Where Now the Situationists?

What is the trouble with ‘going automatically- straight to, the -‘default’ idea; you have to wonder where the default set of ideas- the intellectual ‘canon’ has come from’. Has it been genuinely arrived at- or worked upon: who or what forces form it or are pushing it? Is it the infamous ‘capitalists’ of Robin Hood fame: or is there an intellectual hegemony somewhere attempting to ‘control large parts of the cultural experience’. What is its cultural location. Is it religious? As with the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages? Is it the Neo-Cons of America? (And who controls them?)  Why has the so called ‘Christian Right’ got the same agenda in regard to and as the Israeli government? Is the entire world run by the Zionista? And art too? After all Reuters and API the largest news services in the global world are both said to be Jewish owned. This could be innocent or is it a hegemony of ideas, intellectual discourses and cultural control? (MacDonald: 1993)

I caught on to this on reading Homi K.BhaBha. Romping through the canonised register of allowable words. Where the references, in so new a name, to the same old same old – I almost fell about the floor laughing when I saw them. It appeared so quaint- almost charming. Uncle Tom an’ all doffing his miserable colonial cap to his elite liberal marxist-feminist critical theory ‘betters’. Like Eric Hobsbawm. So tragic, and far, far from the affect intended. I knew then that the post-modern project just had absolutely to be over. New as I was. New as I was I saw it had become its own worst joke. Late in the reading yet a lifetime of wide reading behind me- not at all hypnotised by its small minded narrow little vision; tiny and squeaking like some eradicble tinsy wee mouse. What a shrunken warped and minor world it saw. Almost a parody of itself just in being itself; pure invisible bullshit piled upon pure thin bullshit- having absolutely no meaning whatsoever. Constipated tight small balls of dried over dust- only impressive if bundled together and difficult of passage. A daft idea badly done.

My Overall Rubric- As defined by Research

That it is not Capitalism versus Communism: but it is a Capitalist/Communist system fielded as a combined project by the Zionista Bankstas. Both their monopolistic behaviours and their bigness (accumulation of either power or money) plus control of a global central bank over the issue of currency fits them both equally well to lie in the exact same bed together. If you know that you can then see exactly how the world is run; without that you can be led and bled anyway and anyhow by any smelly nose they choose. You will never ever know what to do or think.

Besides, having got that right one is saved by the accumulated centuries from reading all those daft and impossible books from the right that assume the Marxists are the enemy: and all those hundreds of thousands of books that assume the ‘enemy’ responsible for their conspiracy theory are the capitalists. For if it is indeed a combined capitalist/communist system it readily explains so many things – all those aberrant elements; like American pilots over Vietnam seeing Ford trucks on the Ho Chi Minh trail (they were built by the Ford factory in Gorky Russia) and the fact that Jew-ish American capitalists pulled strings to ease Lenins way- in a special sealed train no less- and put up the money to finance the Russian Revolution (Prof Sutton)

So it is with catching up in art theory so late. After a lifetime in art keeping you guys as love in my heart. I want to breathe freedom of knowledge into all lives. Even Jew-ish ones; for they need to see how their own system breeds their enemies.  I can see how wrongly applied art theory has the potential to harm us all greatly. As one of the favourite politically correct movements in art theory has led to an extreme fascist result. Highly damaging to the well-being of everyone including the very people who cause it. Like Stalin’s ‘friends’ who all met their end at his hand. The situationists  agit prop activity for instance were partly funded by a Jewish oil exploration company in France (they funded the situationist film ‘Encephele’) and one could grant freely that their street posters enhanced the intellectual and cultural status  of the subsequent twelve week occupation of the Paris Sorbonne. Lest you think I am ‘dinning’ just the Jew-ish set here by straining for my facts; there is exactly another incident involving a Jew-ish oiI exploration company- a different American one; that funded Robert Smithson and many ‘earth artists’ and Rosalind Krauss herself (October magazine; Columbia University) through the DIA art foundation, – in order to sequester long term land reserves at very inexpensive tax break rates- like $25 per year for a huge tract of land on Smithsons famous spiral jetty site; a famous (greenpeace – like) symbol of many ”earth” concerns- while actually being a site with oil seepage, such as is typical near potential oil fields. Talk about conflict of interest.


