Previous: picasso's suite 347 at the bass (3)

Next: flipped (33)

the rape of the masters

Post #338 • August 4, 2004, 6:55 AM • 29 Comments

I just started on The Rape of the Masters by Roger Kimball. It's already a hoot.

If there were a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Words, "theory" would long ago have been granted protected status as an Abused Noun. Academics wishing to use the word would be required to apply for a special license, submit character references from three persons never convicted of exposure to graduate-school education, and contribute to a fund for other unfortunate words. The case of "theory" is especially sad, because in it we have an example of serial abuse: first by the professors of literature, then the professors of "cultural studies" and kindred interdisciplinary redoubts, and lately by art historians.

The subtitle, "How Political Correctness Sabotages Art," put me off at first. Some conservatives brand a thing PC to save themselves the trouble of thinking about it, and I'm not going to be happy if he tars intelligent liberalism and flaccid Marxism with the same brush. He does have one advantage over the pomos, however, that indicates to me that he's on a better track than they are - he's funnier than any of them so far. He quotes one Professor Keith Moxey:

"Derrida has shown" - doesn't your heart leap up at that phrase? -
Derrida has shown that language is incapable of conveying the type of meaning that is usually ascribed to historical narratives. According to Derrida, linguistic signs are arbitrary constructs whose significance is impermanent and unstable. Language functions to suggest an absent presence of meaning. That is, the meanings of linguistic representations are always illusory, since they depend on metaphysical claims that cannot be substantiated.
It would make an instructive - but also a very long - parlor game to enumerate all the things that have gone wrong in these few sentences. One might begin by asking in what sense Derrida can be said to have "shown" anything about the subject at hand. "Argued," possibly; "contended," no doubt. But "shown"? That word carries with it an implication of cognitive success. ... How about the assertion that "the meanings of linguistic representations are always illusory"? Either it is false, in which case we can have done with it, or it is true - in which case it is, once again, false, because it contradicts itself. Oh dear.

So here's my challenge - somebody find me a postmodernist who can dish out the philosophy and make me giggle in the process, like Kimball here. I have long believed that wisdom culminates in laughter, and that a humorless philosophy is an oxymoron. What does the other side have to offer?

Comment

1.

John Link

August 4, 2004, 2:21 PM

Libertarianism in the works of Joyce

S. Stefan Wilson
Department of Politics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Thomas G. von Ludwig
Department of Deconstruction, Miskatonic University, Arkham, Mass.

1. Joyce and neomodernist theory
In the works of Joyce, a predominant concept is the distinction between figure and ground. However, the subject is contextualised into a libertarianism that includes truth as a whole. Derrida uses the term 'cultural desublimation' to denote the paradigm, and eventually the absurdity, of prematerial class.

It could be said that Debord's analysis of cultural theory holds that the purpose of the participant is social comment. If neomodernist theory holds, we have to choose between libertarianism and the postcapitalist paradigm of consensus.

But Finnis[1] states that the works of Joyce are reminiscent of Mapplethorpe. Several appropriations concerning not demodernism, as Foucault would have it, but subdemodernism exist.

2. Narratives of paradigm
If one examines cultural theory, one is faced with a choice: either accept the dialectic paradigm of context or conclude that consensus must come from the masses. In a sense, libertarianism implies that the task of the poet is deconstruction. Any number of theories concerning postcultural construction may be discovered.

In the works of Joyce, a predominant concept is the concept of conceptual art. Therefore, in Finnegan's Wake, Joyce deconstructs neomodernist theory; in A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man, although, he analyses precapitalist dialectic theory. Several demodernisms concerning a self-justifying totality exist.

"Language is part of the futility of consciousness," says Sontag; however, according to Bailey[2] , it is not so much language that is part of the futility of consciousness, but rather the meaninglessness, and some would say the paradigm, of language. In a sense, the characteristic theme of Werther's[3] model of cultural theory is the role of the reader as poet. The closing/opening distinction intrinsic to Joyce's Finnegan's Wake emerges again in Dubliners.

However, Lacan uses the term 'neomodernist theory' to denote a postconstructive whole. The subject is interpolated into a libertarianism that includes art as a paradox.

