Choosing to Be anti-Oculo

We are living in an oculo-centric world. It is a visual world and we have many ways of seeing. It is said that seeing comes before words. A child sees and recognizes before he /she speaking. Seeing establishes our place in the surroundings and we understand and explain our world with words. But there is a deep relation between seeing and speaking. Our speaking is embedded in our beliefs. Our beliefs do not just condition our speaking, they also condition our seeing. Yet our speaking and explanation never truly fits the sight that we see. This may be so because seeing is selecting. We never always look at one whole thing. We select to see. We are always looking at things that we see in relation to ourselves. But it is not just that we are seeing. We can also be seen. We are part of the visible world. We also create a visible world through our paintings, photography, videography etc. Our images or visual creations out last us and things that we portray outshine and outlive the real thing they represent. Yet we have to admit that the world is more than what meets our eye. We can never see every detail. At the same time, we have to recognize that our seeing is culturally embedded. There are culture specific assumptions that color our seeing. They mystify rather than clarify our seeing. We carry a gaze to see. The gaze becomes the bias that enables us to experience what we see. Outside the gaze there is no seeing.

Seeing is seductive. Our ways of seeing act on us. We do not see innocently like a child. We see already with the gaze that is acquired by us over time. This is why mass media and the world of advertisements can seduce us to serve a certain economic and political order. Seductive nature of seeing is fully exploited by the industry. It is important, therefore, to develop critical seeing. Critical seeing interrogates the supposed experience of innocent seeing. Critical seeing requires us to understand the bewitching future that seduction is offering us. Everything is in the eye of the beholder. This is why critical seeing can enable us to stand above the visible constructed to economically and politically enslave us. This means we have to develop anti-Oculo ways of seeing. Today we need these ways of seeing more than before because of the world of Big Data Analytics hacks us and floods us with customized adverts that lure us to act in ways that benefits the market and the political order. We can no longer innocently Oedipalize to our experience in the visual world. The world of Surveillance is producing more data that will enable Big Business as well as Politics to hack us. Hence, we have no choice but to be anti-Oculo in our world of hypervisibility .

The work of Michel Foucault manifests how power uses visibility to discipline people.. Power can also use secrecy to keep us in check. He shows how utilitarian philosopher Jeremey Bentham gave the perfect design for a prison which used visibility and transparency into the architecture. His simple thesis was the more we are watched better we behave. Hence, he proposed that the prison building has to be circular so that a single guard sitting in the watch tower could keep a watch on all the prisoners. It literary builds eyes in the architecture of a prison and creates a condition of being looked at. It is like the prisoners are put in the class house where they have nothing to hide. Foucault called such apparatus of surveillance, Panopticon. He said that when one used the tainted classes in the watch tower, the condition of being watch over is created even when the watch keeping guard is absent. Foucault says that all seeing apparatus of power is extended in several areas like law, population data, health statistics of the people, etc., thus the visibilized data enables authorities to discipline them. Today we have digital surveillance that sees everything about us through the proliferation of cameras, digital maps and face recognition technologies. Hence, we have to be anti-Oculo who can see through this multiple ways of seeing and discern how it is afflicting us. Shoshana Zuboff in her book, Age of Surveillance Capitalism , shows how big tech (Surveillance Empires) has produced digital architecture that provides monitoring, analysis , predication and targeting individual behavior.

Unfortunately, in a hypervisible society, we are also willing to become visible. We are attracted to the spectacle of selfie and we display ourselves on the Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok etc. We seem to have voluntarily joined the digital Panopticon. Our presence in the digital world produces data for the Big Data Analytics that takes it into what we may call as Synopticon where our intimate and private behavior is correlated with thousands of similar persons and a Hackaton is devised to hack each one of us for economic as well as political gains of those willing to pay. Our privacy and intimacy is on sale. Our vulnerabilities grow with the growing technologies of surveillance. We have entered what we may call the Banopticon with the governments taking and storing our biometrics. This means we have no hiding place under the sun and we can be banned or given bare life by totalitarian governments by freezing our wealth as well as making it impossible for us to move or access government services. This is why we have to devise new modes of resistance to this oculo-centric all seeing world. Anti-Oculo is a one who can see through how we are made victims of surveillance capitalism. Instead of linking ourselves , we have to positively learn to delink ourselves at least periodically to free our mind from propagandist domestication that keeps us subdued to digital totalitarianism growing around us. We can also develop creative and emancipative responses where we collectively try to disrupt our data by deliberatively entering digital spaces that more sanitary, as well as work our way to deliberately fail the predictive data analytics that analyses the data that we leave on the internet. We do not have the option to be or not to be of William Shakespeare. We have to be anti-Oculos for our own sake.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao