The Image of the Other. Communication and Conscience


It is trivial to assert that mass media manufacture the conscience. It is not so to underscore that, even if this circumstance favors the political control of opinion and the totalitarian manipulation of the minds, it is not possible to build the conscience without the participation of communication. We only get to know in the mutual exchange of words and images, and we only get to be in the commerce of language. For this reason, the usual demonization of the media, which in mass culture simplify or trivialize matters pursuing the backing of audiences, should perhaps be replaced by a close reading of contents that helps decode underlying messages, allowing the critical exam of a metalanguage that can be a tool of conformity, but also an instrument of subversion. Understanding the language of the media does not require a Rosetta stone, but it helps to have the same event recorded in different formats, because then comparative analysis can be applied – in the Champollion manner – to the parallel texts in different characters: the facts narrated become dispensable, and the coincidences, discrepancies, repetitions or absences become the keys to decipher the language. This is how we have proceeded here with the raw matter of recent newspapers or magazines, carved by their joints with a purpose more anatomic than nutritional...[+]