The Sorbonne University and surroundings existed as a kind of miniature ‘student led state’ outside of Government political control. However this enhanced intellectual status via the ‘critical theory’ of the day leads directly to the kind of revolutionary ‘teach-ins’ attended by Pol Pots  economic minister in his Paris student days also at this time (Pol Pot too was there too but possibly not attending the Sorbonne himself), who indeed took part in Marxist theory classes run by the student revolutionary council. Theory therefore in the hands of artists can lead to mass murder on the killing fields of Asia. For Pol Pots friend did learn under the situationist friendly revolutionary council about the new agrarian economics put into practice directly by Pol Pot and his former student cadres. With deadly, concentration camp like efficiency.

Since these theories dismally failed, like all Marxist theories on the literal ground of peasant experience. These foreign city intellectuals thought how to better manage the land than thousands of years of peoples actual experience had proven. This arrogance is highlighted when the very people who now promote this nonsense would themselves be killed by it; as one of the ‘tests’ of revolutionary fittingness was whether or not you had callouses on your hands.The political murders in Cambodia  inspired by the political theories of the situationists led to the deaths of an entire quarter of Cambodia’s population. The highest proportion of national  slaughter in human history. University Professors, Doctors, Teachers were murdered by the thousands. The favourite method was by plastic bag tied around a suffocating victims neck as it saved the cost of a bullet. Of course these agrarian experiments on the ground failed as a result of applying the situationists, Sorbonne-University ‘critical theory’, to the entire modern City of Phnom Penh. Virtually the whole City was put to death in 1975-1979. Khymer Rouge is so named where ‘rouge’ means red; and khymer is ancient name for Cambodians. Thus the Cambodian Red Army.

By 1975, the population was 2-3 million, the bulk of whom were refugees from the fighting. Pol Pots Marxist revolutionary army the Khmer Rouge cut off supplies to the city for more than a year before it fell on April 17, 1975. Reports from journalists stated that the Khmer Rouge shelling “tortured the capital almost continuously,” inflicting “random death and mutilation” on millions of trapped civilians. The Khmer Rouge forcibly evacuated the entire city after taking it, in what has been described as a death march: Francois Ponchaud wrote that “I shall never forget one cripple who had neither hands nor feet, writhing along the ground like a severed worm, or a weeping father carrying his ten-year old daughter wrapped in a sheet tied around his neck like a sling, or the man with his foot dangling at the end of a leg to which it was attached by nothing but skin”; John Swain recalled that the Khmer Rouge were “tipping out patients from the hospitals like garbage into the streets….In five years of war, this is the greatest caravan of human misery I have seen.” All of its residents, including those who were wealthy and educated, were evacuated from the city and forced to do labour on rural farms as “new people”. Tuol Sleng High School was taken over by Pol Pot’s forces and was turned into the S-21 prison camp, where people were detained and tortured. Pol Pot sought a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed many people perceived as educated, “lazy”, or political enemies. Many others starved to death as a result of failure of the agrarian society and the sale of Cambodia’s rice to China in exchange for bullets and weaponry. The former high school is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where Khmer Rouge torture devices and photos of their victims are displayed. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields), 15 kilometers (9 mi) away, where the Khmer Rouge marched prisoners from Tuol Sleng to be murdered and buried in shallow pits, is also now a memorial to those who were killed by the regime.

The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979.

Applied Marxist art theory is almost an oxymoron unless it is tragically true. And that is true as above. Truth is true, because it works; consider ‘the map’  if the map is more difficult than experiencing the terrain (the primacy of phenomenology) then the map is useless, a hindrance to reality (reality too is prime: the new materialism). The job of the intellectual is to create clear maps of the intellectual terrain. Anything else is a waste of your time and mine.

Not that I buy the American Empires story so freely either. Bombing Iraq from a kilometre above, safe from any missile they knew they did not have, for a death toll over ten years of one million is as cowardly an act as America herself deserves. Every man is a liar where his advantages are concerned. Lies are a good cover for inconvenient political facts.

Post-modernism now approaches its own war on facts where the state of scholasticism is as a typically fund sucking university waste: the type of University intellectual endeavour free of all need of proofs; so useless that one thinks it free of harm as well. Therefore thought safe to leave alone. For the sake of an indulgent ‘free inquiry. ‘The above suggests otherwise than that indulgence is innocent. The pen of academia is as mighty as any cowardly sword. The welter of words without opposition, the one-sidedness of the debate; no feminist theory with its opposing masculist theory, no marxist theory stated on the same page as its austrian counterpart; not that I am capitalist either- I believe in Friedmanism for-the-workers, ie tax breaks for any cost the working man encounters for work including showers, food, travel, clothes, petrol, shoes and so on- trickle down for the worker- I have been a working man. Any cost at all-related to work, tax free. The first twenty or so thousand tax free. The tax breaks to be added one to another.

