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Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle, and Modern Culture

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  84 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
"Suspensions of Perception" is a major historical study of human attention and its volatile role in modern Western culture. It argues that the ways in which we intently look at or listen to anything result from crucial changes in the nature of perception that can be traced back to the second half of the nineteenth century.

Focusing on the period from about 1880 to 1905, Jon
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Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 24th 2001 by MIT Press (MA) (first published 2000)
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Rhys
Apr 26, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the first chapter very much, as Crary sets up some interesting perspectives on attention and spectacle during the transformation to 'modern' society. He introduces the relationship between attention and the discipline required for labour in a capitalism economy. He also relates the spectacle to a disempowered subject.

And using paintings as a platform to discuss perception was well done, though it seemed at times that he had to pry open his discussion to fit in his stated theses.

"The id
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Sarah
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I find this more convincing than his Techniques of the Observer, though I still find it infuriating how blind Crary is to issues of race and gender.

"[T]he management of attention, whether through early mass-cultural forms in the late nineteenth century or later through the television set or the computer monitor (at least in their overwhelmingly pervasive forms), has little to do with the visual contents of these screens and far more with a larger strategy of the individual. Spectacle is not prim
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Neil Peterson
Jan 28, 2010 marked it as to-read
Shelves: started
"This book is an attempt to sketch some outlines of a genealogy of attention from the nineteenth century and to detail its role in the modernization of subjectivity. More concretely, I will examine how ideas about perception and attention were transformed in the late nineteenth century alongside the emergence of new technological forms of spectacle, display, projection, attraction, and recording." p2
Jean
Oct 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Who knew there were so many ways to "pay attention"-- and so many thing to pay attention to? The first chapter is great, but the overarching focus on paintings doesn't quite work for me, despite the perceptiveness of the individual readings and Crary's protestations about the level playing field of culture.
William West
You'll never look at a Seurat painting the same way again!
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Jonathan Crary, is an art critic and essayist, and is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory at Columbia University in New York. His first notable works were Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century(1990), and Suspensions of Perception: Attention, Spectacle and Modern Culture (2000). He has published critical essays for over 30 Exhibition catalogues, mostl ...more
More about Jonathan Crary...