Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Indecency is not injustice but the proximate occasion of injustice. My line on proximate occasions (also of sin) is that they should not necessarily be avoided. In that sense, my position is less than Catholic.

Indecent acts, in fact, are also occasions of greater good, i.e., of higher-level justice, and the road to the improvement of imperfect institutions.

Justice only makes sense in the context of institutions. The reproduction of the conditions of our institutional experience depends on our decency. It can therefore, sometimes, be necessary to behave indecently as an act of resistance. Indecency challenges the immediate power of institutions...

...just as dishonesty challenges the immediate knowledge of intuition. The argument for dishonesty in particular situations is that it creates a space that is freed from habitual judgments on matters of fact. Indecency, likewise, fosters moments that are freed from habitual judgments about how we act. They are "shocking".

[Update (07/07/2014): Art must provide the proximate occasion of scandal. See Andrew's comments and my response to this post.]

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