‘The rules even of particular sports are sui generis. Thus the codes by which soccer is played, and the standards by which excellence is judged, only make sense on the soccer pitch; they are arbitrary and irrelevant to any non-sporting world, and even to other sports. It is this self-referential character that makes the appeal of sport all-consuming to some, and incomprehensible to others: explaining, for instance, why someone can find soccer sublime and golf “a good walk spoiled”. But the analytical importance of the self-referential character of sport goes beyond sporting domains, because sport is representative of other spheres in civil society that share this pure self-referential quality. The most obvious examples are in the arts. Many of the most important art forms – notable examples include opera and ballet – resemble sport in deriving their meaning, and their criteria of excellence, from their own internally generated and highly elaborate codes. They, thus, resemble sport in being “pointless” beyond their coded worlds. That explains why their appeal too is arbitrary: why, for instance, an enthusiast for opera can find the form sublime while viewing ballet as nothing more than a lot of skipping and hopping.'
moran | british regulatory state | the game | society

'Although art obviously offers the greatest scope to the aesthetic disposition, there is no area of practice in which the aim of purifying, refining and sublimating primary needs and impulses cannot assert itself, no area in which the stylization of life, that is, the primacy of forms over function, of manner over matter, does not produce the same effects. And nothing is more distinctive, more distinguished, than the capacity to confer aesthetic status on objects that are banal or even ‘common’ (because the ‘common’ people make them their own, especially for aesthetic purposes), or the ability to apply the principles of a ‘pure’ aesthetic to the most everyday choices of everyday life, e.g., in cooking, clothing or decoration, completely reversing the popular disposition which annexes aesthetics to ethics.'
bourdieu | distinction | the game | webcite

'From this formation, I shall distinguish another modern figure: “the voices of the body”. An example of this other scene is furnished by the opera, which gradually established itself at around the same time the scriptural model organized techniques and social practices in the eighteenth century. A space for voices, the opera allows an enunciation to speak that in its most elevated moments detaches itself from statements, disturbs and interferes with syntax, and wounds or pleasures, in the audience, those places in the body that have no language either. Thus in Verdi's Macbeth , in Lady Macbeth's mad aria, the voice that is at first supported by the orchestra soon continues alone after the orchestra has fallen silent, follows the curve of the melody a moment longer, vacillates, slowly slips away from its path, gets lost and finally disappears into silence. One voice among others breaching the discourse in which it constitutes a parenthesis and a deviation.'
michel de certeau
| practice of everyday life | opera | performance


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