Brian C. Ventura

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Zeitgeist: What is the idea of 2010?

Posted by Brian C. Ventura on December 31, 2010

In a few hours, the year 2010 is ending, it will cease to become numbers in the calendar and start to become an idea, a zeitgeist. The term zeitgeist was introduced by the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel to mean the spirit of the time. If we reduce the closing year into an idea or an essence what is it then?

In the popular media, yearend review of what happened in politics, business, and sports in 2010 are parts of the daily programming this time of the year.  Yahoo! Philippines listed ten events and personalities that marked the year 2010. The list included the automated election, the return of the Marcoses, barangay elections and others.

In the international news this is a common theme as well. In an article in The New York Times,  lexicographer Grant Barret reviewed how events and personalities in 2010 contributed to the public’s vocabulary (or at least the American public) by introducing new words or giving meaning to already existing words. Among the interesting words in the list are Palin’s Mama Grizzly, porno scanner, halfalogue, coffice and sofalize.

Even the firecracker manufacturers in Bulacan have also been attempting,  for a couple of years now, to capture the spirit of each passing year. They give the firecrackers they manufacture and sell names that show their own survey of the explosive events and personalities of the closing year.  “Pinoy Big Brother,” “Goodbye Gloria,”  “Trillanes,” and “Bin Laden” are among the most colorful.

This activity, to try to capture what the closing year is, in words, in lists and other representation, is similar, albeit in a much micro or shorter and less idealist version, to Hegel’s idea that each epoch or period in history represents an idea. While the lists and reviews cited above try to identify events or personalities, Hegel believe that progress of history is a march of idea, personalities and events are only realization or representation of these ideas. What the popular media is doing, therefore, is incomplete because they only present the representation, not the essence, of what it is that really transpired in 2010. What is only presented is the representation, not what is really the idea behind it.

If we to take a Hegelian standpoint,  what then is the essence of 2010? Is it renewal? Is it liberty? Is it democracy?   Is it the realisation that promises are to give way to more of the same?

Side Stories No. 7

Brian C. Ventura

Leon, Iloilo

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