We create for audiences that do not exist

globe-seats

I came across a heady essay by Corey Robin in The Chronicle – ‘How Intellectuals Create A Public.’

More than a tangential source perhaps, but nonetheless, it contains some choice pieces of wisdom for Adland:

Publics, as John Dewey argued, never simply exist; they are always created. Created out of groups of people who are made and mangled by the actions of other people. Capital acts upon labor, subjugating men and women at work, making them miserable at home. Those workers are not yet a public. But when someone says — someone writes — “Workers of the world, unite!,” they become a public that is willing and able to act upon its shared situation. It is in the writing of such words, the naming of such names — “Workers of the world” or “We, the People,” even “The Problem That Has No Name” — that a public is summoned into being. In the act of writing for a public, intellectuals create the public for which they write.”

That’s also how public intellectuals work. By virtue of the demands they make upon the reader, they force a reckoning. They summon a public into being — if nothing else a public conjured out of opposition to their writing.”

We have the means, we have the material. What we don’t have is mass. We have episodic masses, which effervesce and overflow. But it’s hard to imagine masses that will endure, publics that won’t disappear… And it is that constraint on the imagination and hence the will that is the biggest obstacle to the public intellectual today… the fear that the publics that don’t yet exist — which are, after all, the only publics we’ve ever had — never will exist.”

Rather good, I thought.

Source

Corey Robin, ‘How Intellectuals Create A Public’, The Chronicle, 22.01.16

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