Shane Reiner-Roth

Aside #3

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Excerpt from the book ((P(ass)ive)(ociations)) :

All of contemporary life’s efforts seem to dwindle down to what it alone finds essential: the pragmatic, or practical. Beauty appears as a valid practice if it has, at some point, a commodifiable purpose. Apparently, beauty today needs a purpose, let alone a profitable one. Beauty, the purest of acts, the most natural of instances, suddenly needs a purpose.

Theory, much like beauty, does not have a ‘reason’ for being. But while a true beauty is finalized and perfected, a true theory is never completed. As it ages, it is continuously speculated: soon to be hampered by synthesis and other aggregates. Throughout the process of theoretical discourse, there is no such thing as being satisfied (If you are an architect that has never built anything due to a refusal to compromise your theory, then congratulations. If you are an architect that has somehow been able to build without compromising, then I suggest you constantly question the outcome). There is only, as a technicality, a last page to a book on theory.

Pragmatism, as the economy’s sole stimulator, imposes itself forcefully on the other two societal forces: beauty and theory. While the two were hanging out in their mom’s basement, both doing their jobs just fine, pragmatism swiftly put hardhats on the two, and they were each told to make a living: Beauty was told to be attractive, and theory was told to be practical. It is this new, falsely assigned occupation of theory that might arguably define the ‘post-critical’ era in which we currently live.

This book aims to be neither practical nor attractive.

When mapped out, this book is amorphous. When drawn out, it is speculative.

Critical theory (that is, pre-post-critical theory) had all of its breakthroughs hermetically sealed in its own practice and cultural sphere. Outside of this sphere, it is callously mocked and misunderstood.

“We need two cultural theorists, quick!” – a joke made by such a person outside of the critical theory sphere. The joke suggests that a cultural theorist, when he is not putting out fires or fixing a toilet, is simply of no use. He is, as Mel Brooks might suggest, a ‘bullshit artist.’

A contemporary artist’s work is not considered worthwhile unless it does something for the viewer; architecture isn’t considered valuable unless it is built and used occasionally.

What must get across is that while the theorists’ art is of no immediate purpose, it is very valuable to the sphere of critical theory, and no other. While its study might appear as useless as that of a disappearing Hopi tribes’, it must be understood that its sphere is an evidently impenetrable bubble.

As many fields as this book may cover, this book will not be brought down like a wandering balloon to cure autism. This book contains no information on how to deal with your teenage daughter. It will not be useful to read this if you are a politician looking for answers. This book is, for better or worse, only of interest (not of use) to those within the aforementioned sphere. Sorry to not burst your bubble.



Written by differance

July 24, 2010 at 7:55 AM

Posted in critical theory

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