by Elin Sporrong
Unknown Cloud in Berlin, Germany 14 July 2017 Photo: Erika Tanos
Elin Sporrong, decision analyst and historian of ideas, works with identifying ideas and presumptions in decision processes. She recently edited and co-authored the Swedish anthology Kritiskt tänkande - i teori och praktik (Critical thinking - in theory and practice).
There are few words that can awake such dissonance as freedom. Its connotations are rooted in political, philosophical, cultural and intellectual discourses, emerged and refined through time. Like a pendulum swinging from hard reason to delicate senses. And although freedom indeed is an abstract concept, we seem to have a clear notion of what it means to us; how it feels and how its presence moves us. It is the antithesis of being confined - being held back and captured. But in which states of life and mind do we experience true liberation? At what point in time did we feel unleashed from the past and enabled to gaze into an unforeseen future? Is this the essence of freedom?
"Liberty is a practice", Foucault wrote. It is the fruit of struggle and endurance. But even within the
boundaries of thoughts - of the process of thinking - we can feel captured. The restraints of old
ideas stretch like deep grooves around us. What disruptiveness can awake us from these
retrenchments? To challenge us by the capacities of non-linearity, non-stringency, like the negative
capability of Shakespeare's work?
The longing for liberation has made us into explorers of space and time, and mystifiers of the same. Sensations of letting go and breaking free can be so tantalizing, it makes us want to bend reality.
Great art has endured and enhanced our escapism, through catharsis and critics of every society, bringing elaborative ideas, contradictions and mischief to the table.
This is the outspoken function being offered to the brave-hearted and self-scrutinizing observers, gathering in a dreamy awakening cloud.
But even beyond the stages with satin curtains, beyond the framework of artistic greatness, lies the misty exploration. The modifications, the extravagance and surrealness - to break away from what's expected - to draw close the unforeseen, these are not matters reserved for eccentrics. The evocation of reason must never have seemed duller off stage.
"The great liberation comes suddenly to such prisoners, like an earthquake: the young soul is all at once shaken, torn apart, cast forth - it comprehends not itself what is taking place. An involuntary onward impulse rules them with the mastery of command; a will, a wish are developed to go forward, anywhere at any price", wrote Nietzsche.
In the quest for disengagement from the matrix, we do not see what other systems our thoughts enter. How often has the strength of togetherness become the force of conformity? How often has authenticity become imperative, as structures enter structures? We are mythmakers, and system makers, we are the fictionators in interplay, in intellectual milieux, in politics, online, and just in front of one another. This is the fabric of empowerment in the us:ness while we're chanting, and these are the properties of the special:ment of elitism.
The yearning for liberation truly seems to captivate us, and yet, our addictive behaviours are not properties of freedom by any definition.
Unknown Cloud in Diphu, Assam, India, 14 July 2017.
Photo by: Sarlongkiri Ingti (Lee Eh Kiri)
Back to articles