Thus, Sontag uses the term 'neomodernist theory' to denote the meaninglessness, and therefore the futility, of dialectic sexual identity. The main theme of the works of Joyce is the role of the writer as participant. In a sense, Debord uses the term 'cultural theory' to denote the collapse, and some would say the stasis, of neocapitalist class. The primary theme of Pickett's[4] critique of libertarianism is not situationism, but subsituationism.

But an abundance of theories concerning neomodernist theory may be revealed. The main theme of the works of Eco is a self-sufficient totality.

It could be said that if cultural Marxism holds, the works of Eco are postmodern. The primary theme of Porter's[5] analysis of libertarianism is not narrative, as Marxist class suggests, but neonarrative.

3. Cultural theory and conceptual capitalism
In the works of Eco, a predominant concept is the distinction between figure and ground. Therefore, the subject is contextualised into a neomodernist theory that includes language as a whole. The main theme of the works of Eco is the economy, and eventually the futility, of subtextual sexual identity.

In a sense, the economy, and some would say the collapse, of conceptual capitalism depicted in Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is also evident in The Island of the Day Before, although in a more mythopoetical sense. Hamburger[6] holds that we have to choose between capitalist neodialectic theory and capitalist dematerialism.

Therefore, Marx's essay on libertarianism states that culture, perhaps paradoxically, has objective value, but only if the premise of postdialectic theory is valid; if that is not the case, Sontag's model of conceptual capitalism is one of "semanticist nihilism", and thus meaningless. In Foucault's Pendulum, Eco affirms neomodernist theory; in The Name of the Rose he denies libertarianism.

4. Realities of meaninglessness
If one examines Sartreist existentialism, one is faced with a choice: either reject neomodernist theory or conclude that the goal of the writer is social comment. But the primary theme of Cameron's[7] model of conceptual capitalism is not, in fact, sublimation, but subsublimation. The subject is interpolated into a neomodernist theory that includes language as a reality.

The characteristic theme of the works of Gaiman is the role of the reader as participant. It could be said that if conceptual capitalism holds, we have to choose between neotextual material theory and predialectic discourse. Dahmus[8] suggests that the works of Gaiman are modernistic.

"Narrativity is intrinsically dead," says Lacan. Therefore, the primary theme of Tilton's[9] analysis of conceptual capitalism is not discourse per se, but prediscourse. Baudrillard uses the term 'neomodernist theory' to denote a conceptual totality.

However, the subject is contextualised into a conceptual capitalism that includes language as a reality. Sontag's critique of neomodernist theory states that the establishment is capable of intentionality, given that art is equal to narrativity.

Thus, Baudrillard uses the term 'the postcapitalist paradigm of consensus' to denote not materialism, but prematerialism. Several theories concerning the collapse, and eventually the rubicon, of textual sexual identity exist.

However, if conceptual capitalism holds, we have to choose between postdeconstructivist dialectic theory and the presemiotic paradigm of narrative. Any number of narratives concerning libertarianism may be found.

It could be said that in The Books of Magic, Gaiman examines conceptual capitalism; in Neverwhere, however, he analyses neomodernist theory. Reicher[10] implies that we have to choose between libertarianism and dialectic objectivism.

5. Neomodernist theory and the subsemanticist paradigm of context
In the works of Gaiman, a predominant concept is the concept of textual sexuality. In a sense, several discourses concerning the role of the writer as participant exist. The characteristic theme of the works of Gaiman is not desublimation, but predesublimation.

"Class is part of the dialectic of consciousness," says Sartre. However, if subcultural Marxism holds, the works of Gaiman are empowering. The subsemanticist paradigm of context holds that society has intrinsic meaning.

In a sense, an abundance of narratives concerning libertarianism may be discovered. The subject is interpolated into a conceptual discourse that includes reality as a whole.

Therefore, in Death: The Time of Your Life, Gaiman affirms libertarianism; in Neverwhere he examines Baudrillardist hyperreality. The primary theme of Dietrich's[11] essay on libertarianism is the genre, and some would say the rubicon, of capitalist society.

Thus, Geoffrey[12] suggests that we have to choose between the dialectic paradigm of expression and Lacanist obscurity. The characteristic theme of the works of Gaiman is the bridge between truth and society.