The requirements of truth and proof nails things down to a smaller subset of values than that which is being mapped: hence masculist theoretical categories are more efficient: we can tell where we are going culturally while still keeping all our reality checking alive.

Post modern ‘open-ended-ness completely fails to do that: unless it is by Jew-ish design that we do become national, and not, yet yes, notionally- confused as to where European Ethnic consciousness is going ideologically. What Jew-ish non-Hebrew, zionista in their intellectual guise recommend to the cultures they inhabit is far far different than what is being recommended or practised in Israel itself. Nationalism is bad for outsiders (Zionists fear the rise of another Hitler: yet their own racist state apartheid is extremely nationalistic and this double standard in almost all cases goes unremarked thus building up the pressure that will inevitably render to history another Hitlerian situation) . Thus they breed themselves by such cultural interferences the very thing they fear. ‘How many gay marxist french zionista can dance on the pointes of their pining pins to evade this responsibility and distraction. There is no other issue more pressing for artists to express politically.  To that very end of our confusion. A focus on the spectacle of seductive sexualities blinds us to a much more important oversight and prejudicial discrimination: that of the indigeneity and moiety of race, or, at least, a wider race definition as cultural harbinger and container.

The indigenous ethnicity of Europe established NATIONS. As Israel is a Zionist nation. Zion is not European. Though Jew-ish persons now require the German government to yield up the internal region of Thuringia as an autonomous Jew-ish state. Has the second world war taught them nothing? My grandfather was too a prisoner in that period, his comrades died from typhoid while his own body weight plummeted to five stone (around 40 Kg; where normally 85Kg or so ) at great and deadly risk to himself.  His death was so very near all the time. Was it so elsewhere in the final ten months of retreat for battered German forces? The low priority to feed prisoners- leading to many deaths? My grandfathers situation puts a pause on such issues for me.  No doubt many did suffer outright. Yet I must resist Israels propaganda where the current state depends on such a myth anyway for its economic survival.  So how much does the story fall from the sky and how much is pushed? That is the question. How ironic has Israel configured itself.  Forming itself into a giant Warsaw ghetto, surrounded by forty foot high walls like any tyrant: unwelcome in any neighbourhood.  Surrounding villages of non-Jewish descent with high concentration camp like walls. The political symbolism dripping with non-Jew-ish blood. Surely an investment in friendliness is better than phosphorous bombs upon the heads of little children. No home made Hamas rocket has killed a single Israeli as far as I know; while Israeli forces have murdered thousands of defenceless peoples in a thousand to one kill ratio. Making Israel and its intellectual apologists guilty of one of the greatest war crimes in its history. It would be vastly less expensive to grant recognition and aid, and hand over the enormous gas field off the coast of Gaza (this is what it is all really about) to the legitimate Hamas government of an independent Palestinian state. Where is the reader on this ? With the Zion-fascists?

Europe s people are a non-Zionist tribe of nations: seriously captured and enslaved to zionist agendas; devolution therefore is the way of the future out of this trap. I believe in limited government; as big ones go to war. And enhanced local accountability; all debts from the past to be paid only by those who most benefited from them.  So that ‘National’ party investors who profiteer from their reign should pay the full investment bill exclusively themselves. Not as a burden on future taxpayers. It is their party. Therefore their debt.

The zionista gallo-centricism, of our collective confusion,  as a leftist Chomsky points out, is amazing. The last colonial power lecturing us all on colonialism, how hypocritical is that? France has a failed nation filled with colonial fundamentalists keeping alive the liberalism that kills them and murders their entire cultural, economic and liberal future. No wonder the new right grows daily in the French youth and in angry power. As Peugeot relocates to Romania? their doom of France as any sort of Nation is writ Escritoire largess. That will be all of my bad French. A lot of bad thinking has been put to book: the folly of an entertaining set-up of conceits. Driven literally by the sludge of the sewer of thought. All intellectual thought- if checked off over against what Israel policy would, could or does do in such situations- would see the manifest destiny of such intellectual pretensions collapse like the waters drowning the Egyptians in Moses day.

