»Ah!« by Pina Chang

Humans and society are able to reveal each other their most private thoughts. In other words, man can speak for society and society for man. That way man knows about his relationship to society.

But these facts are not explained by an earlier social contract. 1. Its the current agreements we project into some contract to account for those agreements. 2. However, we arent carrying out our common will, but we exert our will for group interests. 3. Thus we obey the logics of conspiracy, although we believe it applies to others. So its an illusion that others mean to us as equals as well as that we mean something for each other, e.g. as free citizens.

So when we know our position, then we do know what should happen. This is what Cavell thinks Rousseau may have found out. Not some new knowledge, but a new manner to use the self as an access to society. In the same breath a new form of ignorance is discoveredthe “unconscious”, an effect of repression.

Talking like Rousseau is for Cavell some kind of lunacy, which notwithstanding doesnt talk at large. So how should we judge this lunacy? As psychic problems? Or is it some kind of mourning about a society behaving like this: consciously repressing the knowledge about its own conspiracies?

Now, of what use is a fable? A fable that set words aside and altogether surrenders itself to pictures. And pictures that shine in bright, full and fruity colours. Maybe its our turn to close our eyes and watch the cultivated tiger promenading,


the young girl dressing in white garments


and the aged man lying off-colour in bed.


Ah! by Panamanian painter Pina Chang.

(Best view when right click on Ah! and “save target as”. Then watch in full screen.)

2 responses to “»Ah!« by Pina Chang

  1. hello, J.A… i read this the last time i went here and read it again today. it’s very interesting but i hope you could do a sequel – some elaboration, if you may… from my understanding, Rousseau argued for organized, structured society, one where people voluntarily surrender some of their individual freedoms, some measure of personal control to the state, the society’s representative. they do so in order to secure peace, justice and other intangibles so that they could live “more freely.”

    i do not know Cavell’s argument, on the other hand, ahaha…. hello to you. miss being here. 🙂

    • well, so we are sitting each on a different pole. I didn’t read Rousseau, you didn’t read Cavell. 😀

      Cavell is discussing objections to social contract theories. about the missing contract and the alleged only argument accounting for this position: the advantage of the social contract. Cavell now is saying that this advantage was seen as a disadvantage of society by the contract theorists, since it means that we are too easily ready to obey tyrants and the like. so Cavell is trying to give another approach to contract theory.

      about his thoughts on Rousseau I cannot say where he has them from as well as I have to admit that I didn’t understood all of his remarks on him. but I found his thought convincing that we are following the line of conspiracy though we are claiming it’s just the others following it (following their self-interests, not caring about others – although knowing what they are up to with regard to me and “my group”). with that, I believe, Cavell is right and I appreciate this ardent self-criticism and try to recognize this in my judging.

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