6. Narratives of fatal flaw
The primary theme of Tilton's[13] model of neomodernist theory is the meaninglessness, and subsequent failure, of substructuralist sexual identity. But Sontag uses the term 'libertarianism' to denote the role of the artist as participant. The subject is contextualised into a subsemanticist paradigm of context that includes consciousness as a paradox.

"Class is unattainable," says Sartre; however, according to Scuglia[14] , it is not so much class that is unattainable, but rather the futility, and hence the dialectic, of class. In a sense, a number of discourses concerning the stasis, and eventually the futility, of postcapitalist society exist. Foucault uses the term 'neomodernist theory' to denote the role of the reader as poet.

However, Lyotard's analysis of libertarianism states that truth is capable of deconstruction. Debord suggests the use of neomodernist theory to attack outmoded, elitist perceptions of sexual identity.

But Bataille uses the term 'libertarianism' to denote the dialectic of textual narrativity. If neomodernist theory holds, the works of Gaiman are postmodern.

Therefore, Wilson[15] implies that we have to choose between libertarianism and postcapitalist theory. Sontag uses the term 'the subsemanticist paradigm of context' to denote a mythopoetical whole.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1. Finnis, Y. (1976) The Meaninglessness of Society: Neomodernist theory and libertarianism. O'Reilly & Associates

2. Bailey, A. K. ed. (1997) Libertarianism in the works of Spelling. Harvard University Press

3. Werther, M. (1983) Contexts of Failure: Libertarianism and neomodernist theory. Oxford University Press

4. Pickett, C. P. K. ed. (1977) Libertarianism in the works of Eco. University of Michigan Press

5. Porter, Y. K. (1993) Postdialectic Appropriations: Libertarianism in the works of Lynch. Cambridge University Press

6. Hamburger, U. Y. T. ed. (1986) Neomodernist theory and libertarianism. O'Reilly & Associates

7. Cameron, Q. (1970) The Fatal flaw of Society: Libertarianism in the works of Gaiman. University of Massachusetts Press

8. Dahmus, R. Z. N. ed. (1996) Libertarianism and neomodernist theory. Harvard University Press

9. Tilton, W. H. (1979) The Defining characteristic of Context: Neomodernist theory and libertarianism. O'Reilly & Associates

10. Reicher, S. ed. (1993) Libertarianism in the works of Burroughs. Loompanics

11. Dietrich, N. B. F. (1975) The Collapse of Sexual identity: Libertarianism, Marxism and posttextual desituationism. O'Reilly & Associates

12. Geoffrey, H. ed. (1983) Libertarianism and neomodernist theory. And/Or Press

13. Tilton, A. D. (1997) Expressions of Failure: Libertarianism in the works of Gaiman. Cambridge University Press

14. Scuglia, R. ed. (1983) Neomodernist theory and libertarianism. And/Or Press

15. Wilson, D. I. (1974) Reassessing Realism: Subcapitalist textual theory, libertarianism and Marxism. Yale University Press



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The essay you have just seen is completely meaningless and was randomly generated by the Postmodernism Generator. To generate another essay, follow this link. If you like this particular essay and would like to return to it, follow this link for a bookmarkable page.
The Postmodernism Generator was written by Andrew C. Bulhak using the Dada Engine, a system for generating random text from recursive grammars, and modified very slightly by Josh Larios (this version, anyway. There are others out there).

This installation of the Generator has delivered 1232451 essays since 25/Feb/2000 18:43:09 PST, when it became operational. It is being served from a machine in Seattle, Washington, USA.

More detailed technical information may be found in Monash University Department of Computer Science Technical Report 96/264: "On the Simulation of Postmodernism and Mental Debility Using Recursive Transition Networks". An on-line copy is available from Monash University.

More generated texts are linked to from the Communications From Elsewhere front page.

If you enjoy this, you might also enjoy reading about the Social Text Affair, where NYU Physics Professor Alan Sokal's brilliant(ly meaningless) hoax article was accepted by a cultural criticism publication.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Go to www.elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern/ and generate as many of these monsters as you like.

2.

oldpro

August 4, 2004, 3:20 PM

I don't think "humorless Philosophy" is an oxymoron, but I wish it were. Postmodernist Derridean drivel is as humorless as the grave.

