Vincent is following me. Yesterday I was echoing in the woods, and lo and behold, today I got to watch him lead a discussion about echo systems in the 5th installment of Controversy. “I Love You” was also there, echoing in full sun, and therefore not as clear as the first time around. But luminous it was, and as enlightening. Perfect, and very befitting with Aros's own chamber becoming a place for Eros in the echo. The topic revolved mainly around how to free the freedom of speech from becoming a reflection of extremism. One of the leading American legal scholars in constitutional law, Cass Sunstein, was referred to and his idea that like-minded people often tend to articulate extreme views the more they sit around and debate issues, even when the starting point is moderate. Basically when a pissing contest occurs, the first thing that goes is commonsense. This latter concept I would have very much like to hear some thoughts on, but none were articulated. And I wonder why. Because it is precisely by making recourse to commonsense that we can free ourselves from hearing ourselves hearing ourselves.

There were two philosophers on the show—one a woman—and two newspaper editors, one the infamous Flemming Rose of the Mohammed cartoons. The male philosopher was on the verge of articulating what I was looking for by insisting that in a debate it's not enough to merely have opinions articulated, not even when they are well grounded and solidly argued. What we need is also a genuine ability to listen. Indeed. For this is precisely what's wrong with most public debates these days. When those who produce opinions don't make sense, we don't listen. And when we don't listen anymore what have we got left? Spectacle. The editor of Politikken pointed out that politics has turned into a circus arena, and it's all about drama and costume. The female philosopher corroborated by maintaining that there is a high level of entertainment or, as she put it, 'entertainocracy', in the media, which makes it very easy to navigate between the information we are presented with, and which we presumably want: to hear about the sex or money situation of celebrities. Who's banging whom, and who has fallen from a mighty horse is ultimately more interesting than even knowing, and then having to take a standpoint on what muslim fathers do to their daughters: rape them, allow others to rape them, or down right kill them. She was against categorizing people in fixed positions, and generalizing according to fixed identities.

Once again, the problem with the public sphere is not even that for the most part it is dominated by polarized and reductionist ideas but that it is devoid of commonsense, the ability to listen, and the capacity to recognize other voices. I often say that what would benefit the right wing conservatives is either a trip to New York that would give them a sense of what it means to be engaged, or a trip to Norway that would give them a sense of what it means to watch. Of course, however, it is ironic that in this day and age of public exhibitionism enabled by the internet and the media, what we have lost is precisely the ability to be sophisticated voyeurs. —— I'm Camelia Elias, reporting from Norway—today from the sublime mountain plateau on Auersjøvegen—echoing myself for Vincent the voyeur, and some others. Yes, there is hope that we may all learn the craft of paying attention.


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