Hearing the Bell

Meditating on a favorite quote (below) and an old Dutch saying: Hij heeft de klok wel horen luiden maar weet niet waar de klepel hangtHe has heard the bell, but he doesn’t know where the clapper is… (Meaning that someone thinks he gets it, but doesn’t.) 

Oils on 60 x 80 stretched canvas. With deference to Keith Haring and Dan Kahan. 
Oils on 60 x 80 stretched canvas. With deference to Keith Haring and Dan Kahan. 

“Creativity always comes a surprise to us; therefore we can never count on it and we dare not believe in it until it has happened. In other words, we would not consciously engage upon tasks whose success clearly requires that creativity be forthcoming. Hence, the only way in which we can bring our creative resources fully into play is by misjudging the nature of the task, by presenting it to ourselves as more routine, simple, undemanding of genuine creativity that it will turn out to be” 
― Albert O. Hirschman, author of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States

The Dutch proverb is about comprehension being hard and hard to check internally. The “he” in the saying knows that he hears the bell—but needs someone else to tell him he doesn’t know where the clapper is. Haring’s work on the politics of technology is often about pushing people to see new ways in which technology is a stimulus that affects us as social organisms like any other modality of power. In Haring, the clapper is power and technology is the sound of the bell—shaping our internal worlds, communication patterns, and politics before we can even localize the felt phenomena. Kahan and others talk about how appeals to motivated political reasoning seem to work in much the same way in cognition; we hear the bell of emotion generating opinion before we can articulate the logic of why that bell, where, how. Hirschman’s creativity, in turn, is about not scaring off that openness to understanding things anew that lets us figure out where the clapper’s at. 

In other words, you people don’t actually have any idea what the fuck I’m trying to say.