The Official World
News from the Outside
The paradox of the official world is that an indoor social life is at every moment oriented to the Great Outdoors. This chapter tracks the tactics of interaction—and noninteraction—that define a form of social life turned against itself. There is at once an “incrementalist turn” in recent cultural studies and a turn to the great outside, or news of it. These recent versions of what can be called “the turn turn” are taken up in literary fiction and by way of Erving Goffman’s sociology of “away,” and what Georg Simmel calls “the negative character of collective behavior” in a radically extraverted and suspended life-world in which people meet outside themselves.