Monday, September 11, 2006

Presence of mind

"How can we have what Walter Benjamin called 'presence of mind?' — attunement to our own discursive and material context (One Way Street:98–99). Lipsitz invokes this notion of Benjamin’s as follows: 'Whiteness is everywhere in American culture, but it is very hard to see. . . . As the unmarked category against which difference is constructed, whiteness never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its role as an organizing principle in social and cultural relations' (1995:369). Identification, analysis, and opposition to the destructive consequences of whiteness, Lipsitz argued, requires 'presence of mind' — the ability to notice key aspects of the present and how they portend the future, even when they are more latent than overt and obvious and when they are routinized rather than catastrophic."

From Cultural Critique in and of American Culture

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