PRINT November 1977

Some Exercises in Slow Perception

NO ONE MISUNDERSTANDS THAT works of art are in some degree willed objects or events. That is why it is natural to acquaint ourselves with works of art by asking what seems deliberate and what seems fortuitous in them. It is because we see works of art so clearly as products of personal human action that they invite understanding in ethical terms. This sounds like a trivial remark unless you consider how little we experience the objects and settings of our material life as the products of human activity that they are. We look at art with the ideological assumption that is has been made by choice, and so we have no trouble acknowledging the effort and the quality of effort apparent in it. In this sense, works of art can allow us to feel the ethical pressure of everyday life that we are accustomed to repressing.

That is, works of art can sensitize us to the amount and kind of labor, of human

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