The days of the Other are over in this age of excessive communication, information and consumption. What used to be the Other, be it as friend, as Eros or as hell, is now indistinguishable from the self in our narcissistic desire to assimilate everything and everyone until there are no boundaries left. The result is a 'terror of the Same', lives in which we no longer pursue knowledge, insight and experience but are instead reduced to the echo chambers and illusory encounters offered by social media. In extreme cases, this feeling of disorientation and senselessness is compensated through self-harm, or even harming others through acts of terrorism. ByungChul Han argues that our times are characterized not by external repression but by an internal depression, whereby the destructive pressure comes not from the Other but from the self. It is only by returning to a society of listeners and lovers, by acknowledging and desiring the Other, that we can seek to overcome the isolation and suffering caused by this crushing process of total assimilation.
Byung-Chul Han is a Korean-born Professor of Philosophy and Cultural Studies who teaches at the University of the Arts (UdK) in Berlin. He is the author of more than twenty books including The Scent of Time, Saving Beauty and The Burnout Society.