Thursday, June 3, 2010


"Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there - I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television."-Andy Warhol

1 comment:

JD said...

I understand what he is talking about here to a large extent. I feel that this must be an aspect of the modern politics of identity, where, again, because traditional structures by which we receive some sense of identity and purpose in a social order, and which help give us a sense of self that is susbequently ratified, even if merely psychologically, by our concept of history and our ancestors, because these structures have largely eroded or collapsed, we can see today that identity too is cut loose and is drifting around the marketplace.

Because the sense of self is today, more concsciously self legislated than at any point in history, that sense of identity is also more fragile than, perhaps, at any other point. Self creation means precariousness. It creates an anxiety as to whether or not others are able to recognize us as we see ourselves. The consequence is that we make sure we are seen and heard, and we thrive on the feed back of others. We have to speak out our identity into the masses and hear it echoed back. Then the anxiety of our subjectivity is assauged. I think this is very clear when you look at Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, ect.

As to Warhol's comment, I think once you take into account the dominance of television and Hollywood, we can see why the precariousness of the self-legislated identity takes on, quite naturally, the image of television. We are aware that, on a social and psychological level, we really do have an "audience", the audience that either ratifies our sense of identity by recognizing it, or forces us to modify and rethink it and rebel if it does not. (That is, take a deliberately flagrant identity)

The self-legislation of identity, I think, means ultimately living in the eyes of others. It's a kind of power that, no longer distributed within the structures of tradition, surges through all of us today, and anxiously so as the social sands are quite shifty, lacking the promise of permanence that tradition promised.