Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ideas Have Consequences - Adam Curtis

Quotations from Adam Curtis's interview with Hans Ulricht Obrist in e-flux.

"How ideas have led us to this position in ways that those who had the ideas didn't really intend."

"[Proust is] part of the problem, which is that obsession with your own experience... What ... happens with Proust is you get the rise of the one voice, the inner voice, which dominates literature today."

"Inner feelings are everything."

"We're living in a conservative age, and it produces cowardly art..."

"...part of the individualism of our age is not just a reflection of the rise of consumer capitalism. I also think it was part of a very conscious political project after the second world war that deliberately tried to push people away from becoming collective." 

"...my working theory is that we live in a managerial age, which doesn’t want to look to the future. It just wants to manage the present. A lot of art has become a way of looking back at the last sixty years of the modernist project, which we feel has failed. It’s almost like a lost world, and we are cataloging it, quoting it, reconfiguring it, filing it away into sliding drawers as though we were bureaucrats with no idea what any of it means. They’ve got nothing to say about it except that they know it didn’t work. It’s not moving onwards—we’re just like academic archaeologists. It’s terribly, terribly conservative and static, but maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe in a reactionary, conservative age, that’s what art finds itself doing. The problem is that it pretends to be experimental and forward-looking."

"I think the way forward is somehow to make it emotional, to rediscover the idea of transcending yourself and joining together with other people....  I think the mood of the moment has to do with a sense that if you’re going to the woods on your own, it’s scary, and you feel weak. But if you go with your friends, it’s fun. A lot of politics hasn’t understood this."

"...I believe that ideas have consequences. And why I like people like Weber is because they are challenging what I see as that crude left-wing vulgar Marxism that says that everything happens because of economic forces within society.... I’ve never believed that. Of course, economic forces have a great effect on us. But actually, people’s ideas have enormous consequences...." 

"I have this theory that you can take very complicated ideas, which are at the root of our present world, simplify them, make them entertaining and funny, yet still keep the essence of what they’re saying. That’s the fundamental thing I believe in. And I loathe the opposite view that you can’t do this without being complicated and obscure and talking as though to only a small, elite group. So I would read someone like Max Weber and think to myself, well, actually, that’s similar to a funny story I found last week about targets and hospitals. I can put the two together."

"I want everyone to have champagne. I want everyone to enjoy the clever things that people do. What I loathe are those who try and keep them secret, and use them as a way of proving that they’re clever."

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