In one of his best-known books, Imagini si simboluri (Images and Symbols,) Mircea Eliade notes that people in general, including the most realistic, live from images, and much of everything that makes up their universe of known things is made up of these images. It is a reality that our mind is conditioned, and that it is in antithesis with the idea of a mind free from any determination, the latter representing a utopia, and not a real possibility. Jacques Le Goff, in his work The Medieval Imaginary, had drawn attention to the fact that “both human life and the life of societies are linked at the same time to images, but also to concrete realities. So you can't talk about thinking without an image. " The man delimits a "universe of security", in which he feels sheltered, and which he defends through fortress walls or magical defense systems, to use a formula of Mircea Eliade. On the other side is himself, the man, nestled in the "home", that is, in the place where there is good and harmony. Beyond is the unknown date of motivated fears, from which you expect evil, destruction, ugliness, disharmony. People who live abroad make up a compact category of "like" themselves, who recognize each other, who know what to expect from each other, who were together yesterday and will be tomorrow - they are the ones who have raised the walls of the fortress, they are the ones who defend them. They are called together - above any other name - "new", and they voluntarily distinguish themselves from others. And to get here, they have previously gone through the inescapable stage of C ollectively assuming the portraits / images of others. In other words, to penalize others through negative images, with the help of which they are identified.
The "stranger" is par excellence a negative character; it could not be otherwise, if he renounced his own data and took ours. Klaus Heitmann drew attention to a phenomenon: once a society / community has taken the step of identifying a "stranger", it will automatically take the second step, that of identifying him as an "enemy". Once identified as an "enemy", he instantly shows that he is evil, ugly and aggressive. If it wasn't him, we'd be better off - that's why we're mad at him.
The world has been built as (mental) archetypes - as René Girard insists in his books, especially in The Fall of Satan - on violence, on the insurance sacrifice of the status quo, which is an act of violence, on the founding ritual murder, which is an act of violence and he, in power, which is also an act of violence. The image of those who are not part of "us" and from whom we expect, in one way or another, aggressive acts, is a violent image. Imagology is the way in which people are included in the group of "ours", where they gain the feeling that they are defending themselves, once they know who the others are. "We" is an extremely fruitful and fundamentally violent notion, through which man is induced as center and measure. Center, because the world begins, all around, beyond the boundaries set for "us"; measure, because all the criteria according to which the world is judged and evaluated start from the models established by "us".
It is about the idea of "representation" - "representation of the world", as Arthur Schopenhauer called it, in The World as Will and Representation, an author completely ignored by today's imaging analysts, including Émil Durkheim, who the concept of "collective representation", understood as the fruit of collective thinking.
It is about the idea of "representation" - "representation of the world", as Arthur Schopenhauer told him, in The World as Will and Representation, an author completely ignored by today's imaging analysts, including Émil Durkheim, who introduced the concept of "collective representation", understood as the fruit of collective thinking.
We are dealing with an ineffable and subtle phenomenon, perceived, indistinguishable. Serge Moscovici, in his work The Phenomenon of Social Representations, did not shy away from acknowledging the stalemate in the research: “As for the laws of collective thinking, they are completely unknown. Social psychology, whose task is to define them, is nothing but a word that describes all sorts of vague generalizations, without any clear object to lean on. "The image is the most edifying form of what is meant by subjective knowledge. A knowledge according to the particularities of the subject, of his prejudices, of his stereotypes. A knowledge sui generis. A knowledge about which there is no question of correctness or incorrectness, because the images are the result of a report, so they are correct only in relation to the consequences of that report. (...)
Man has always built (sometimes, instead of "built", the more appropriate term would be "demolished") imagologically. In such a position, however, the man did prose without knowing it, like Molière's Monsieur Jourdain. It was not until 1985 that someone drew attention to this mechanism so common, so usual, that it is simply not given attention. The "revelation" took place at the 16th International Congress of Historical Sciences in Stuttgart that year, when French researcher Héléne Ahrweiller presented a paper on "the image of the other." Practically, since then, imagology has become a distinct way of study and an independent social discipline. The researcher in question only identifies, at that moment, the fact that there was a certain gate that was simply not highlighted until then, which she half-opened. Subsequently, research has led to a much more comprehensive content, so that today it is recognized that there is a very important part of our mind, consisting of images automatically assumed by all "ours", images that are a "common good" that does not has been subjected to no censorship or analysis, and which includes not only the image of the other, but also the images of institutions, human relations, religion and beliefs, etc. Among "ours", the image is the "password", the "sign of recognition" that people exchange with each other to confirm their affiliation.
Today, it is commonplace to highlight that mechanism that states that "individuals need to compare themselves with others in order to evaluate themselves." To evaluate, obviously, with the a priori purpose constituted to highlight the axiom of the superiority of "our" in relation to the others.
Jean Piaget observes that "as the representations progress, the distances between them and their object increase." Indeed, as we amplify and exacerbate the details of the other's image, we amplify, as a consequence, the positive details of our self-image (and this is itself an object of study of imagology).