An excerpt from Kimball's book can be found at:

http://www.newcriterion.com/constant/introexcerpt.htm

A partial list of contents of the book:

Psychoanalyzing Courbet
Inventing Mark Rothko
Fantasizing Sargent
Inebriating Rubens
Modernizing Winslow Homer
Fetishizing Gauguin
Deconcealing van Gogh

I'm pleased to see that Link has put on an essay and reference from the Postmodern Generator, partially because it saves me the trouble of doing it. It really is quite clever, weaving all sorts of strange esoterica throughout. For example, the home base of one of the authors of the above nonsense is "Miskatonic University, Arkham, Mass." a fictional center of arcane research derived from the stories of the great horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. And Sokol's delightful fraud was a real body blow to Pomo; read about it if you have time

3.

Hovig

August 4, 2004, 4:09 PM

The trouble with this sort of provocation is that if you criticize it, even with an involuntary emetic reflex, you end up playing a role that the instigator has written for you.

Alex Ross, "Nausea" (Musical Events), The New Yorker, August 9, 2004.

4.

oldpro

August 4, 2004, 5:11 PM

I know what you mean, Hovig, but this is intellectual terrorism. It has to be eradicated.

5.

Franklin

August 4, 2004, 5:17 PM

Ross continues: Still, opera it nominally remained, and, as opera, it was god-awful. Kimball quotes Nietzsche to the effect that one doesn't refute a disease, one resists it. If booing has me playing the role written by the instigator, I plan to laugh good and hard as well.

6.

oldpro

August 4, 2004, 5:29 PM

Good point, Franklin. Opposition can be resisted. Ridicule is debilitating.

7.

oldpro

August 4, 2004, 5:59 PM

And perhaps I should add, Postmodernism is, in fact, ridiculous. Part of the quote Franlklin used is:

"According to Derrida, linguistic signs are arbitrary constructs whose significance is impermanent and unstable...the meanings of linguistic representations are always illusory, since they depend on metaphysical claims that cannot be substantiated."

In other words, language is useless because it's messy.

Well, Mr Derrida, I'm sorry, but if we are in the middle of the street and I shout "WATCH OUT FOR THE TRUCK!" you are going to jump.

8.

Denise

August 4, 2004, 6:21 PM

Franklin, I'll take you up on the challenge. But as a (wow, this got long) prologue, I would like to say that as someone who actually majored in art and applied cultural studies and engaged in "kindred interdisciplinary redoubts" (er...) I had (and continue to have) two major responses to the topic at hand--that is, postmodernism and its offshoots.

1) I was excited by the ideas. I was excited about their correlation with and study of pluralism, complexity and contradiction, popular culture, feminism, social equality, and, especially, hybrid cultures. As the child of both Cubans and Eastern European jews--or the short version--as a Jewban, finding room for a slightly more complicated worldview was important to me. It was also a way to more thoroughly examine the world around me, to pry up the floorboards and take a look at the underlying structure. I like looking at how things like commercials and fashion and films can have a ripple effect on specific attitudes and phenomena in the culture.

2) I often found the language of academia and theory to be dense and alienating, which seemed at odds with the overarching goals of cultural studies. Yes, phrases like "the neurasthenic introjection of the social feminine as slow suicide" can make it really difficult to get a foothold into a text, especially when that text, once deciphered, has something really valid and interesting to say.

At the same time, even though cultural/art theory is criticized over and over again for its knee-jerk use of jargon (and I've been guilty of hitting up on the jargon myself), I don't think that's something any specialized school of thought or discipline is able to completely avoid. Many words commonly used to describe works of art--"painterly," having "tension," "loose," etc. -- can be just as obscure to someone who doesn't have an art background as "postcolonialism" is to someone not familiar with the term. However, I do think that the specific language of cultural studies and theory is a big factor in making it so inaccessible to so many people. I have beef with that.

In high school, as a 15-year-old art chick, I really admired Abstract Expressionism, particularly after reading Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard (its narrator has an interesting take on the subject). I read Clement Greenburg's biography of Jackson Pollock during a boring driver's ed class one summer. I found it useful and interesting, especially for its insights into the New York art world of the time, but I couldn't stand Greenburg's writing style, and felt that he was melodramatic and full of hot air. Was this because I was "tainted" by postmodernist thought? No! I didn't know what the hell postmodernism was yet. This was my intuitive response.

