Monday, May 3, 2010

122 / Institution

The word "institution" has a static sense to it; it is a word with a ponderous, weighty implication. "Institutions," we suppose, are like the pictured structure, which was formerly called the "Royal Institution," in Edinburgh, and is now called the "Royal Scottish Academy;" that is, "institutions" are "structures and mechanisms of social order," existent "realities" which we confront as if they were the permanent facts of life.

There is, of course, a different reading of the word "institution." The word also means "the act of instituting or setting up." The word "institution," in other words, is the process of starting something new in the world, and of creating a new reality. The "structures" we most often think of as "institutions," be they physical structures or arrangements within the social order, are the historic artifacts and the left-behind remains of what "institution" is really all about:
Beginning something new.

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