Tuesday, January 03, 2017
In the NYT, The Everyday Anxiety of the Stutterer.
Conspicuous — the word is from the Latin conspicere, or “all eyes here.” The early 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger said that conspicuousness is the peculiar moment that ruptures the fundamental fabric of human experience — the everyday.
According to Heidegger, the everyday shows itself when its familiarity troubles us. Sigmund Freud called it das Unheimliche, “the uncanny” or literally “the unhomely.” It is that peculiar moment when the very familiarity of our everyday world is itself unfamiliar — uncanny. When our cars break down, planes and commuter trains are delayed, or the tires on our bicycles unexpectedly pop — it is at points like these that we recognize they are valuable precisely to the extent that we, for the most part, can take their functioning for granted. They are essential tools for our daily routines. When these things break down, we get to see (perhaps for the first time) how they really worked, and more important, why we value them so much.
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