By Dr Khalid Al-Saleh
If your park your vehicle in a no-parking zone, a photo of the vehicle and license plate will be taken and sent to the nearest police station by passersby, whose phones are attached to their hands. Soon, a traffic patrol will arrive and your vehicle will be towed away, and you will have to run after it. Photography has become part of people’s lives all over the world. We are living in the era of documentation!
Most ordinary people carry phones that are linked to the Internet, so they are all possible documenters who document with photo and video all that takes place on streets, in offices, and everywhere. When you visit a country, go to a restaurant or are invited for an event, you document every landmark, scene or movement.
When you see a beautiful scene, instead of enjoying it and pondering into its creativity, you get preoccupied with its documentation, taking pictures from all angles. When a poem or narration is recited, all you worry about is recording it instead of hearing it. Even your facial expressions become exposed to recording. Imagination is now restricted as well as the freedom of the human being.
Your words are recorded, your opinions documented, your stands saved, so people’s freedom of expression has become limited. People are deprived of seclusion, as there is always a stalker who follows your movements and you do not know where they come from!
This documentation era will be the major cause of changing principles and philosophical theories the human intellect has adopted. There will not be any separation between sense and reason. There will be a total overlap of truth and imagination. Every human being will be moving around with a documentation tool. There will not be a lack of awareness, as the camera will pick all details that are not seen by the human eye, and we will be closer to link awareness with social existence.
Ibn Khaldun was the first to speak about this link in the Muqaddimah (Introduction) , and he was later contradicted by Karl Marx, who put the subject ahead of awareness. Ibn Khaldun also disagreed with German philosopher Georg Hegel, who followed the path of the philosophers who preceded him and made awareness ahead of subject, and today while we live the documentation era, we find that Ibn Khaldun’s theory is correct, with his accurate linkage between reality and awareness.
If documentation becomes more common, imagination will stop and the picture will restrict creativity that we knew as a free bird in limitless skies. We will be closer to the unity of existence and intellect, a unity no philosopher imagined other than Ibn Khaldun, as the subject does not precede awareness, nor awareness proceeds the subject, and tomorrow every human being will carry the documentation tool that blocks their imagination and constricts their imagination to the limits of the subject.
Where will we end? Will the human brain stop at the boundaries of images? And what will be the role of nonawareness, which is responsible for gathering hidden clips and translating them into cultural and artistic creativities? That responsibility that gave our life a meaning of beauty through literature and art. We are still at the beginning of the road and it is difficult to reach critical conclusions in this case, but what seems to be something simple for us such as a traffic violation today may turn us into a different type of human being who does not have imagination and does not benefit from nonawareness, as every human being now owns an eye and ear with which they see and hears all details, and they keep the creativity in nonawareness away from them. They have them in their mobile phones, as it is translated in seconds into stands, opinions and theories in front of the rest of humanity.
Tomorrow or the day after will be strange world, but all of us who are living today will not see it. Praise be to Allah!