Wandering the Sea of the Non-Present – Robert Zaretsky – Rousseau – John T. Scott
For Rousseau, though, theater was little more than an app of a broken society, and it was the world that had gone wrong.
…Staged productions representing life, he believed, distracted us from one another, and from ourselves. Theater replaces lived experience with vicarious experience and condemned participants to wander the sea of the non-present. “Nothing appears good or desirable to individuals that the public has not judged to be such,” he observed, “and the only happiness that most men know is to be esteemed happy.” Status updates and emoticons: Rousseau saw it all.
…the two activities during which we are most fully in the present are conversation and exercise. Rousseau saw this as well, but forget the treadmill: he lost himself in mountains and valleys and, while walking, conversed with himself. Indeed, “Reveries of the Solitary Walker” is a manifesto on the benefits of wondering while wandering.