"From ancient times to the present 'spectacle' (the visual aspects of human performance–architecture, scenery, costumes, makeup, lighting, special effects, and staging) has been used to expressively embody and evoke meaning in rituals, ceremonies, and artistic performances. This course [Eye Appeal: Spectacle on Stage and in Life at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] will examine the use of spectacle as an expressive mode of communication in human performance from antiquity to the present."
(Bob Hansen, 2004)
"Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty was quickly dismissed upon its release in 1974. Not only did it have to contend with the lingering success of 1972's similarly themed but significantly less abstract The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, but it was quickly followed by the dreamlike, bi–polar romantic entanglement of the director's last film, That Obscure Object of Desire. Like Discreet Charm, the plot–free Phantom of Liberty is a patchwork of comedic sketches and sight gags through which Buñuel ravages a complacent European culture and the various sexual hang–ups and historical and cultural disconnects of its inhabitants. This heady, almost off–putting masterwork isn't particularly easy to decipher (maybe we aren't meant to), which is why it's best to approach it as a literal comedy of manners.
Films structured around daisy chains of dysfunction are a dime a dozen; most, though, are as tiresomely long–winded as they are content with their own strained circularity. This isn't the case with Phantom of Liberty, which begins with a shot of Goya's 1808 masterpiece 'The Third of May.' The painting depicts Napoleon's army executing a group of faceless Spaniards, and via a reenactment of this struggle, Buñuel depicts how one of Napoleon's captains tries to defile the monument of Doña Elvira only to be smacked on the head by the moving arm of the statue of the woman's husband. (He later intends to sleep with the woman's corpse, and when he opens her coffin, he's amazed by how her beauty has been preserved.) It's the first of many sight gags in the film, each and every one as startling as they are perversely funny. All these moments are possessed by a sense of shocked wonderment and discovery, and they all more or less evoke fragile pasts and characters trying to reconcile their historical detachments."
(Ed Gonzalez, 13 September 2003, Slant Magazine)
"Theory provides ways of interpreting practical knowledge. Practical knowledge–the basis of our ability to perform successfully as participants in a social practice–is largely tacit and unconscious (Schön, 1983). Imagine trying to explain to someone everything you know that enables you to carry on a successful conversation with another person. Although you might come up with a few general rules (use eye contact, listen, be relevant), no amount of explanation could more than scratch the surface of the complex habits, skills, background information, and situational awareness that even a simple conversation requires, much of which cannot be articulated verbally. As every novice user of cookbooks or computer manuals knows, even the most explicit instructions can be useless to someone who lacks the skills and background knowledge required to follow them. No theory can tell us every– thing–or, in a sense, anything–we need to know to participate in a practical activity. Practical knowledge comes only with the accumulation of direct experience.
Is theory, therefore, useless? The largely tacit nature of practical knowledge does limit the role of theory to some extent; however, it does not warrant the extreme conclusion that theory and practice are unrelated (see Craig, 1996a, in reply to Sandelands, 1990). Theory contributes to 'discursive consciousness' (Giddens, 1984), our conscious awareness of social practices and ability to discuss them knowledgeably. Discursive consciousness enables activities such as reflection, criticism, and explicit planning, thereby shaping practical conduct. A theory of a practice provides a particular way of interpreting practical knowledge, a way of focusing attention on important details of a situation and weaving them into a web of concepts that can give the experience a new layer of meaning, reveal previously unnoticed connections, and suggest new lines of action. Classroom communication, for example, can be discussed in terms of information processing, group dynamics, or ritual, among other theories. Each theory illuminates a different aspect of the situation and suggests a different approach to practical problems."
(Robert Craig, 2006)
"Skepticism is not new to education. Emerging technologies are often viewed with fear and resistance. Just look at some of the history surrounding educational change.
'Students today can't prepare bark to calculate their problems. They depend upon their slates, which are more expensive. What will they do when the slate is dropped and it breaks? They will be unable to write.'–Teachers Conference, 1703
'Students today depend upon paper too much. They don't know how to write on a slate without getting chalk dust all over themselves. They can't clean a slate properly. What will they do when they run out of paper?'–Teachers Association, 1815
'Students today depend upon store–bought ink. They don't know how to make their own. When they run out of ink, they will be unable to write words or cipher until the next trip to the settlement. This is a sad commentary on modern times.'–Rural American Teacher, 1929
'Ballpoint pens will be the ruin of education in our country. Students use these devices and then throw them away! The American virtues of thrift and frugality are being discarded. Business and banks will never allow such expensive luxuries.'–Federated Teacher, 1959"
(Michael Bloom, Professional Associates for Consultation and Training)
"In 2005, visitors packed into the expansive boulevard leading up to St. Peter's Square as Pope John Paul II's body was carried into the crowd for public viewing in the days following his death. Taken nearly two years before the iPhone debuted, the photo is striking now for its appearance straight out of another era.
For anyone who has ever been to a concert, the photo at bottom, taken Tuesday night as Pope Francis made his inaugural appearance on the Vatican balcony, seems almost ordinary. The two, taken together, reflect a world changing, even as some ancient traditions stay the same."
(Carlo Dellaverson, 13 March 2013, NBC News)
Fig.1 Luca Bruno / AP, The faithful gather in 2005 near St. Peter's to witness Pope John Paul II's body being carried into the Basilica for public viewing.
Fig.2 Michael Sohn / AP, St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, on March 13, 2013.