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In the publicity blurb introducing Kornél Mundruczó’s ‘Frankenstein-Project’ (Kunstenfestivaldesarts this May) it says that his piece is ‘set on the edges of society and thematises our hypocrisy’ because ‘we are fascinated by the woman with three breasts but look the other way if we see a beggar’.

This made me ponder why we look away when we see a beggar.

In my opinion it is not hypocrisy but conscience that makes us look away.  We feel partially responsable, as a member of society, for the beggar.  We therefore feel we should do something about it, but we see no real solution (let’s face it, giving small change to a beggar is hardly a long-term solution), so it’s easier for us to deny the problem, and we turn away.

In contrast, we feel no guilt concerning the three-breasted woman; she leaves our conscience untroubled.  If the existence of the beggar left our conscience entirely unstirred we would be able to look and be fascinated  in much the same way.  Unless we were prevented from staring by pity or tact, of course.

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