Lefebvre on Culture: Sleeping Beauty image

I’m working on a much larger project about Lefebvre and the humanities and came across this quotation embedded in a discussion of Marxism and aesthetic questions:

“It so happens that the word ‘culture’ also evokes a magical image for me, that of Sleeping Beauty. She does not doze on flowers and on fragrant grass but on a thick mattress of texts, quotations, musical scores—and under a vast canopy of books, sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical theses. Then one day the Prince comes; he awakens her and everything around the forest comes to life along with her—poets poetizing, musicians musicking, cooks cooking, lovers loving, and so on. Singers? Songs? Yes, they are a part of culture, yet they must not be considered in isolation but within an ensemble that also includes dance, music, cartoon strips, television, and so forth. Moreover, culture is not merely a static palimpsest of texts, it is lived, active, which is what the fable of the wakened princess suggests to me.”

Take it for what it’s worth, but what I like about this image is how it expresses Lefebvre’s central position on culture–which of course dispenses with the ‘base-superstructure’ model that people like to equate with Marxism more generally (and which Lefebvre contradicts head-on in the Critique of Everyday Life). Not merely do a variety of cultural products form a (complex) ensemble, they also spring to life in that very moment when “Sleeping Beauty’s” “sociological, semiological, historical and philosophical” knowledge is awakened (and not a second later).

1 thought on “Lefebvre on Culture: Sleeping Beauty image

  1. Pingback: Lefebvre on Culture: Sleeping Beauty image | concerturbain

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