liz heron

(…)the destruction of experience not longer necessitates a catastrophe and that humdrum daily life in any city will suffice. For modern man’s average days contains virtually nothing that can still be translated into experience. Neither reading the newspaper with its abundance of news that is irretrievably remote from his life, nor sitting for minutes on end at the wheel of his car in a traffic jam. Neither the journey through the nether world of the subway, nor the demonstration that suddenly block the streets. Neither the cloud of tear gas slowly dispersing between the buildings of the city center, nor the rapid blasts of gunfire from who knows where; nor queuing up at a business counter, nor visiting the Land of Cockayne at the supermarket, nor those eternal moments of dumb promiscuity among strangers in lifts and buses. Modern man makes his way home in the evening wearied by a jumble of events, but however entertaining or tedious, unusual or commonplace, harrowing or pleasurable they are, non of them will have become experience.(…)                                                

Giorgio Agamben, from “Infancy and History The Destruction of Experience”, p.13, Verso, transl. by Liz Heron

(…)The beginning of the modern concept of history has often been traced back to the words with which Herodotus opens his Histories: ‘Herodotus of Halicarnassus here puts forth the fruit of his researches, so that time may not erase men’s undertakings … ’. It is the destructive character of time which the Histories wish to combat, thereby confirming the essentially ahistorical nature of the ancient concept of time. Like the word indicating the act of knowledge [eidénai], so too the word historia derives from the root id-, which means to see. Hístor is in origin the eyewitness, the one who has seen. Here too the Greek supremacy of vision is confirmed. The determination of authenticity as 'present before the look’ rules out an experience of history as what is already there without ever appearing before our eyes as such.(…)

Giorgio Agamben, from “Infancy and History The Destruction of Experience”,    p. 94, Verso, transl. by Liz Heron