The image (imagological perception) is a myth without a story, which is presented as a conclusion, as a verdict, as a maxim. It is basically an exercise in stereotype and prejudice, which, however, displays itself in an aura of security: the images claim self-sufficiency, an immutability due to the fact that God is the one who thus settled things.
In his work Imagologia literara comparata, (Comparative Literary Imagology) Gheorghe Lascu makes the following clarifications: “A constant is still the starting point: the notion of“ image ”, which must be taken in a figurative sense, and not of a real, photographic image of foreign reality. The "imagological" image is a concentrated, simplifying representation, made in the form of a cliché, of a stereotype. We are, from this point of view, in the field of psychology, where imago is a representation, a mental construction. Let us note in passing that for the study of real images, in accordance with reality, meant to help in diagnosis and treatment, medicine uses the term "imaging". Imagology operates with collective, socialized representations that betray a collective mentality and that are considered representative for that community. "
Apart from an imagology, let's say, in general, in the applied research, it was imposed as a separate branch and the historical imagology, with a field of applicability and distinct reference material, even if the methodology remains fundamentally the same. In the work Imagology. Historical Imagology, the authors, Ion Chiciudean and Bogdan-Alexandru Halic, define it as follows: “Historical Imagology studies the images that were created and functioned in certain historical epochs. It analyzes the design, formation, crystallization and sedimentation of the other's image and self-images, as well as of deliberately induced images, following certain models of strategies, based on historical sources. The images constituted on the basis of historical sources have their own features and characteristics that individualize them: they bear the imprint of the horizon of interpretation of the epoch, of the subjectivism and of the interests through which the events are perceived and filtered; they are strongly influenced by the dominant mentalities of the time.
This paper addresses the issue of historical imagology. What did I choose for this study? This book stops at a few images, whose formation mechanism we reconstructed ("found", as we preferred to appear in the title), emphasizing the role of the political factor, which successively fed the image, bringing new hues, in step with new events or with new stages in the consolidation of certain states.
For a start, we discussed the image that the Egyptian had created of the foreigner, a profoundly negative image, which, of course, can be found convincing historical motivations, due to two lines of events caused by: the occupation of about two hundred years of Egypt by the Hyksos and then the repeated destructive attacks of the "peoples of the sea." In the Hellenistic era, the Egyptian's fear of foreigners is replaced by another mentality, closer to tolerance.
Then we stopped at the image that the Greek built about the barbarian, in essence: the foreigner. The notion of barbarian is an ethnic one, designating the Negro in general, but it also becomes a moral, characterological one, aiming at a certain degree of civilization or a certain philosophy of life. Cultivating in his negative foundation the image of the barbarian was a stimulus for the formation and consolidation of the strong Greek nationalism, creator of a pan-Greek mood, thanks to which the military and political epic of Alexander the Great could be realized.
Egypt and Egyptians were well-known landmarks to the "whole world," which, though not always pleasing to the Egyptians, often worshiped a certain mystery they represented. I followed the coughs of the Egyptian's image, suggesting a certain chronology, on the Jewish-Greek-Roman route. The observation that is required is that the image of the Egyptian on the mentioned route is not necessarily unitary, if we refer on the one hand to the priorities of the Jew, and on the other hand, to those of the Greco-Roman world, not itself totally unitary.
The situation is completely different, if we consider the conclusions of the third theme, namely the image of the Jew as it was perceived by the Egyptians, Greeks or Romans. The image of the Jew was constant and unitary negative. A certain cultural conjuncture, on which we dwelled extensively, meant that, in turn, the Greeks and then the Romanians benefited from the image of the Jew that reached them, to which they only added new coughs.
In the penultimate study we approached the image of the Jew as it appears in Christians. This image took over all previous accumulations, but radicalized through new contributions, first of all through the cough aimed at the accusation of deicide brought to the Jewish people. Of course, this paper did not aim to reconstruct a history of the "founding myths of anti-Semitism", as Carol Iancu puts it (by the very title of her famous work), just as she did not propose any monographs about barbarians or Egyptians.
Finally, in the last topic, we tried to reconstruct the image of the Greek - of special stability, so that we find it practically unaltered in its main lines for a period that goes far beyond a millennium. I identified the beginning of the imagological process looking at the Greeks at the end of the Republic, during the Principality of Augustus, when another type of image of the "other" and, by ricochet, of self-image of the novel, was necessary, from a political point of view to be brought to the fore. The poet Virgil was the craftsman of this process, and he came up with the theory of the Trojan origin of the Romans, a theory that naturally acquired anti-Greek connotations, once the identified ancestors of the Romans were the victims of the Greeks. Then was made the "baggage" with defects of the Greek, in which dominates the perfidy, proved by the idea of the Trian Horse, an unworthy, deceptive means, by which the defeat of the Trojans was obtained. The second negative layer of the Greek comes from the confrontation with Christianity, when Hellenism appeared as the main opponent of Christianity, so that the latter resorted to the identification of "pagan = Greek". Finally, the study highlights the fact that the features of the negative image of Greek work until late, in the late Middle Ages, when we find them asserted by the Catholic West, against the background of the Crusades. Our trip only partially considered the evolution of the respective topics, because the interest was focused on the mechanism of their formation, a mechanism that we identified to be related to the political one.