Is Post-Truth An Elite Invention?

THIS IS AN OPINION ARTICLE, REPOSTED TO START A CONVERSATION. SOURCE. 

“There is a joke in the humanities circles about the predictable trajectory of conventional intellectual debates in university spaces and elsewhere. The proper way to understand the world, so goes the joke, is to engage with terms like orientalism, colonialism, nationalism, modernism etc. and then start the process all over again by prefixing ‘post’ before each term in the same breath. The ingenuity of the joke is striking as it reveals the inability of scholars to capture contemporary reality as anything other than post-ness of earlier realities. Even then, these scholars may be forgiven, or even sympathised, for the simple reason that, at least theoretically, these post-everything claim to contest the truth claims and universality of those post-less terms. Thus post-modern is not necessarily the aftermath of modern, but a more critical and nuanced attitude towards modernity, or as one of the advocates of postmodernism proposed, it is ‘an incredulity to meta-narratives’.

For academics and scholars, truth claim is associated with power, and by that logic, the emergence of this chimera called post-truth should bring hope rather than despair. Interestingly though, the world of journalism which gave life to post-truth as a contemporary truth-slaying monster has not been able to match the theoretical sophistication of academics and philosophers. We may say that the post-truth order is a manifestation of our lack of imagination to understand our times and our place in it. And we are told that this new order is something, which has descended upon us and has made itself manifest in Brexit and Trump’s presidency and is facilitated by something called fake news.

Some Indian columnists and intellectuals see elements of post-truth in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power and everything he says and does. But if truth-claim is an intellectual vice, where do we place the term ‘post-truth’, which mourns the loss of reason in contemporary times? In 2016, post-truth became the word of the year though it was coined earlier in 1992 by an American dramatist. The term is defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

If post-ness means an attitude of incredulity/suspicion, we should be celebrating the ‘absence’ of truth, the way we celebrated post-modern and post-colonial. The fact that we are mourning over it not only betrays the inability of thought leaders to decode people’s behaviour, but in an insidious way, deny people the privilege of accessing truth. Though post-truth is linked with degradation of news media and the latter’s descent into the world of lies, what is conveniently ignored is that the very idea of media is predicated on the act of mediation or re-presentation; that is to say, media at best can only attempt to capture reality, but cannot really capture it. Untruth or lies are not extrinsic to media; they are in the heart of the latter.

Regardless of our conviction that the journalist is a truth-agent and is interested in unravelling truth, the fact of the matter is that truth is not antecedent to his/her social and moral universe. In reality, post-truth does not reveal the incapacity and irrationality of people; it reveals the growing realisation by elite subalternists that their time of entitlement over truth is over and that people are willing to explore and even produce their own truths outside mainstream (mostly left-liberal) media. For elite subalternists, subalterns are good fellows as long as they trust their elite emancipators.

Mainstream Media And Their Fake News

Post-truth order and its tools in the form of fake news reveal mainstream media’s fear that people no longer believe in their claims of transparency and see them as ideologically driven. Here are some illustrations, which will establish the collusion of left-liberal news media in the production of half-truths and lies. Recently, there was a news item in the form of a confession from Karan Thapar, a leading TV anchor whose intellectual credentials in journalistic circles is beyond doubt. He retracted from his earlier accusation of the Modi government for not having done enough to retain Raghuram Rajan as the Governor of RBI.

Thapar was not alone; all mainstream English media houses asserted the same and did not forget to add that Rajan was shunted out for being a critic of Modi’s politics. This is in spite of the fact that Rajan himself had cleared the air that he will not be able to extend his leave from his university. After spreading this ‘truth’, Thapar owned up the mistake, but while doing so, did not forget to establish himself as a responsible journalist and seeker of truth. First he produced truth in imagining Modi’s aversion to Rajan and then claimed that it was a mistake, thus making way for another truth. Truth indeed can reward one twice.”

Read more here

Photo credit: Getty Images

What do you think of this opinion? Should we celebrate the Post-Truth Era?

Can comedy save us in the “post-truth” era?

In her fascinating, comprehensive new book “The Girl in the Show: Three Generations of Comedy, Culture, & Feminism,” author Anna Fields reveals the audacious women who shaped modern comedy — and the obstacles they overcame just to get a place on the stage to make audiences laugh. Culled from both exhaustive research and interviews with luminaries like Abbi Jacobson and  Molly Shannon, it’s a tribute to the power of women standing up.

