Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Life of the mind

Here in Buenos Aires, there is a fierce intellectual hunt for self-knowledge through the lenses of culture, society and politics. This tenacity of the search I have seen in few other places...

I have found in quotidian reading debates and viewpoints that would never be found in widespread media in the U.S. nor in much of Europe (with the exception of France). Here is a sampling of recent topics in a weekly news magazine: "The Black Book of Freud" (article with several excerpts from a recently published book in France which brings to light many of the controversies of Freud, such as he consumed copious amounts of cocaine, he fabricated patient histories to fit his intended views and homophobia tainted his clinical views -- facts that scholars have long known which have not reached a level of public awareness); "The Culture of Lies (in Argentina)", and countless articles criticizing the government. The publications are skillfully written, weaving together many historical facts and examples of Argentinian life past and present with articles by different authors refering to issues raised amongst themselves (so it conveys the sensation of a roundtable of people in an active, multi-layered discussion, quite a feat for a 2-dimentional medium) with a firm belief in public discussion for the goal of social-actualization and personal and social improvement.

I appreciate it immensely! I realize this life of the mind is largely absent in the U.S., even in New York City.

Yesterday was a huge demonstration in the streets of Buenos Aires against police brutality (a teacher was killed by a gas canister fired by a policeman last week) and against the goverment which is seen as institutionalized corruption. Schools were closed and mid-day public transportation was temporarily halted. Tens of thousands of people participated (the streets were packed!) in a relatively peaceful manner, so far as I know and experienced myself as I walked around and took photos. It was refreshing to see so many people physically supporting and contributing to a public debate about the role and specific acts of police and government.

The Presential Rose House (in the background), besieged with peaceful protesters:


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