Introduction for the book- Multiple Amnezia: a post stuctural gaze


Dr.Ariella Atzmon


"A Good Introduction to a Book - from the law that will be the root and its
squaring at the same time"
(Fredrich Schlegel)


For over twenty years I have been looking for a way to penetrate the armor
protecting the deceptive power of rhetoric, propaganda and advertising
within the complex body of the liberal order. Locating the weak link in
this compound structure - the link to crack the code reproducing the power
which secures the individual's harmonious existence in democratic society -
is difficult.

Education is the key to understanding the secret of every social
organization's urge for self-preservation. As the liberal and democratic
image of society is strengthened it seems that education is the manipulative
tool operating to modify possible tensions and alleviate them. But in a
rather strange way, since education serves as a covert stabilizer of the
social order, so education's status is being diminished in the hierarchy of
academic study. This problematic and complex process is taking place while
the power of language which serves as the outer shell covering all - is
ignored. The secret link between the liberal order's sources of power and educational
patterns adopted by societies perceiving themselves free and democratic will
become clearer once we fully explore what language means to us. What is the
reason for imposing forgetfulness regarding the crucial role that language
plays as a factor in the unrelenting work of weaving images, the simulation
of what we perceive as reality.

Previously, within the realm of Judaic tradition, the status of language was
significant. The word which had "seventy faces has been denuded of its power
in the contemporary framework of the educational discourse. The status of
the linguistic sign has been reduced and even eradicated as an acknowledged
signal. In other words we can say that in the effort to clamp the
linguistic sign firmly in the status of a signal, education becomes an
enterprise for relieving tensions and forgetting reality.

The name of the book "MULTIPLE AMNESIA": namely, the duplication of
forgetfulness, hints that instead of learning about the world in a spirit of
curiosity, wonder and amazement, we steer the learners, on the straight and
narrow paths of science and technology. The future citizens are trained to
grasp the horns of the altar constructed from the system of rules and built
upon conceptual formations as the, markers of actual daily activity. In
this way the imperative to reproduce the familiar overcomes the possibility
for change. Marching along the safe route of conscripted reality which
dictates rational reasoning in the format of scientific thinking, protects
the citizens of the future from the thrill of encountering mystery. So
instead of grasping remembrance, the learners are marked by the brand of

If we chose to define reality ('Meziut') as an invention ('Hamzah'), and not
as an unfolding discovery ('Meziah') during which names are given to
existing things, then educational reality by its very nature, manufactures
for the student, simulations, like a weave of virtual reality. By
illustrating the significance of the concept - "meaning,"I hope to clarify
how the educational experience works to distract the mind from reality and
direct it to oblivion.

In enlightened liberal society in particular, humanism invalidates man
through the illusion that words possess an universal and neutral linguistic
key. The "I" delineates identity against the backdrop of meanings defined
on the basis of the forced, contractual and agreed language. Those
illusions promise boundless self-fulfillment and free choice while at the
same time they block the possibility of individual emancipation. The
question is what is education - a delusive scene, a vision of forgotten
human longings or an enterprise for obliviousness?

Education is perceived as extremely important; that is quite acceptable.
But how does the rhetoric dripping from politicians lips, regarding the
prominence of education, correspond with a juxtaposed acknowledgment that
it is considered the most contemptible sector in the hierarchy of academic
status? Many good educators wonder about the pedagogues' meager
contribution to shaping educational patterns. Perhaps the answer to the
question stems from the logic that claims that since education occupies such
an important sphere, it should not be "placed" in the hands of teachers.
Perhaps the status of education within the realm where philosophic
contemplation is no longer addressed requires re-evaluation. In texts
dealing with matters of education, the term "educational practice" is much
used, drawing its inspiration from experience and "field work." This goes
to show that education is "doing" and is not just study for the sake of
studying and cogitation.

