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My warmest regards,
Admin June 2013
Marsilio Ficino to Luca Fabiano, his scribe: greetings.
NATURE endows us
with many instruments through which we may learn: eyes, ears, noses,
taste and touch. But she gave only a single instrument by which we may
teach, namely the faculty of speaking. She has certainly warned us that
we should use the service of learning more often than the office of
teaching, in the same measure as she has provided more instruments for
learning than teaching. Therefore no man who is vebose and talkative
can be wise, for he has always taught but never learnt.
Now whoever lacks
wisdom and learning must be considered not only poor, but blind and
dumb. I pray you be swift and diligent to hear and see, but slow to
believe, slower to judge and slowest of all to speak. So that you can
speak what is good listen to what is good, and so that you may hear
well of yourself for your part speak well of others. For it cannot be
that he who speaks maliciously does not hear maliciously.
speaking beware of a lie no less than a navigator is wary of the rock.
For boundless is the light of truth, boundless its power. The lie
swiftly betrays and ruins the liar. Remember that flattery is a servile
vice, indeed more vile than servile. For however skilfully a man fawns,
he is far surpassed by small dogs.
But especially we
must beware lest, while in words we are denouncing the behaviour of
others, meanwhile our own behaviour denounce our words. You have begun
well, as I hear, therefore continue in the way you have begun.
The Loss of Privacy
“The strict surveillance that states once maintained over the
activities of the citizenry have been shifted to other centers of power
technically able (although not always legally) to find out to whom we
have written, what we have bought, what trips we have taken, what our
encyclopedic interests are, even our sexual preferences. The big
problem facing a citizen’s private life is not hackers, which are no
more frequent than the highwaymen who beset travelling merchants, but
cookies and all those other technical marvels that make it possible to
collect information about every one of us.
If in Orwell’s novel Big Brother was an alegory for Stalin, the ‘little
father’, the modern Big Brother watching us has no face and is not an
individual, it is the global economy in its entirety. Like
Foucault’s Power, it is not a recognisable entity but the combination
of a series of power centers that accept the game, backing one another
up reciprocally. The member of one center of power who spies on
others making purchases in the supermarket will be spied on in turn
when he pays his hotel bill with a credit card. When Power no
longer has a face, it becomes invincible. Or at least difficult
Who wants their privacy defended? Those who have secret busines
dealings, those who wish their personal correspondence to remain
personal, those working on research that they do not yet wish to make
public. We know all this perfectly well, but how many people call
for this right? It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of
mass society, of the press, television, and Internet, is the voluntary
renunciation of privacy. The extreme expression of this
renunciation is, at its pathalogical limit, exhibitionism. It
strikes me as paradoxical that someone has to struggle for the defense
of privacy in a society of exhibitionists.
The fact is that the authorities who watch over our privacy need to
defend not only those who wish to be defended but also those who no
longer know how to defend themselves. It is precisely the
behaviour of exhibitionists that tell us how much the assault on
privacy has become -more than a crime- a social cancer. First and
foremost, we should educate children to save them from the corrupting
influence of their parents.
But it’s a vicious circle. The assault on privacy accustoms everyone to
the disappearance of privacy. Little by little we become
exhibitionists, having learned that nothing can be kept confidential
anymore and that no behaviour is considered scandalous. Those who
are attacking our privacy, seeing that the victims themselves consent,
will no longer stop at any violation.
We must learn to work out, spread, and reward a new sensibility towards
reserve, to educate people about reserve for themselves and toward
others. Regarding respect for our own privacy, I’d like to quote
the last phrase from the brief note left by Cesare Pavese before he
committed suicide: “Don’t gossip too much.”
Umberto Eco from the ‘The Loss of Privacy’ conference speech, Venice,