Monday, August 6, 2007


On pages 357-358 of her essay, Susan Bickford expands on prior work by Hannah Arendt and Richard Sennett, two philosophers of public life, through the following passage:

The public is a place of risk, uncertainty, incompleteness. The outside, as Sennett points out, is a realm of exposure. This is true in the sense of stimulation and learning -- as in being "exposed to a diversity of opinions," exposed to complexity or unexpectedness, to that which is puzzling, different, or new. But exposure also has another meaning, one that has come to be overwhelming -- vulnerability, exposure to hurt and danger, unsafe because not inside... These two senses of exposure can blur into one another; to be exposed to the stranger, one who perceives the world from a different social location, is to be exposed to danger.

So how is it that the second meaning has become "overwhelming?" How is it that the privacy/safety desire so often overwhelms the social/growth desire? And have you seen the triggers to our "safety alarms" that Bickford identifies?


David Streebin said...

Good evening Dr. Childress,

I feel that it is human nature to want to be safe in our own private lives. One has to really expose themselves when they step off the “doorstep” in a world of strangers.

The MArch program is a great example of growing professionally and socially. We feel really “comfortable” in our offices meeting with the same repeat clients and the same negotiated contractors.

Going back to school after walking out the doors 20 years ago, can raise the anxiety level in itself let alone starting to “blog” with complete strangers.

As I get older, I have let my guard down, becoming more “outgoing” socially, and have noticed…. it’s actually exciting and fun.

Matt Anderle said...

I agree with David. Having to make the choice to leave our "comfort" of everday life to experience new adventures, especially online and foreign to what we have known since we were 6 years old as "school", is more difficult understanding that when we do make that decision, everyone will be strangers at first.

"Overwhelming" to me describes the thought of releasing information, opinion, and comment from personal experience that opens ourselves to difference of opinion, reject, and resentment so the original opinion is never given.

Angelo Logan said...

Interacting with peers electronically is totally new for me. Even though I, like many of us on this blog, have use computers for many years. It has typically been for producing drawings or other office tasks. This is new, but interesting and exciting. I have discovered over the years that when we step out to experience new adventures life is so much more fulfilling.

Scott Pfeifer said...

Most people have anxiety about anything different or out of their norm. We feel comfort in privacy/safety with the familiar. At some point, the familiar comfortable can become drugery and boredom. I think both the comfort and exposure of oneself mean nothing without the other. Its easy to succumb to the approach thats the "easiest".