I chose to start with the postulate that education, as a component of
inestimable strength, is not only an agent for preserving the social order,
but also the platform on which the systems acting to protect the order of
the whole are nurtured. I intend to claim that the low status given to the
sphere of education in the academic hierarchy is what enables manipulation
of this organ within the social body. This manipulation turns education
into a decisive implement blocking factors which might, according to this
claim, threaten the social order. Defining education as "practice" while
disregarding the philosophical-contemplative aspect, is like viewing the
edge of an iceberg when the submerged base lies in the hegemonic
philosophies shaping patterns of action in the "field." These positions
define the process of learning - teaching as "practice," and conscript the
participants to combined activity in the rhetoric which substitutes
cogitation for "practice." There is no way of breaching the gap between
understanding education as a contemplative insight and the approach that
relegates education to focus solely on "practice." This awareness is deeply
branded in the principal that differentiates science and scientism. From
here we can proceed to the idea on which this book is constructed.

Despite the critical tone, the book's central aim is not to disapprove the
educational discourse as a whole. On the contrary, the book will attempt to
extricate existing criticism from the sealed room of articulation about
meanings which pertain to philosophical positions, and against which,
apparently, that very criticism is directed. Any occupation which tends
towards the sphere of education, has as its cardinal aim the undertaking
to communicate. This commitment is shackled to the framework of discussion,
and is governed by unwritten rules of the hegemonic discourse, which utilize
those self-same rules to preserve themselves. In other words it is possible
to say that the hegemony of those discourses stems from the very existence
of dialogue with them and is especially valid under the conditions they
determined. The scientific discourse is part of this realm of discussions,
and the sphere of education is therefore bound to those rules reflected in
the hegemonic and authoritarian sphere of scientism.

When we attempt to criticize a specific discourse we find ourselves mumbling
in that very jargon used in the censured discourse. When we question a
particular discourse in the form of critical dialogue we tend to assume, a
priori, that there is a sufficient supply of answers. Each question
conceals some act of violence which requires a type of participation in a
game where each side attempts to decode its counterpart's intentions and to
outflank him. In this type of contest we define a query ('Sheiltah') as a
question whose answer has to be framed in the rules of the discourse under
discussion. In situations in which criticism tries to lash out beyond the
agreed upon bounds of the discourse, we might discover a broad sweep of
reactions, starting from conciliatory apologetics to aggressive techniques
which invalidate the critical question ('Plugtah'), perceiving it as
incomprehensible or unreasonable.

In recent years, every since the birth of deconstruction which threatens the
permanency of meaning, there will always be someone who will criticize
critical texts claiming that the" text is unreadable." By it's the very
nature of things, discursive frameworks protect themselves with rhetorical
stratagems that make possible blows to the soft belly of the discourse. One
could start with the request that the criticism not be obliged to proceed
according to the rules of the discourse under attack. Any criticism which
is beyond a query, and contains a demand for controversial involvement,
takes a world of "different" meanings into account, meanings that differ
from those which can be stated in the framework of the criticized text.
Therefore, beyond the controversy about the meanings adopted in any
discourse, any critical argumentation can also attempt to negate the ritual
rules of the debate so that, for example, criticism of the educational
discourse does not have to adhere to rules of scientism.

In this book I will try to express myself differently, in a way that departs
from what is accepted in the spheres I shall address. But even though I do
make use of an accepted term I will try to weave it into another reality, so
that it will attain an additional meaning. A different presentation of the
meaning of the conceptualization of the word "meaning" will constitute a
type of montage, like a composition of concepts designed to be adapted to a
different sort of a dramatized production. This book will not address
litigation directed at compromise. The state of things in the field of
education will be scrutinized against an uncompromising, principled
backdrop, comparing what happens in the "educational field" which aims
towards "closure," with naturally unyielding reasoning; between a discourse
which grants the notion of "meaning" to single channeled interpretation, and
the possibility of the movement of meanings between discourses. If the
nature of technological- scientific discourse allows for communication only
against the background of providing agreed-upon meaning, then education
copied these patterns scrupulously. The result is that educational
discourse has earned the right to enter the sphere of the social sciences.
But as a result it has conceded its philosophic and contemplative mobility.

