Open Letter from Vito Acconci
Both the city and the school are ways to leave home. A city-dweller, a city-meanderer, a student, might choose to go back home, or try to go home again; but the person makes that choice on his/her own, for him/her-self. Neither the city nor the school promotes belief; it might engender commitment, give occasions for commitment, but never belief.
The inhabitants of a city shouldn’t conform to the government of the city; students shouldn’t conform to the administration of the school; the government of the city, the administration of the school, has to twist and warp and morph to fit the inhabitants, to fit the students. People shouldn’t be afraid of their government, students shouldn’t be afraid of their administration; it’s the government, it’s the administration, that should be longing to be afraid of its people, its students – it’s that fear that keeps the government, the administration, alive and changing.
When a city official engenders belief, by punishing the non-believer, that city official turns the city into a suburb. When the provost of a college supports the city official, that provost turns the school into a church. Each tries to close an open system, and a closed system can’t help but die. Conservatism is a last gasp of a dying culture, a desperate attempt to preserve the old world when the new world – the exhilaratingly frightening new world – is just around the corner.