THE CHASM BETWEEN DISCOURSE AND EXPERIENCE is hard to ignore: A museum director muses virtuously about the virtues of doing nothing, and then rushes off to a waiting car-and-driver. Curators-as-intellectuals offer glosses on the history of exhibitions cribbed from Wikipedia and return to their seats to play with their phones and trade Sephora samples (really) as others take their turn on stage. And academics whose commitment to avant-garde thinking is their currency ritually name-check the standard landmarks of the European/American 1960s. Almost all of them, in an era of collaboration and pressing politics—“the active multitude”—speak in isolation, their often overlong (and over-familiar or underprepared) performances cutting down discussion time, their precipitous arrivals and departures creating a feeling of just-in-time production before a sold-out crowd of eager graduate students and fellow professionals.

Everyone agreed that consensus was a problem.

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