The bad odour of suspect relations. Done out so by anyone else as normative would be considered unprofessional abuse of power over students and affairs that conflict with an objective judgement. A highly plagiarized clique regurgitating their own retching.  Allowing fashion to dictate intellectual pretensions means that decadent bourgeois standards make academia intelligentsia itself suspect as a source of authored knowledge: or is it all just party time up at Critique University. A dominant matriarchal discourse drowning up its own smelly Marxist creek. When one reads the originals, no references: meaning to write freely as ‘first’ expects citation to live. But to cite announces ones lack of originality. Therefore citation is a gate-keeping and territorial activity. To BE a professor – just ‘profess’ openly and freely. Ignore the perverted bastards, they are just full of campy crap anyway.

Well, does one feel any nostalgia now for the coolness and heat of this moment in intellectual history? The impending collapse of Zionist illusions. Yes and no. It was fascinating to be–as Finkelstein might say, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”–to be around in these days, but at the same time I think it’s rather advantageous for us too to be still “out of theory.” That is to say we still have free views. We still have to recognize that what we think derives from this or that understanding of other theories and these or those wider theoretical principles. Our theories too need to be broad in scope and more inclusive of various theoretical viewpoints lest we make an arrogant intellectual mistake like the war criminal Pol Pot. We have to understand the way in which what we do and say, what we write in our papers and articles, is grounded in freely chosen different theoretical premises which, if we don’t come to terms with them, we will simply naively reproduce marxism without being fully aware of how we’re using it and how, indeed, some theory is using us.

So it is as crucial as ever to understand all theory. It is now eighteen months on my own late journey upon the theoretical path, not realizing that it was from within the dear ‘bosom’ of our dearly beloved art that Political Correctness had lodged its most deadly barbs. I just look at the pictures: aesthetics is as ornithology to the birds, a non-event? How wrong I was. Theory determines our consciousness, as Professor Fry here outlines. Well then, let us tackle Yale University and see if it stacks up.

Now in addition to redefining art as politics, critical theory also asks questions obviously not unrelated but which opens up the field to other disciplines. What causes visual art and what are the effects of culture? Yes, what causes cultural criticism, the personal lambasting in book prefaces of other writers began the emotional embroilments in some early critical literature. Truly the personal is very political.  So it takes political courage to write into the art history of ones time the late notes of an overlooked consciousness and experience.  In a way, there’s a subset of questions that arises from those, and as to causes these are, of course, what we’ll be taking up next time: the question “What is an author?”  An author or creator is the sum total of his intended, intending intentions and their intense , tender, intendedness. That is to say, if something causes literature, there must be some sort of authority behind it and therefore we find ourselves asking, “What is an author?” The author is the authority he needs no reasons. His reasons are his. His authority is his naturally because he is a man. No other authorial authority is needed. A man is a man for all of that. The same or similar goes for artists. This is why we cite texts and their authors and list them in directories accordingly.

By the same token, if culture has effects, it must have effects on someone, and this gives rise to the equally interesting and vexing question, “What is a reader?” Everything affects and effects its effects affectionately in someone or in a range of someones: viewers, readers, patrons, collectors and so on. Literary theory is very much involved with questions of that kind, and organizing those questions is basically what rationalizes the structure of our discourses. What it does not ask is what is a theory- it does not question itself. Theories do not exist- they are thought. Readers exist as physical, statistical persons in a direct observable relationship with text. The text, is always in some sense physically measurable; it exists; no text exists without some form of sensible existence. thought can exist alone as a series of synaptic responses; texts are different as they record. Synaptic bursts pass until captured; they are fleeting. You’ll notice that we move in the writings–after a couple of introductory talks that I’ll mention in a minute–we move from the idea that literature is in some sense caused by language to the idea that literature is in some sense caused by the human psyche, to the idea that literature is in some sense caused by social, economic, and historical forces. One could as un-usefully say; in some sense economic, in some sense historical, in some sense anything you like. And, beguilingly, by the unilateral creative impulses of authors and painter-creators. There are corollaries for those ideas in terms of the kinds of effects that art has and what we might imagine ourselves to conclude in some sense from them. Fry here goes overboard with ‘some sense': to the extent it becomes utterly meaningless; in this Yale University sense ‘some sense’ can mean, or involve anything you like- anything at all. It is of course completely naive.

 Finally, art theory asks one other important question–it asks many, but this is the way at least I’m organizing it for today–it asks one other important question, the one with which we will actually begin: not so much “What is an art viewerr?” but “How does seeing art get done?” Why do not art buyers go paint their own pictures, commission truckloads of their own collections (such as Saatchi does) How do we meet the creator face-to-face? How do we put ourselves in touch with the artwork which may after all in a variety of ways be remote from us? In other words the interpretation of paintings and cultural objects. The real job of intelligent pictorial criticism.

