This remark from Wittgenstein’s ‘Last Writings on the Philosophy of Psychology’ (Vol 2 The Inner and the Outer, Blackwell 1992 p72e) reminds me of the approach to rules and their existence in society that we find in the work of Zizek. Given the radical epistemological gulf between them this is actually rather an odd association to be prompted to. However, it does suggest that in any discussion of society, culture and discourse there will be remarkable similarities because the object of study (society, culture and discourse) is the same and that this will tend to limit the range of actual differences found in the work that results (unless specific ideological purposes are being played out).
The annihilation of the distinction between private & public in space/place is shown by many scholars (Benjamin especially) and here Debord offers another means of understanding this problematic lack of difference.
Today the different unities of atmosphere and of dwellings are not precisely marked off, but are surrounded by more or less extended and indistinct bordering regions. The most general change that dérive experience leads to proposing is the constant diminution of these border regions, up to the point of their complete suppression.
Within architecture itself, the taste for dériving tends to promote all sorts of new forms of labyrinths made possible by modern techniques of construction. Thus in March 1955 the press reported the construction in New York of a building in which one can see the first signs of an opportunity to dérive inside an apartment:
“The apartments of the helicoidal building will be shaped like slices of cake. One will be able to enlarge or reduce them by shifting movable partitions. The half-floor gradations avoid limiting the number of rooms, since the tenant can request the use of the adjacent section on either upper or lower levels. With this setup three four-room apartments can be transformed into one twelve-room apartment in less than six hours.”
Rarely is the dependence on authoritarian structure of knowledge of dominant social groups so obviously brought to our attention as in this case:
Wittgenstein “Last writings on the philosophy of psychology Vol.2: The inner and the outer”
The language-game of reporting can be given such a turn that the report gives the person asking for it a piece of information about the one making the report, and not about its subject-matter. (Measuring in order to test the ruller.)
[cf LW I, 416; PI II, x, p. 190d-191a]
Wittgenstein does not go far enough; it now seems clear that that is all that can be had from a report. This is not a tragedy, however, as acceptance of this position leads the way to a more secure epistemology.
This is (very nearly – the penultimate cup is on its very last legs) the last cup from the set of crockery my (maternal) grandmother gave my wife & and I as a wedding gift in 2003. It is a simple ceramic cup and could not possibly count as anything special; except to me. What is important about this cup is not its materiality or its ‘thingness’ but the way in which it expresses a particular set of relationships and interactions. To put it more formally it is not the ‘circuits of praxis’ that are important about this cup but the history of interactions it represents and these are more fragile than the cup.
Douglas and Isherwood developed the idea of the ‘exclusion activity’ in their The World of Goods as a means of thinking about the power of commodities and peoples use of then to create and affirm boundaries. The ‘market’ is obviously such an ‘exclusion activity’. A market is fundamentally about excluding certain individuals from access to particular resources for the benefit of another, typically restricted, group. The air travel ban caused by the Icelandic volcano has created an exemplary situation in regard of air freighted vegetables. The EU is a great consumer of african vegetables all of which are brought by air to the supermarket system of the union. These vegetables are now, of course, rotting at their embarkation points in africa because they cannot be exported and they cannot be afforded by the people in the places that produce them. The market acts to exclude one group for the benefit of another.
“The true method of making things present is to represent them in our space (not to represent ourselves in their space). (The collector does just this, and so does the anecdote.) Thus represented, the thing allows no mediating construction from out of “large contexts”. The same method applies, in essence to the consideration of the great things from the past – the cathedral of Chartres, the temple of Paestum – when, that is, a favourable prospect presents itself: the method of receiving the things into our space. We don’t displace our being into theirs; they step into our life.”