Confession and Moral Reasoning

Ilya Repin
Refusal of the Confession, 1885
Oil on canvas

There is a dearth of moral reasoning in the present-day American culture, not to mention in the Church. It would seem to be the logical consequence of a libertarian ideal of freedom, despite all criticisms to the contrary. Under the hegemonic ideology of our day and age, the notion of asserting some claim or access to moral authority is offensive (at least), outmoded (certainly!), and tyrannical (at worst!). It is from this standpoint, for instance, that Michel Foucault calls the Augustinian practice of confession the modern’s source of self and, thus, their prison under the regime of biopower (since biopower undergirds and advances an ideological value of subjectification, etc.). This thesis, one of the central pieces of his The History of Sexuality, is questionable to me. Continue reading “Confession and Moral Reasoning”


Spatial Reading: The Shopping Mall

Amadeo Preziosi
The Grand Bazaar, 185?
Watercolor on paper

The French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard once mused that space has the power to affect the imagination. In this Spatial Reading series, I will be endeavoring to uncover the power of the imagination and the unconscious in familiar architectural spaces. The basic thesis underlying the posts in this series is that spaces constructed by humans are both constructed with particular purposes and values in mind (and ideologies as a result) and received with a variety of purposeful and values affects (and ideologies), and that space in general holds a powerful sway over the ways in which we form our own understanding of lived human experience.

No architectural space more thoroughly exemplifies the American ruling ideology than the shopping mall. In a culture that generally detests being told morality and values, nowhere else are moralities and values more directly dictated than in the shape and form of this space. “Freedom,” the Capitalists say, “is the preeminent human good.” And, so, Freedom is the exalted virtue communicated by the mall: you have the Freedom to pick this store to enter or that store to enter. Continue reading “Spatial Reading: The Shopping Mall”