Friday, October 19, 2012

The Wager

It has already become apparent that one of the dangers constantly threatening a sociology of art is a static definition of social life.


And such terms as ‘environment,’ ‘institution,’ and ‘infrastructure’ ought to be consigned to museums because they tempt us to think of collective experience as fixed, immobile and similar to the inert matter studied by physicists in the past.

The better our understanding of the fact that there is a permanent relationship, varying according to the social setting, between all the forces at work within the framework of collective life, the deeper our awareness of the existential reality of the work of art. Is not one of the most harmful illusions that of regarding artistic expression as some kind of specialist activity, completely foreign to the reality of current  problems?

It seems to us, on the contrary, that all artistic creation, on whatever level it takes place and whatever the ideologies used to justify it, is directly linked to that collective freedom which is a vital part of the human condition, which overthrows even the most inert and petrified of structures and which forces human groups (from whom collective representations and classifications are the means by which they achieve integration and immobility) to make changes and to become involved in history.

This relationship is not always perceptible.

NOTE:  My enfeebled brain deciphers that my utterly static social life stands in dangerous and threatening defiance to a sociology of art or, as Professor John Fletcher describes it: “a prologemenon to a sociology of the imaginative function itself.”  (Who knew?) 

But at this point in my turning-and-tossing I haven't decided whether I should somehow try to remedy this situation or simply incorporate it as a credential, a "resume item." It’s all marketing and, as Lou Reed temporized the issue for the ages, “I guess that I just don’t know.” 

Lou Reed: I Can't Stand It (Link)

Text:  "The Wager" (excerpt) from "The Sociology of Art" -- Jean Duvignaud, New York, Harper & Row, 1972.


  1. This is quite wonderful, Curtis.

    Ah, for a miraculous return to those blissful days of collective unconscious uncertainty!

  2. Thank you. Everything else aside (and there's a fair amount of everything these days as I know there is at your house), I'm feeling strong wake-me-when-it's-over election season disturbances. During the late 1960s or early 1970s I remember driving into NYC with my mother who was listening to a radio interview by either Joan Hamburg or John Gambling (probably the former) on WOR radio with Lawrence Durrell. Durrell was a really entertaining guest and spoke about his novels, his brother's animal adventures and once going a year or two without newspapers or radio on Corfu, I think. The predictable punchline, which you've probably guessed already, was that he felt he didn't miss anything important. I expect that sounds pat, but I react badly to general panic, so it sounds acceptable and probably tonic to me now. That being said, dinner will only be served after I prepare it. I hope they like it. As you have probably heard, Everyone's A Critic. Curtis