There is a new quality of idiocy today. While the old idiot derived knowledge from isolation, the new idiot refuses all understanding of the world. A figure of systematic incompetence, the new idiot is impacting global culture and politics alike, giving rise to surprising, often absurd competences. Yesterday’s “fake news” or “post-truths” can be read today as evidence of an ongoing transformation of self-politics in which the idiotic impulse is redefining our experience of the world. Despite talk of global awareness, the isolated self of the many is all the more effective. It brings about a culture of happy singletons strolling towards a black hole that has become their substitute for society.
Zoran Terzic’s wide-ranging essay takes up the figure of the idiot and follows its numerous appearances throughout intellectual history in an examination of the “art of the idiotic” that both reflects and transcends the freneticism of the present.