Since education as an academic occupation is linked to the core of
scientific discourse, the transformation that came about in the very essence
of education in the past one hundred years is indeed complex. In this book
I will clarify how scientific discourse and educational practice are
mutually dependent, even more than the academic world is willing to
acknowledge. Since it may be said, rather cynically, that education is a
tool so important for maintaining the liberal democratic system, that it can
not be left in the hands of the pedagogues. Possibly, the lack of
readiness in principle, on the part of active participants in the existing
systems to digest this idea, could constitute a rich source of energy in the
search for a new formulation. The feelings of frustration or anger
accumulated during years of silence might create a platform for weaving a
discourse of another type, a discourse that will create meanings capable of
arousing real and profound listening to what is being said.

Every book is autobiographical in some way. We are doing battle with ideas
which make us angry and attempt, in dialogue with ourselves to articulate
issues along an alternative route, aimed at persuasion. This silence, which
began in muteness - the inability of 'saying'- and reached the conscious
choice not to say anything. That led to the stage where from the silence of
negation was born the personal statement. Apparently only those
controversial texts that anger us incorporate the momentum for springing
forward that redeems thinking from its suffering. There is nothing like
disapproval of dominant ideas to activate energy. This energy will spur the
creation of the new doctrine and give rise to a new sense of wonder and
questioning. There is no greater power than the mute compulsion that man
imposes on himself to arouse doubts regarding presuppositions of the
critical assumptions made under the cover of the existing discourse. No
matter how much rage it engenders this frustration and imposed silence,
resulting from the inability to articulate, gives rise at first to the
torturous search for opening positions of a different type of criticism,
which invites a new interpretation to old words. In this way I found myself
battling with the cyclical and insoluble difficulty of choosing the existing
terminology employed for my purpose in order to propose an alternative
vocabulary. Since words are the only implement we have to express
ourselves, I must decide how to use words taken from those familiar
discourses in order to create my own private criticism, and yet still be

I recall a conversation with a renowned lecturer in the field of education
and communication, who deals with the moderation of communicative hostility.
In this conversion the lecturer asked to learn about the academic sphere I
was addressing. After a great effort, which lasted for all of three
minutes, her pleasant, professional demeanor did not succeed in masking her
disgust which emerged as a kind of a communicative-hostility. The attempt to
describe my theoretical activity was resentfully rejected for its inability
to present a professional visiting card in one short sentence. Simply,
effectively and parsimoniously that same lecturer declared that any field
that cannot be defined in ten words is not worth being related to seriously.
But what can be done, when it is impossible to focus a description of that
field of occupation based on two variables only. It appears that when "the
knowing how to ask " tries to make a play for the arena which is unavailable
to answer its questions, then the communicative dialogue is locked.

It is customary to investigate education using scientific tools. Addressing
the educational dialogue from a position, which locates education as a
decisive factor in shaping the rhetoric of science, is both complex and
difficult. The claim about the centrality of education is based on the
assumption that the power of persuasion within science is crystallized
through patterns of science teaching and the mutual support existing between
the process of teaching science and images of science as grasped by the
public. These are the sources of power in the socio-political, cultural and
public texture of the liberal democratic system. It is difficult to carry
out a systematic argumentation regarding the conditions of self maintenance
in this liberal democratic habitat, when seen against the backdrop of the
claim that a complex link, almost impossible to unravel, exists between
three factors: educational patterns, images of science and patterns of
persuasion which are utilized in the whole system starting from the
political system and ending in levels of the school "discourse." The links
among the three factors mentioned above are so convoluted that finding a
suitable path which would dovetail with the rules of the academic game, the
game which forces presentation of 'well-done', easily digested and
masticated texts, is an almost impossible mission.