These are the questions that are asked by what’s called hermeneutics, a difficult word that we will be taking up shortly. It has to do with the god Hermes who is said to have conveyed the languages requiring interpretation to man, who was in a certain sense, among many other functions, the god of cultural communication, and hermeneutics is, after all, obviously about plain communication, obtaining some accurate version of a rough truth: a better ‘map’ in short.. So hermeneutics will be our first topic, and it attempts to answer the last problem that I’ve mentioned which is raised by theory of culture. All right. Now let me pause quickly over the word introduction. I first started teaching this course in the late 1970s and 80s when critical theory was a thing absolutely of the moment. Now after thirty years the parameters are beginning to pall. As I told the my student fellows, I had a colleague in those days who looked at me enviously and said he wished he had the black leather concession at the door. Now it is not so popular intellectually, we are looking for a way out of the sheer excess of information. The theory needs its own map.

Theory was both hot and cool, and it was something about which, following from that, one had not just opinions but very, very strong opinions. In other words, the teaching fellows I had in those days–who knows? They may rise up against me in the same way this semester–but the teaching fellows I had in those days said, “You can’t teach an introduction. You can’t teach a survey. You can’t say, ‘If it’s Tuesday, it must be Foucault. If it’s Thursday, it must be Lacan.’ You can’t approach theory that way. Theory is important and it’s important to know what you believe,” in other words, what the basis of all other possible theory is.”I am a feminist. I’m a Lacanian. I am a student of Paul de Man. A small tight paradigmatic ‘canon’ temporarily fashionable. Why not Ivan Illyich, Chomsky, Finkelstein, MacDonald, De Soto, or many others.  I believe that these are the foundational moments of theorizing and that if you’re going to understand anything like a survey, you’ve got to derive the rest of it from whatever the moment I happen to subscribe to might be.” Yet the world has obviously thousands of theories: so why limit these largely  to gallo-centric ones? The prevailing theories weigh heavily on the Eurocentric side. And the logocentric; in visual arts let us hear from the artists ‘with callouses on their hands’, take off the Pol Potian plastic bags of suffocatingly limited ‘theory’ (contrarily; in ‘some sense’, theory means touring around the whole entire vista of ideas; everything ever thought said or done that has led to men thinking, talking or writing texts, painting pictures as their way of thinking; writing ‘texts’ is just one way to record thoughts, ideas, concepts – many ideas can be recorded by many methods; marxist-feminist is just one of histories many many methods of registering our collective thoughts). New Zealand for instance is around thirty percent Polynesian, so Polynesian  theories of art should run wild amoung us as richly as any; and state funded scholars should enlarge these to engage theoretically with the larger culture: this is a first rate top notch cultural contribution. To bring Polynesian insight fully into the critical, political and theoretical mainstream just as Polynesian tattoo design in body adornment has in visual art.


Aotearoa is also heading for thirty percent Asian consciousness very quickly. So really we are obliged to inhabit our art schools with fresh young Asian art scholars: hot off the jet-stream.

In addition, we have the vantage point of, I suppose, what we can now call herstory/history. Some of what we’ll be studying is no longer practised as that which is the absolutely necessary central path to methodology. Some of what we’re studying has had its moment of flourishing, has remained influential as a paradigm that shapes other paradigms, but is not itself, perhaps, today the sole paradigm–which gives us the opportunity of historical perspective, so that from time to time during the passage of the course, we can be trying to say something about why certain theoretical issues and ideas pushed themselves (or were pushed onto us by media, hegemony, controlling cultural forces) into prominence at certain historical moments, and that too then can become part of our enterprise. So an introduction is not only valuable for those of us who simply wish to acquire knowledge. It’s also valuable, I think, in lending an additional perspective to the topic of theory and to an understanding about how theory is, on the one hand and perhaps in a certain sense, now an historical topic and is, on the other hand, something that we’re very much engaged in and still committed to: so all that then by way of rationale for teaching an introduction to theory.


