Power and Freedom — Foucault and Benjamin

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and Faculty’s essay, Pantomimic, don’t seem to have anything in common at all. The former discusses the reproduction of art and the loss of aura that follows it, while the latter is mostly about discipline, with a design of a prison as its main foundation. However, after further reading and a lot of analysis, both essays talk about power quite a bit. While the two authors have opposing views on this subject, their ideas implement each other nonetheless.

Walter Benjamin strongly believed that art exerted power over the masses, especially before film became a popular medium. Back then, paintings and sculptures merely reflected what was going on in reality. Ironically, though, the same paintings and sculptures also shaped the lifestyles of the people living in that era. It wasn’t until film that people started to develop their critical thinking skills. Instead of merely accepting what was being shown to them, they saw movies as a permeation of lethality – this led to the audience being drawn away from contemplation and promoted heightened sense of mind.

In a way, this was a form of liberation for them. On the other hand, Michel Faculty believed that man had no real freedom. The thoughts they feel are their own, or the decisions they feel they make alone, are in fact imitations of the norms of society. From birth, people have been constantly under the watchful eyes of parent’s, teachers, or religious leaders – elders who are more than eager to impart all their wisdom and ways of life to the next generation. Thus, their ideas aren’t actually their own.

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All their thoughts have been molded and influenced by social institutions such as home, school, and church. This kind of mind play is the real source of power, at least according to Faculty. Using Jeremy Bantam’s design of the pentatonic, he discussed how the prisoners were controlled by their own minds. The knowledge that someone might be watching them at all times led them to be more disciplined. In reality, though, there were moments that nobody was even watching them. This is a clear example of what Faculty believes – man has no real freedom.

Even prisoners had to live with the knowledge that they could get caught every single moment of the day. At the end of the day, it is quite clear that Benjamin and Faculty have similar views about freedom – it doesn’t truly exist for man, especially in the latter’s case. Benjamin was willing to note some progress due to the rise of film and the increase in critical thinker, while Faculty firmly believed that there are no real thoughts that re our own – all of our ideas come from society, in a way.

However, both writers had more different ideas about the source of power. Benjamin strongly believed that art exerted power over the masses, while Faculty insisted that power came from the mind. Basically, this meaner that for the former, the source of power was from the outside; but for the latter, the source of power was more internal, even though thoughts and ideas were ultimately influenced from outside sources such as society. Power and Freedom — Faculty and Benjamin By seeable