Authors & Events
Gifts & Deals
Jul 15, 2014
| ISBN 9781781681749
Jul 22, 2014
| ISBN 9781781681756
Jul 15, 2014
| ISBN 9781781682203
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Jul 15, 2014 | ISBN 9781781681749
Jul 22, 2014 | ISBN 9781781681756
Jul 15, 2014 | ISBN 9781781682203
For many illusions it is easy to find owners—people who proudly declare their belief in things such as life after death, human reason, or the self-regulation of financial markets. Yet there are also different kinds of illusions, too, for example, in art: trompe l’oeil painting pleases its observers with “anonymous illusions”—illusions where it is not entirely clear who should be deceived.Anonymous illusions offer a universal pleasure principle within culture. They are present in games, sports, design, eroticism, manners, charm, beauty, and so on. However, it seems that this pleasure principle is increasingly misinterpreted. The proud proprietors of certain illusions are no longer capable of recognizing that they also follow anonymous illusions. As a consequence, they mistake happy, polite others for naïve idiots or “savages”—the possessors of stupid illusions whose happiness is an obscene intrusion into the lives of more rational creatures.The misrecognition of anonymous illusions thus becomes a crucial ideological bedrock for contemporary neoliberal policy. Hatred of the other’s happiness leads to the destruction of the public sphere and to a state that, rather than fostering and stimulating its citizens’ capacities, interpellates them as victims and limits itself to providing “protective” or repressive measures directed against them.
In this fascinating work of cultural theory and philosophy, Robert Pfaller explores the hidden cost of our contemporary approach to pleasure, belief and illusion.Sports, design, eroticism, social intercourse and games – indeed, all those aspects of our culture commonly deemed ‘pleasurable’–seem to require beliefs that many regard as illusory. But in considering themselves above the self-deceptions of the crowd, those same sceptics are prone to dismissing a majority of the population as naive or misguided. In doing so, they create a false opposition between the ‘simple’ masses and their more enlightened rulers. And this dichotomy then functions as an ideological support for neoliberal government: citizens become irrational victims, to be ruled over by a protective security state. What initially appears to be a universal pleasure principle – the role of ‘anonymous illusions’ in mass culture – in this way becomes a rationale for dismantling democracy.
For many illusions, it is easy to find owners – people who proudly declare that they believe in things such as life after death, human reason, and self-regulation of financial markets. Yet there are also different kinds of illusions at work, for example, in art: trompe l’oeil-painting pleases its observers with “anonymous illusions” – illusions where it is not entirely clear who exactly it is that should be deceived.Anonymous illusions offer a universal pleasure principle within culture: they are present in games, sport, design, eroticism, manners, charm, beauty, etc. However it seems that this pleasure principle is increasingly subjected to misrecognition: the proud proprietors of certain illusions are no longer capable of recognizing that they too follow anonymous illusions. As a consequence, they mistake happy, polite others for naïve idiots or “savages” – as owners of stupid illusions; and consider their happiness an obscene intrusion – as something in which they could never share.Pfaller explores the strange properties of these shared illusions, and finds that they have a central and crucial role in our culture—and we need to better understand them in order to protect the public sphere.
“But let’s go back to belief, to the cliché that today we have lost belief. This is nothing more than a pseudo-debate: today we believe more than ever—and this is the problem, as Robert Pfaller has shown. The concepts of the debate are therefore no longer the same. Unfortunately, however, the great majority of philosophers haven’t stepped up to the challenges at this high level, and thus they burden us with false answers.“—Slavoj iek
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