On The Pleasure Principle In Culture: Illusions Without Ownersby Robert Pfaller
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.
- Verso Books
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Meet the Author
Robert Pfaller teaches philosophy and cultural theory as associate professor at the University of Art and Industrial Design in Linz, Austria.
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