Fields spoke recently with Salon.com about comedy and the “girls” in the rooms where it happened.

On the presumed masculinity of humor:

We do think of men when we think of comedy, and we do think of maleness when we think of a comedian. So many of the women I interviewed talked to me about how they have to “trick the audience into thinking they’re men” in order for the audience to feel comfortable laughing at them but also loving them.

It’s so fascinating — what is a comedian supposed to look like?

On how gender fluidity is changing comedy:

What is to be a female comedian? What is it to be a male comedian? What if you are a comedian of either, both, or no gender? What does that mean in terms of how you present yourself to the audience, what you are allowed to joke about, and whether your audience will feel comfortable joking with you about that thing?

On the political power of laughter

I’ve always asked myself if, given that we live in an era in which so many of our leaders are abdicating their role as truth tellers, if comedians, by telling us the truth, become our new national leaders?

**Watch the video for the full interview. Click here to be redirected to salon.com

**Feature image credit: Salon.com

Can Comedy Save Us? What Do You Think?

Lana Del Rey suddenly sounds like the poet laureate of post-truth

“Everybody says this new Lana Del Rey album is the one where she finally makes contact with reality from inside her perfumed dream silo, but I think it’s the other way around. With our government making each day of 2017 feel less believable than the one that came before, American reality — or the dismantling of it — seems to be merging with the singer’s vision.

Reality is fragile. If we intend to share it with one another, we have an obligation to protect it. And that’s one big lesson that art is always teaching us: The more familiar we become with what reality isn’t, the better we understand what it is. So we self-educate on the other side — through novels, through movies, through surfing our own theta waves, and now, through Lana Del Rey songs. “Is it the end of America?” she wonders on her record, asking the most burning question in the republic from deep within a dream.

Which is all to say that this new album, “Lust for Life ,” feels like a 21st-century Watusi down the yellow brick road — a gratifying pivot from the old stuff, which only ever made Del Rey sound as if she was dream-journaling on Xanax.”

Read Full Article on Washingtonpost.com

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Are You a Fan of Lana Del Rey’s New Message?

The Post-Truth World – Why Have We Had Enough Of Experts?

We are living in a post-truth world, where alternative facts and fake news compete on an equal footing with peer-reviewed research and formerly-authoritative sources such as the United Kingdom’s global news and current affairs service, the BBC.

Read more:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lbsbusinessstrategyreview/2017/05/22/the-post-truth-world-why-have-we-had-enough-of-experts/#15b8140754e6

Call for Media-Makers: POST-TRUTH Project

On Inauguration Day 2017, Open Signal and Lower Boom partnered to launch the POST-TRUTH project, at Post-Truth-World.com.

We’re awarding $1000 stipends to five regional media-makers so they can make original works about “post-truth,” or what it’s like to live in a post-factual political era.

Project Requirements
We’d like regional filmmakers, storytellers, media-makers and artists to submit proposals that include project descriptions, scripts, works in progress or finished films.

After stipends are awarded, media-makers will have four months to complete their projects. The finished work will premiere at a public Post-Truth screening in November, to be hosted on the Post-Truth-World.com website, and to air on Open Signal’s website and cable channels.

To Apply
You’re invited to submit proposals to POST-TRUTH now through May 30 at midnight. Read application instructions and submit online at:

https://www.opensignalpdx.org/about/opportunities/

Call for Media-Makers: POST-TRUTH Project

How to fight ‘fake news’ in a post-truth environment

Though co-opted by US President Donald Trump, the ‘fake news’ phenomenon is global and weakening trust in media.

Its definition is unclear and can change depending on whom you ask. It is used in increasingly politicised ways across much of the world.

And, although its leap to prominence is largely due to 140-character Twitter posts coming out of the White House, it now has widespread implications for journalism, politics, and how people everywhere share information online.

But what exactly is “fake news” and what effect is it having globally?

Read more:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/03/fight-fake-news-post-truth-environment-170327162945897.html

Journalism Fights for Survival in the Post-Truth Era

THE NEWS MEDIA is in trouble. The advertising-driven business model is on the brink of collapse. Trust in the press is at an all-time low. And now those two long-brewing concerns have been joined by an even larger existential crisis. In a post-fact era of fake news and filter bubbles, in which audiences cherry-pick the information and sources that match their own biases and dismiss the rest, the news media seems to have lost its power to shape public opinion.

Read more here:

https://www.wired.com/2017/02/journalism-fights-survival-post-truth-era/