Asymmetry (Power Aesthetics) (Gaza 2014)


What troubles a lot of people politically and morally about the unrolling events in Gaza and Israel has to do with the basic asymmetry. The social and governmental and military hardware, the physical destruction, and the human misery are completely lopsided. And the photographic evidence bears out this imbalance. I posted earlier about appeals to stats and score-keeping by which people understand or “follow” events. Reflecting our information driven culture, a lot of the analysis critical of Israel politically and morally comes to down to raw quantification driven crazy by stories and pictures of dead children. Against our better philosophical judgement, we have become empiricists.

The information is given as absolute. With no attention paid to the dialectics of power that define relations between the relatively strong and the relatively weak, it’s the gross asymmetry that bothers our moral and political intelligence. Digital creatures, we tend to ascribe significance to numbers that by themselves say nothing more about the parties to the conflict and the acts that shape it beyond a tally of the violence they produce. I think there’s something cognitive at work. Human intelligence abhors asymmetry, has no tolerance for it, and draws negative, critical judgments about asymmetrical power relations held up in contrast as to the balance and harmony that the critical eye seeks out and favors.


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.
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4 Responses to Asymmetry (Power Aesthetics) (Gaza 2014)

  1. Mordy says:

    It seems sorta morally abhorrent to confuse ethic for aesthetics.

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