If you have "no place to go," come here!

A parallel take on "The Potemkin Moment" using even fancier words

("The Potemkin Moment"[1].) From an article by Steve Denning Forbes, of all places, on "vampire talent" and rental extraction:

We are thus about to witness a vast societal drama play out. That’s because we have reached that key theatrical moment, which Aristotle famously called “anagnorisis” or “recognition.”  This is the moment in a drama when ignorance shifts to knowledge. Just as King Lear in Shakespeare’s play eventually recognized that his apparently virtuous daughters, Goneril and Regan, were a rather bad lot, and that his apparently disrespectful daughter, Cordelia, truly loved him, so society is learning that much of ‘the talent’ it thought was adding value have in fact been extracting value for themselves.

As usual with anagnorisis and the shock of recognition at a disturbing, previously-hidden truth, there is a disquieting sense that the accepted coordinates of knowledge have somehow gone awry and the universe has come out of whack. This can lead to denial and a delay in action, even though the facts are staring us in the face.

If the recognition of our error comes too late, as in Shakespeare’s Lear, the result will be terrible tragedy. If the recognition comes soon enough, the drama can still have a happy ending. We are about to find out in our case which it is to be.

Anagnorisis = The Potemkin Moment.

Good to have the dramatic frame, though I'm not sure whether the frame is a category error or not. I would bet that anagnorisis would appear very differently to somebody in Denning's position than it would to a Walmart worker, say.

NOTE [1] I should say that I'm not referring to the famous Battleship Potemkin, whose crew revolted and helped spark the Bolshevik Revolution. I'm referring to the moment when people realize that they are living in a Potemkin Village, say by poking a pencil through the painted scenery that everybody thought was really a solid building, and people walk away from the village. I have in mind the way the authority of the Soviet State evaporated in the '90s, when most everyone decided it had no more authority over them, after Gorbachev. This 2006 usage of "The Potemkin Moment" applies to Eisenstein's famous movie about the Potemkin crew's revolt, although interestingly it too describes a recognition. However, this 2010 usage is exactly on point:

Singapore’s Potemkin Moment

In one of those only-in-Singapore occurrences, officials set up a kind of Potemkin visit for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the 40-year-old Queenstown Housing Estate, named for the Queen of England, to “to view Singapore’s public housing program and be offered the opportunity to experience Singapore’s multi-ethnic culture and traditions,” according to the royal couple’s website.

The problem is that the timing of the visit, in mid-afternoon, meant that everybody was either at work, school, or inside hiding from the island nation’s ferocious afternoon temperatures. So the government brought in volunteers to practice tai chi, stretch out at the fitness corner and for children to scamper around the playground as if it were normal activity.

However, somebody took before-and-after pictures of the scene and posted them on the Internet, which has resulted in yet another embarrassment for the government, with sharp-eyed Singaporeans erupting with online jokes and sarcasm.

Then, in another of those only-in-Singapore occurrences, an aggrieved public official, Lawrence Wong, the Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts, wrote in his Facebook page about his disappointment in Singaporeans for both mocking the volunteers and wanting to politicize everything.

Singaporeans referred to the whole episode as a “wayang” or shadow play and questioned if the whole charade had been necessary. Rather than seeing it as a proud moment for Singapore, many cringed at how fake the whole thing looked.

That's it!

No votes yet