Public Intellectuality: Academies of Exhibition and the New Disciplinary Secession

Theory & Event, Vol. 12, No. 4.

Patricia Mooney Nickel

Painting in fin-de-siècle Vienna, like public intellectuality in fin-de-siècle America, was an act of portrayal at a time when artists then, like intellectuals today, composed in an environment characterized by rapid technological change, conservatism, and a government bureaucracy that attempted to pre-empt individual decisions about everyday life. In Vienna this environment was coupled with a public which "was nothing if not conservative. Not only the new, the unfamiliar, but also the great was to be distrusted… Add to which, there was a certain delight in the persecution of the great…" $ Public hostility to counter-portrayals of reality was reinforced by bureaucracies for whom, "the unforeseen, the irrational was excluded; not only the administrative, but also the academic and cultural institutions of the capital ossified beyond any possibility of change…" 5 Intellectual visions of alternatives are likewise judged to be extraneous in fin-de-siècle America, where a letter to The Economist in December 2008 charged that "Academics of all persuasions are where they are today because they believe they know better than anyone else how things should work. Whether many are capable of actually making the world work is quite another issue. The difficulties we face now are not academic; they are real public-policy problems." 6

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(Something interesting I found)Posted:Dec 01 2009, 12:00 AM by nick stock
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