Dominicans who set the intellect of the divine on the highest pedestal. Nominalism somewhat overcomes Platonic essentialism. Quiddity or the whatness of thing forgets the thisness or hacceitas of the thing. This means while we focus on the essentialism, we marginalize the uniqueness of things. This attention to thisness can open to us the dynamic world of quantum physics where subatomic particles do so much depend on thier essence or whatness but on their thisness or a kind of abilities that they acquire in different dynamic contexts.

Besides, the dance of subatomic quarks, we may also draw inspiration from music where we have merely seven notes and we can produce beautiful music through their several transpositions. A simple combination of notes like Do Mi Sol can take transposed forms like Sol Mi Do, or Mi Sol Do or Sol Do Mi and Mi Do Sol produce different musical effects in different contexts. The important question that we may ask in this context is: do the notes sublate each other in Hegelian cancellation dynamism to reach musically a higher level? I do not think that music follows the logic of opposition to Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. I rather think that music is a harmony of notes where notes simply shift into silence to make space or ground to other notes to express their unique voice. This is the hacceitas or thisness that musical notes produce. There is no sameness in the sense of essentialisms that haunt us but a dynamic dance of several other thisnesses.

The humble epistemology that is rising from quantum physics or from musicology that we tried to manifest here is challenging us to embrace an ontologizing that is dynamic and is open to play. We have given too much rope to essentialisms of several hues and have to lead to closed thinking that seems to have led to this reigning new culture industry in our society. Maybe the advaita logic of identity and difference or the Jaina logic of shayadvada or ever Buddhists non-substative self as well a metaphysics that makes change central to it may enable us to open ourselves to nominalist ontologizing that is open to the thisness of reality without forgetting its quiddity. This mode of thinking may provide ways of understanding the dance of plurality as well as our unity in diversity. We need our Indian-ness and different ways of being Indian to be faithful to the spirit and ethos of our civilization. The new culture industry is taking us away from the true way of being Indian embracing and celebrating our diversity.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao