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Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture (October Books) Paperback – 10 Oct 2001

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Product details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press; New Ed edition (10 Oct. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780262531993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262531993
  • ASIN: 0262531992
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 360,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Crary is the historian-philosopher of our spectacle lives. -Artforum


"Suspensions of Perception" is a major historical study of human attention and its volatile role in modern Western culture. It argues that the ways in which we intently look at or listen to anything result form crucial changes in the nature of perception that can be traced back to the second half of the 19th century. Focusing on the period from about 1880 to 1905, Jonathan Crary examines the connections between the modernization of subjectivity and the dramatic expansion and industrialization of visual/auditory culture. At the core of his project is the paradoxical nature of modern attention, which was both a fundamental condition of individual freedom, creativity and experience and a central element in the efficient functioning of economic and disciplinary institution, as well as the emerging space of mass consumption and spectacle. Crary approaches these issues through multiple analyses of single works by three key modernist painters - Manet, Seurat and Cezanne - who each engaged in a singular confrontation with the disruptions, vacancies and rifts within a perceptual field.

Each in his own way discovered that sustained attentiveness, rather than fixing or securing the world, led to perceptual disintegration and loss of presence, and each used this discovery as the basis for a reinvention of representational practices. "Suspensions of Perception" decisively relocates the problems of aesthetic contemplation within a broader collective encounter with the unstable nature of perception - in psychology, philosophy, neurology, early cinema and photography. In doing so, it provides an historical framework for understanding the current social crisis of attention amid the accelerating metamorphoses of our contemporary technological culture.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 reviews
James McArdle
5.0 out of 5 starsPerceptive suspense
10 November 2006 - Published on Amazon.com
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