The Bugaboos Project

April 21, 2007

I think it was my recent reading of Schiller’s Notes on the Aesthetic Education of Man that has made me so interested in the way that everyday actions betray analytic, synthetic, and aesthetic impulses. The analytic, Schiller says, is the mark of a purely physical sensibility, reflecting an orientation towards the natural world’s diversity and the differentiated objects of our appetites; the synthetic, on the other hand, is a function of the unifying process of reason. The aesthetic, or play, is cited by Schiller as the only ground of possibility for their interaction.

As I was outside enjoying the spring weather today, I was the subject of an infant’s unabashed stare and thought of how purely analytical it was. “Will this person satisfy some appetite of mine? Will he threaten it? Why is he dressed as a ninja?” he seemed to ask. The infant had not yet been able to synthesize the effect of his stare with social nicety or even the disciplinary effects of other, unapproving kinds of staring. From his stroller, he sought to be the pure viewpoint of science and knowledge.

It reminded me of nothing less than the impunity with which people stare from their cars at pedestrians or each other. The stroller is, of course, not a universal. In many countries, babies are carried in slings attached to their parent’s front or attached by skilled bundling to that parent’s back. Yet the stroller seems to be a unique training device for the burgeoning cogito. The stroller separates the infant from the vicarious experience of his parents’ doings and makes him an easily detachable unit with a proper space (or propre lieu [i.e., a space of his own]) in which to gather knowledge.


One Response to “The Bugaboos Project”

  1. babies.

    so.. i’m thinking about you. if we can’t hang this thursday, we always have the end of may. but check it- they’re showing The Holy Mountain at the IFC center. 🙂
    Oh the possibilities!! 🙂 I will be going to MoMA- Cheers!

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