Sunday, May 31, 2009


Look at the man in the in the middle of the picture. He is Jack Kemp, but he could be anybody, with luck and hard work. He is providing a public image of himself to the media. He looks cool and composed, but his eyebrows are furrowed to show his genuine concern about a particular issue. Around him are buzzing lots of supplements to his public identity, and lots of signs of his prominence. His name adorns his surroundings.

Look at the faces of the people surrounding him. The fat man with the sunglasses, the wiry confused-looking man behind him. The only person who looks bored is the police officer (or security guard?) behind Jack Kemp. That's because his presence is symbolic: it keeps order through its non-intrusiveness, through his absolute refusal to call attention to himself, to act only if someone else acted incorrectly. Almost every large social occasion has many employed workers whose job it is to be invisible, to be nonintrusive. This is especially apparent when, at a club or concert where everyone in the crowd is dancing and moving, the security guards maintain an absolute stone-cold stoicism, and create an expression on their faces which is harsher than usual, to remind themselves that they are not meant to be enjoying the music.

The only moment of visibility is when something goes wrong.

'The speed of the train and the uneventful trip of the passenger are entirely dependent on the complete obedience of the places that are traversed -and also of course on the smooth functioning of the train companies' organization, running, as the saying goes, "like clockwork".' - Bruno Latour, "Trains of Thought"