Sight overwhelms thought in SA: Jansen

2012-09-27 14:43

Johannesburg - The shift in South Africa's society is its ability to mobilise sentiment and emotions rather than critical thought, Professor Jonathan Jansen said on Thursday.

"What drew the masses towards the Goodman Gallery was the powerful image of a protruding penis in a hyper-conservative society, where sight overwhelms thought," Jansen said at a SA Institute of Race Relations discussion in Johannesburg.

"So disturbing was the image that it had to be destroyed."

Jansen was referring to the two men who defaced a painting depicting President Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed.

He said one of the men was "white and middle-class, and the other poor and black".

"Vandalism, in their minds, was sufficient in suppressing the ideas behind the painting and that is what happens in a socially illiterate society," he said.

Barend la Grange, 58, and Louis Mabokela, 25, are accused of defacing artist Brett Murray's painting The Spear at the Goodman Gallery on 22 May, by smearing it with red and black paint.

Jansen's address was titled: "Would the presidential penis have mattered if it were in a book".

He said the reaction to the painting was telling about the education of South Africans.

There was little attention given to attempts to infiltrate logic and debate into the public sphere, said Jansen.

However, hundreds of unemployed and disgruntled people could be mobilised on sentiment alone.

South Africa was a very visual and oral society, he said.

"If the painting was described in a book it wouldn't be the upheaval [that it was]."

Jansen is the rector and vice chancellor of the University of the Free State, and is an honorary professor of education at the University of the Witwatersrand.

  • aniken.vader.31 - 2012-09-27 14:56

    that is WHY we were PISSED with the "shoot the boer", the "whites are criminals" rants, that the two beloved comrades told all this time to the crowds..! They kept saying "it is only metaphorical - to WHO? to these masses of people that are quick to jump and obey?"

      Brad - 2012-09-27 15:42

      @upumba...thank you for that contribution. - 2012-09-27 15:42

      Making decisions based on emotions and sentiment says a lot about the intellect of an individual. Lets get real and honest, the majority of the masses do not have the ability to make good decisions, We see this in the type of leaders they elect, we see it in how they deal with labour and economical issues, we see it all the time in the form of violent strikes, destruction, poor discipline and thuggery. - 2012-09-27 15:57

      justin.mettew who elected the incompetent ANC government?? Who supports the violence instigator Malema?? Is it not majority rule in SA?? - who is the majority??

      araris.valeran - 2012-09-27 16:03

      Justin, you make a good point, but you don't need to be ashamed of being white. As a group, white people did despicable things in the past, but it is up to the entire nation to make a better future for us all, despite what happened in the past. Know that when I, as a coloured man, look at you, I judge you by the content of your character. What you do and say now is way more important to me than what some of your skin colour did in the past. So be proud of who you are, and strive to do great things for our country. See you in the trenches mate. - 2012-09-27 16:14

      justin.mettew - I agree with Araris. Apart from colonialism the white has achieved by far the most in terms of education, discoveries, inventions, science, medicine, astronomy, etc. etc. etc. we put a man on the moon and send robots to mars, the white is the creator of modern civilizations (civilized), and you feel ashamed to be white.

      Clayton Richard Delport - 2012-09-27 16:23

      @ Justin, china you need to catch a wake up, what did I do to your black brothers and sisters? Bloody propagandist, I'm ashamed to call you white myself, you coward! And to the chick who said white did dispicable things??? Wtf??? Where did you learn your history? Bantu school? It's white people like you who make it difficult for white people to stand together, Justin what was crime figures post and pre apartheid? Have you heard of any woman being raped and mutilated with beer bottles during apartheid? Or what about children being murdered an raped? Stupid twat go learn your history as it was not as your Bantu propagandist tells you!!

      araris.valeran - 2012-09-27 16:28

      @Jock Black Please don't use my comment to spew racist vitriol. I certainly do not subscribe to your opinion. I was responding to a man who feels guilt for things perpetrated by people he doesn't even know. I think it is ironic that an article that says "we don't read and think enough" gets such a huge emotional and uninformed outburst of opinion. I could just as easily say that the 80 million people who died in WW2 did so because of a white dude, and if we look back at history we can deduce that the #1 product by white people is disease, oppression, division and death. It is easy to put a spin on things to suit one's own opinion. Smart, intelligent people know that there is no black and white anymore. Just people. People who need to realise that the real objective is to work together to make the planet last so we can find our way off it before we use up all it has to offer. Social inequality is the greatest problem facing mankind and our future. I cannot say "It's not my problem" when my neighbour's house is on fire.

      Clayton Richard Delport - 2012-09-27 16:35

      @ Araris your comments are good, I'm especially tired of all the negative comments against us for being white, if people had to go back to the old days they would be shocked to see the life in the dark ages, when there was no law, when canabalism was thriving amongst tribes, when kings conquered by rape and pillaging, when life meant very little to people, apartheid was but a short crappy time in history compared to all atrocities that has shaped us as people and countries - 2012-09-27 17:18

      Araris I said: I agree with you that Justin should never feel ashamed of being white. I am extremely proud of my race, we've accomplished more on an intellectual level than any other. As for wars and concurring: ALL races/nations are guilty of this, dont isolate the whites as the only ones whos ever been at war.

  • ben.spreeth - 2012-09-27 15:05

    Yes Professor, and if we could have you for a president we could change all this for the better.

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-09-27 15:24

    At last someone says it out loud-people in this country dont THINK! Its as clear as day-they continue to vote for incompetance-then go out on violent strikes because there is no service delivery. This trend is aided by powers that be in keeping its citezens "dumb" by providing poor education.

  • Willie - 2012-09-27 15:41

    Prof. for Min.of Education in the next administration. If the Anc can co-opt Blade why not Prof Jansen

  • cindy.wrathex.ruthven - 2012-09-27 15:44

    A very very tiny minority of the South African population are 'readers'. The majority of people get their news and views from television and a bit of radio and a few from sites like News24. So yes, there is not much depth of thought and lots of viewing sensation and emotional reaction.

  • thelittlegreenhouse - 2012-09-27 15:47

    This comes from watching too much TV

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