Posts Tagged ‘Michel de Certeau’

You Don’t Join A Nudist Colony To Socialize With Your Clothes On

February 20, 2012

Recent personal involvements motivated me to revisit a popular archival posting, Where Art Becomes Critical (4-26-2010). Many viewers access this entry through the search terms of a quote by Theodore Adorno utilized within the posted essay: “it is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home.”
This is a very disquieting statement regarding what it is to be moral. It is rather akin to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Both statement’s address complacency, though Adorno’s speaks more of the comfort of culture than MLK’s.
Though culture is formed by the everyday of the social (see Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life), it likewise permeates the everyday, especially the culture formed by previous generations. It can’t be shrugged off, though it does evolve. Maoist thinking believes that the privilege and entitlement of such prior overriding cultural influence can only be overthrown through drastic militancy. In this sense, Adorno’s outlook regarding morality is much more unsettling than MLK’s. Indeed, Rick Santorum is refusing to be silent about things that matter. And things do matter within culture.
Democracy and the inequity of domination by privilege and entitlement within the operations of a constituted democracy are at the heart of the many Occupy movements that have spread across the globe. Reports of the internal workings of these various unaffiliated movements recount an almost obsessive concern for an ethic that reproduces the sought for democracy and equality, the elimination of precedence accorded privilege and entitlement. Great lengths are taken to accommodate different outlooks, perspectives, demands, and to arrive at a group consensus before policies are determined, actions undertaken. This, of course, flies in the face of those with an agenda who prefer the short circuit provided by privilege and entitlement. Keeping the trains running on time is a priority for those who have a predetermined destination. But as de Certeau pointed out, the practice of everyday life doesn’t always follow the predetermined designs, plans, and machinations of professional educators, organizers and leaders. The worldwide Occupy movements have been quite unique in recognizing this exigency. This makes them very attractive for the dispossessed homeless. Pitching one’s tent there and then finding the group continuously disregarding consensus in favor of entitlement in order to maintain some undisclosed agenda (known only to the privileged few) would be like joining a nudist colony where some folks always get to keep their clothes on.