First Thoughts: You Don’t Exist If You Are Not Online

For about a year now, I’ve been thinking this way and that about launching this blog. Maybe it’s a bad idea. Don’t I already spend way too much time online or punching buttons? Don’t I need more, not less quiet? Sometimes, though, quiet is not all it’s cracked up to be by people like, well, by people like me.

 I have finally come to the certain conclusion that “you” don’t exist if you’re not online. By “you” I don’t mean you, a flesh and blood creature. What I mean here (and only here) by you is the concept you want to shape and to inhabit. Such concepts and their habitats are “fundamentally” mediated, which means that without a medium they cannot exist.

 This is especially true of contemporary Jewish philosophy and thought. Inside and outside the university, the circle of Jewish thought and philosophy has always been a small one. For its part, academic Jewish philosophy has only exacerbated that insularity by entombing itself in the super close-reading of a narrow band of canonical figures, texts, and ideas. Over time, the practice of Jewish thought and philosophy compares more and more to a tree that keeps falling in a forest with no one to hear it.

 I would like with this blog to make a place for a liberal and open form of contemporary Jewish thought and philosophy. Hannah Arendt would have called it a “space of appearance.” Today, I think it needs to appear online.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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2 Responses to First Thoughts: You Don’t Exist If You Are Not Online

  1. Gail says:

    I was writing on Bishnupriya Ghosh’s book, “Global Icons” today and worked myself into the corner of asking myself if I really was arguing that “the public sphere,” whatever that else this phrase connotes, is fundamentally a media entity–not just something mediated through social relationships, but something mediatized through radio, TV, film (cell phone video), FB, Twitter, etc. Is there a “public” today that is not caught in media somehow? There are localities and events and bodies–certainly. But a “public”? I wasn’t brave enough to answer myself, but in my heart I was nodding. Yes: “‘You’ don’t exist if you’re not online,” or on Cable or Talk Radio.
    Butler might call Arendt’s “space of appearance” a “framing.”

  2. LL says:

    Ok, it is late and I am only just looking at this site but I was taken by those faces, those guys…. There is just something familiar about them and the voice who describes them. That in and of itself is reassuring. So when I am ready to more fully think through some of what is here and some of what will be here, I hope to rise to the occasion, but for now, I am just glad to know that there is this voice and those faces.

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