All right. Now the question, “How does visual art theory relate to the history of art criticism?” Why does Robert hughes say the things he does. We must look at what actual known art critics say. Theory without examples is empty- particularly at an art school. That is a course that I like to study, too; usually I teach Plato to T.S. Eliot or Plato to I.A. Richards or some other important figure in the early twentieth century. It’s a course which is absolutely fascinating in all sorts of ways, and it has one very important thing in common with literary theory: that is to say, literary criticism is, too, perpetually concerned with the definition of literature. Many of the issues that I raised in talking about defining literature are as relevant for literary criticism as they are for literary theory, and yet we all instinctively know that these are two very different enterprises. Literary theory loses something that literary criticism just takes for granted. Literary theory is not concerned with issues of evaluation, and it’s not really concerned with concomitant issues of appreciation. Literary theory just takes those for granted as part of the sense experience, as one might say, of any reader and prefers, rather, to dwell on questions of description, analysis and speculation, as I’ve said.

So that’s what’s lost in theory, but what’s new in theory? Here I come to the topic which will occupy most of my attention for the remainder of the lecture. What’s new in theory is the element of scepticism that literary criticism by and large–which is usually affirming a canon of some sort–doesn’t reflect. Literary theory, as I say, is sceptical about the foundations of its subject matter and also, in many cases, about the foundations of what it itself is doing. So the question is: how on earth did this come about? It’s an historical question, as I say, and I want to devote the rest of the lecture to it. Why should doubt about the veridical or truth-affirming possibilities of interpretation be so widespread in the twentieth century?Now here is a big glop of intellectual history. I think the sort of skepticism I mean arises from what one might call and what often is called modernity–not to be confused with Modernism, an early twentieth-century phenomenon, but the history of modern thought as it usually derives from the generation of Descartes, Shakespeare, and Cervantes. Notice something about all of those figures: Shakespeare is preoccupied with figures who may or may not be crazy. Cervantes is preoccupied with a figure who is crazy–we’re pretty sure of that, but he certainly isn’t. He takes it for granted that he is the most rational and systematic of all thinkers and raises questions about–since we all take ourselves to be rational too–raises questions about just how we know ourselves not to be paranoid delusive’s like Don Quixote. So that can be unsettling when we think of this as happening at a certain contemporaneous moment in the history of thought.


Now Descartes, you remember, in his Meditations begins by asking a series of questions about how we can know anything, and one of the skeptical questions he asks is, “Well, might I not be crazy?” In other words, Descartes is still thinking along these same lines. He says, “Well, maybe I’ve been seized by an evil genius of some kind or maybe I’m just crazy.” Now why–and here is the question–why do we get this nervousness about the relationship between what I know and how I know it arising at this moment? Well, I think it’s characterized at least in part by what Descartes goes on to say in his Meditations. Descartes settles the matter–perhaps somewhat sweeping the question of whether he is crazy under the rug because I’m still not sure he answers that question–but he settles the matter famously by saying, “I think. Therefore, I am,” and furthermore, as a concomitant, “I think, therefore, all the things that I’m thinking about can be understood to exist as well.” This is an on-the-fly recourse to a theory of God or overarching existing and invisible things like abstraction. Something each man solves for himself, to his own satisfaction. In life are the answers give, those who seek, shall find.

Now the Cartesian Revolution establishes something that is absolutely crucial for what we call the Enlightenment of the next hundred, hundred and fifty years–in other words, the idea that there is a distance between the mind and the things that it thinks about, but that this distance is a good thing. In other words, if you look too closely at a picture or if you stand too far away from it you don’t see it clearly–it’s out of focus–but if you achieve just the right distance from it, it comes into focus. Seeing the forest of overall effects instead of the trees of too much detail.  A necessary compromise with reality and the brevity of life. The idea of scientific objectivity, the idea that motivates the creation of the great Encyclopedia by the figures of the French Enlightenment–this idea all arises out of the idea that there is a certain appropriate objective distance between the perceiver and the perceived.  A certain scale of relationship between the map and the terrain; often reversed catastrophically within Post-modern theory. Twisted and contorted so the efficiency of the theory is comprimised. As when the terrain is easier to actually traverse unaided than mentally traversing the map or concept. In which case the existentialist and phenomenology wins: real experience is better than wanky thoughts. Gradually, however, the idea that this distance is not too great begins to erode so that in 1796 Kant, who isn’t exactly enlisted on the side of the skeptics by most of his serious students, nevertheless does say something equally famous as that which Descartes said and a good deal more disturbing: “We cannot know the thing in itself.” But a direct grasp of it is better and preferable if that is so. Or, why didn’t Dante just make love to Beatrice.

Phillip O’Sullivan ( Version One)

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