The experience of critique
DOI link for The experience of critique
The experience of critique book
Critique is not a disembodied discourse, but is socially situated in experiences, particularly crisis or change. Here, the concept of liminality is particularly helpful, as it concerns individuals in tension with social structures, provoking reflexivity and questioning. While liminality mainly concerns a passing transition, the idea of ‘permanent liminality’ interrogates the experience of chronic uncertainty and questioning. The ambivalent situation of critique is that while it may unmask anything and make strident accusations, it is also existentially beset with doubt around all beliefs – and eventually critique rebounds upon the critic in counter-critique. Several other concepts from anthropology are introduced here: Horvath’s notion of alchemy as the liminal disintegration of culture into elements that can be transformed; Girard’s concepts of imitative desire, violence and sacrifice as a way of understanding the contagion of critique; Bateson’s schismogenesis as a model of how culture can be split into dichotomies; and the cultural archetype of the trickster as a counter-intuitive precursor of the critic as an outsider. Together these anthropological models allow us to understand critique as an existential predicament.