Archaeology of Criticism




"[W]e are first of all actors in mundane reality, the arena of our striving and our accomplishment." [Maurice Natanson, The Journeying Self: A Study in Philosophy and Social Role 3 (Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1970)]


"It is possible to speak a language so commonized by generality or jargon or slang that one's own mind and life virtually disappear into it." [Wendell Berry, Standing By Words 207 (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1983)]


"For most of us . . . reality appears relatively friendly. Most of the time the world looks and feels like our own. We pass our time in it with the help of a set of established constructions which allows us to see it as stable, orderly, even 'normal.'" [Stanley Cohen & Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life 19 (New York: Penguin Books, 1978) (1976)]


"The mind's deepest desire, even in its most elaborate operations, parallels man's unconscious feeling in the face of his universe: it is an insistence upon familiarity, an appetite for clarity." [Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays 13 (New York: Vintage Books, 1955)]


"We ordinarily experience the everyday social world as something that has preceded us and now faces us as an orderly scheme of things whose interpretation is handed on to us by parents, teachers, and almost anyone with whom we live and learn. On the basis of the general legacy of language and knowledge into which we are born, we use and enjoy the world in typical ways: we sit in the shade of trees, avoid barking dogs, drink milk, eat the right things, and run to mother for protection. The way in which we speak and act in the world and among others is shaped by our immediate purposes and conventions, which furnish a schema of relevances regarding what features of the world are to be selected for generalization, rule of thumb, reminiscence, use, and avoidance. We commonly assume that things will continue to be as we have known them and that we can go about our business in a routine way . . . and so on . . . and so forth . . . so as to minimize doubt and decision. Or, when something goes wrong, we expect to be able to regularize it, to fix it without having to take apart the whole scheme of things on which we have relied so far.

In the natural attitude of our daily lives the world has for us certain and constant features. We assume that the objects, persons, and regions of the world with which we are familiar will continue to be as they are; similarly, we assume that the experiences and emotions we have relied upon hitherto will continue to work for us as before. We assume that the world is amenable to our purposes and needs and that we shall be able to realize our interests through action in and upon the world." [John O'Neill, Making Sense Together: An Introduction to Wild Sociology 40-41 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1994)]


"There may be moments when we look around and wonder where we are or what we are doing but we soon pick up the threads again and get back to the rich fabric of life. For much of the time we're propelled by rituals and conventions; if the day begins to go stale on us, to seem slow-moving or pointless, then soon we will get caught up in a minor flirtation, a meal, a journey, a family visit.

* * * *

Even men who claim that life is a series of original and exciting and adventures are happy to admit that there still exists some degree of regularity in their own lives. They allow habit to dominate the way in which they dress and undress, brush their teeth, wash up after meals. All of us move through such chained activities with little pause for reflection, rarely worrying that our unthinking involvement within them in any way imperils our personal freedom or our opportunities for expressing identity." [Stanley Cohen & Laurie Taylor, Escape Attempts: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Everyday Life 17, 26 (New York: Penguin Books, 1978)(1976)]


"Men usually live in the common experiences of daily life, covering over with talk and action their real inner personal experiences." [Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture 40 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1959)]


  Contents: Archaeology of Criticism