The Nature of True Freedom III: Creating A Shared Image of the Future
We see the third perspective vividly displayed in the forementioned pessimistic, existential images offered by the post-world war novelists and psychoanalysts—and perhaps in Lasch’s description of an individualistic, narcissism-based future. We see two of the more optimistic perspectives on the future offered by social observers who come from a more theological orientation. Martin Buber (1958) offers us a vision that speaks to the first perspective—that there is something beyond our current concerns that deserves our commitment. I/Thou is about relationships that are embedded in a deep, caring love for one another on behalf of the ultimate Thou (God).
Paul Tillich (1948) offers a similar perspective—but it is somewhat more secular in nature. We find Grace in relationship to one another in society; however, this Grace is embedded in a full appreciate for all aspects of human history (including its atrocities) and the reform of human society. We find similar visions offered by other political, economic and religious leaders throughout the world and throughout history. Some of these perspectives remain inaccessible or not very compelling. Others have a numinostic and strange attractive appeal that has driven the decisions made by and actions taken within specific societies. For Polak, the key point seems to be the way that an idea is translated into a specific, tangible image.
The World of “Eidetics” (a general theory of images)
Fred Polak (1973, p. 5) notes that the future “not only must be perceived, it also must be shaped.” This means that we must move from an idea about the future to a tangible image of the future. tangibility (I have tried to provide this tangibility in previous essays when offering specific examples). Polak believes that the future must be seen, heard and even tasted. As a palpable entity, the Future can be the focus of countless debates, deliberations, quarrels, shared moments on enthusiasm, collective inspiration, and collaboration. Images are formed in myths, legends, songs, and theatrical enactments. We live in a world of eidectics (images). We celebrate the potential of collective futures during our holidays, in our construction of monuments, in our enactment of parades, and in our faithful repetition of family rituals. These enactments move us beyond idea to image. I would suggest that we as human beings are “homoeidetics” (lovers of images) — just as we are homo ludens (lovers of play) (Huizinger, 1968).