“…but distraction often uncovers a surprising array of thoughts and feelings, epiphanies and meanings. Distraction may act as a productive model for recognizing all that surrounds the primary event of sound—to suddenly hear what is usually out of earshot. It allows or nurtures the ability for one to appreciate the sounding environment in all its dimensional complexity. Distraction may in the end function as means for undoing the lines of scripted space, loosening our sense for performing within a given structure, and according to certain expectations; to exceed or to fall short of the assumed goal. To be distracted is potentially to be more human.”
Existence simulates, it dissimulates, and it dissimulates the fact that even when it is dissimulating and playing a role, it continues to be authentic existence, and thus with an almost inextricable malice, binds the simulacrum to true authenticity.
Blanchot, M. (1965), The Laughter of the Gods. In Blanchot, M. (1997), Friendship. Trans. Rottenberg, E. Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press. p.179.
Just throwing out a couple more quotes taken from “The Love of Art” by Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Darbell,* first published in France in 1969. This book is essentially a report and analysis of a series of public surveys conducted at museums around Europe with the aim of understanding the audience for those institutions and addressing the perceived need to expand their reach amongst the population. The book is arguing against an assumption of innate or “natural” cultural sensitivity which can somehow be “activated,” pointing to the role of the social environment in which we grow up and length of our education in the formation of cultural receptivity which needs an equivalent input later on in life if the individual is to be acculturated (as it were). Needless to say, “class” gets heavily implicated in the receptivity (or not) of cultural material.
I mentioned in a comment over at HomeShop’s blog, that I had fortuitously picked up a copy of Slavoy Žižek’s Violence last night. I only had time to read the Introduction (“THE TYRANT’S BLOODY ROBE”), but the ideas outlined there seemed apposite to the last part of my article on Gentrification on the blog, displaying in themselves strong links to Agamben’s thought. The following are selected quotes, pulling out the parts which relate to my own interests (and undoubtedly doing great violence to Žižek’s overall meaning in the process):
“… we should learn to step back, to disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence, violence performed by a dearly identifiable agent. We need to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts. A step back enables us to identify a violence that sustains our very efforts to fight violence and to promote tolerance.
“This is not a description which locates its content in a historical space and time, but a description which creates, as the background of the phenomena it describes, an inexistent (virtual) space of its own, so that what appears in it is not an appearance sustained by the depth of reality behind it, but a decontextualised appearance, an appearance which fully coincides with real being.
“Does this recourse to artistic description imply that we are in danger of regressing to a contemplative attitude that somehow betrays the urgency to ‘do something’ about the depicted horrors?
“There are situations when the only truly ‘practical’ thing to do is to resist the temptation to engage immediately and to ‘wait and see’ by means of a patient, critical analysis.”