Consensus and disagreement

The theories of philosopher Jacques Rancière and his politics of aesthetics got a very practical meaning the other day when listening to literature researcher and dramaturge Jan Holmgaard.

He was invited to give a talk at the closing of a mentorprogram run by DIK Association and took his standing-point in Rancière. Very simplified described as two spheres in constant struggle with each other; the current understanding of reality, and the resistance towards this understanding. The gap in between these two is where creativity and modern art finds its role in trying to distort current understanding. A vital society should be one that allows for this gap of disagreement to exist.

Translated to practical work in an organization or, such as in this case, a mentorprogram, it poses some crucial questions. Does a mentorship program institutionalize hierarchy? And is that good or bad? Can anything be done to brake this hierarchy? How would you radicalize the idea of a program for mentorship? What are the blind spots we don’t see, that influence on our understanding of reality and are used as the basis for decisions?

A struggle for consenus, a mutual agreement among a group of people, is undemocratic and just confirms the current. Instead, the democratic line is to allow for dissensus and disagreement, Holmgaard points out. A difficult task, and so beautifully addressed by Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård in his summertalk in Swedish radio in August just a few weeks after the horrifying attack by Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo.

We are all pieces in the puzzle of existing understanding and structure in society. This was a good reminder of how important art is to keep us vital.

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