In the clash with philosophical schools such as positivists phenomenologist,
or streams labeled as 'critical', which are trapped in scientism's net, I
found support in the rereading of Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" and
immersing myself in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, or of Emanuel
Levinas, and also in the texts of Barthes, Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard,
Baudrillard and others. Despite the differences in the styles of these
philosophers, I found myself bewitched by the charms of different thinking,
which encouraged the reformulation of meaning. The philosophical,
intellectual meandering in these texts captivated me, allowing me acceptance
of solitude without a sense of abandonment. I discovered that despite the
outspoken criticism of several postmodern thinkers about Kantian philosophy,
it was possible to study and restudy Kant and from there proceed to German
romanticism, from Schelling to Schlegel and up to Hegel and Marx. Lyotard's
article "Kant after Marx", illuminated the path for thinking and the
emergence afresh of ideas without chronological order. Ideas just soared
like space ships in a strange time tunnel moving from the future to the
past, eventually landing and capable of being absorbed into the ripened and
sufficiently matured present. In this fascinating trip, starting from the
chaos of thoughts and carrying on in a mind-boggling muddle of flashes
blazing through new territory expressions previously trapped in the bubbles
of past discourse, emerged.

As my interest in the complexity inherent in education gathered momentum, I
found that those same texts which had ensnared me with their difficult
interrogative questions, without the unique ability to provide an answer
could not be located in any one defined library department. Characterized by
a short shelf life, most of these books tended to drift from one section to
another in both libraries and major book shops. When I looked for a book by
Barthes, Derrida, Lacan or Lyotard I was sent back and forth, from the
communications sections to literature, and from there to linguistics, or
cultural criticism, and then back to philosophy, psychoanalysis or history.
These writers, who mention the subject of education in their work either
directly or obliquely, and whose ideas might lead to opinions about links
between science education, scientific, language and linguistics, never
appeared on library shelves in the schools of education.


In the era when leaders of modern, academic institutions grade the
productivity of their scholars according to the abundance of researches they
are capable of providing, the question is how to offer a theoretical study
that deals with the heart and brain of academic occupation, and which at the
same time is not defined as research. If for the purpose of the discussion
we define research as controlled activity - its aim being to get results
that can be positioned in the familiar discursive field - then the present
text will not be considered research. I hope that this text will be termed
a written conversation with the reader, a talk written in the midst of inner
doubts, searching for words which may be used in a new manner. This will
be called an attempt to include the reader in the yearning for expression.
In the statement from Roland Barthes' 1986 book "The Rustle of Language,"
Barthes asks the difficult question: in whose name is he talking, and
delivering his message? Is it in the name of a particular body of
knowledge? Is it in the name of scientific research, or in the name of
institutionalism? Barthes answers these and other questions that he talks in
the name of language, in the name of writing, when writing is to be
preferred over speech. Writing does not represent the authentic experience
and is not capable of capturing the image of real situations on the same
level that speech can. Any writing that is not "research" can speak in the
name of language, not in the name of reality. Therefore, for Barthes to
write in the name of language means to forego the actuality expressed in
speech for the abstraction of writing.

This book will not flood the reader with concrete examples, and therefore
will not fulfill the research definition. This manuscript may be considered
research only if that research should be defined as a revelation of
language's painful power and pleasure, through words searching for the
nature of reality. This text relates to the meaning of the word "research"
interpreted as to learn, to contemplate and to follow up images of reality
in a hidden and vanished continuum.

More than a recipe for better education, this book is an anthology of
questions in the sense of wondering what do we mean by "education?" We can
summarize this by noting the distinction that Harold Alderman(1977) makes
between gliding and surfing in mysterious conditions of air pockets, waves
and wind - and the control afforded by an airplane or motor boat. While
surfing, gliding or sailing, we are like a drawn string listening to the
creative murmur of the melodybut in motorized navigation we learn to
control our movements, but without listening closely.

This trapped educational dialogue is confined by the demand for
confirmation: real listening is forgotten, and paying attention to what is
unsaid, is not recalled.

An abstract study into education is not a search for a "way," but a struggle
with the Heiderggerian question "what is a way"? Is the essence of education
trapped in alleviating the unfulfilled human desire for recognition, or is
it perhaps working towards oblivion and the denial Being?

Between the demand to identify and the longing for an expression of
identity, I rejected sectarian identification which defines in advance the
stream thought to which I will assign my remarks, and chose, instead writing
as rhetoric devoid of oratory.