My point is that many of these characterizations of Modernism vis a vis postmodernism, intuition, and looking at art seem a bit broad and simplistic, and that setting them up in such polarized terms is unnecessary. I don't think it's useful to throw the baby out with the bathwater. All of these schools of thought have elements worthy of critique, but it just doesn't make sense to trash the whole thing. I do believe very strongly in truth and value in many aspects of life--but there are other take-home points from postmodernism that have been very useful to me in other areas.

FINALLY...
I submit - some stuff on PM that doesn't take itself too seriously:

Perl, the first postmodern computer language
http://www.wall.org/~larry/pm.html
(It's actually from a speech by Larry Wall, Perl guru. I hate the conversation with his daughter, but as a whole, it's a pretty funny, thoughtful take on postmodernism, not just in relation to Perl.)

How to speak and write postmodern - by Stephen Katz, Associate Professor, Sociology
Trent University (who identifies himself as part of the academic environment that is interested in/teaches about postmodernism. He pokes fun not so much at the position itself, but at the language: "However, I think the real gulf is not so much positional as
linguistic.")
http://www.infiltec.com/j-postmd.htm

9.

Denise

August 4, 2004, 6:26 PM

Oldpro: not if he doesn't speak English.

I think that's partially what he meant by talking about language as an "arbitrary construct whose significance is impermanent and unstable...", and not that it's useless.

10.

catfish

August 4, 2004, 11:25 PM

Denise: Exactly where did you find "Clement Greenburg's biography of Jackson Pollock"? What was its title? Thanks.

11.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 12:03 AM

Denise, it is GreenbErg and he never wrote a biography of Pollock. His writing is anything but melodramatic. Must be some other person. Please figure out who you were talking about and come back with it.

No one is saying that various cultural studies are a bad thing, only that Postmodernism has had a pernicious influence on art. We are not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we are trying to rescue the baby from it.

Derrida would have jumped anyway because i would have yelled and pointed to the truck. These are forms of language. And "arbitrary construct whose significance is impermanent and unstable..." for Derrida, has nothing at all to do with language difference.

12.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 12:03 AM

Denise, it is GreenbErg and he never wrote a biography of Pollock. His writing is anything but melodramatic. Must be some other person. Please figure out who you were talking about and come back with it.

No one is saying that various cultural studies are a bad thing, only that Postmodernism has had a pernicious influence on art. We are not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we are trying to rescue the baby from it.

Derrida would have jumped anyway because i would have yelled and pointed to the truck. These are forms of language. And "arbitrary construct whose significance is impermanent and unstable..." for Derrida, has nothing at all to do with language difference.

13.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 12:05 AM

sorry, that got on twice. I was having trouble with my machine.

14.

Hovig

August 5, 2004, 12:57 AM

Franklin - I'm with you. I just wonder whether paying too much attention to "pomo absurdity" justifies it (and makes its supporters more entrenched). If Mr Kimball's book suggests how to compete against pomo in constructive terms, I'd love to hear it.

(P.S. - I took Alex Ross to say he accepts the existence of alternate views, but in this case, seeing a specific interpretation of a specific work, it failed to convince him: There are dim stirrings of a good idea hereWagners drama as an earthy rite rather than an Aryan ceremony. Done far more simply, it might have attained a surreal beauty. But Schlingensief botched the transformation. In other words, rather than dismissing it out of hand, he contextualized it, justifying his dismissal.)

15.

Franklin

August 5, 2004, 1:31 AM

Hovig and Denise: The ideas getting hit around here - rabbits et. al. in the opera, examinations of culture as they affect art, and so on, are fine. More specifically, they're neutral - they might pique someone's interest for whatever reason and something good could be done with them. No argument there. My problem is with bad faith. Schlingensief hates Wagner, but there he was producing Parsifal. Denise "often found the language of academia and theory to be dense and alienating, which seemed at odds with the overarching goals of cultural studies." You bet it was, which tells you how serious academia was about achieving them.

Whatever adds to knowledge of the world is worth exploring, as is anything that makes the world a more just, diverse, and interesting place. But hatred doesn't accomplish that, and neither does bad logic couched in obfuscation and a withering attitude. Pomo enables both. What portion of it is worth saving? (I mean to imply that there may be one, not the opposite.)

16.

Hovig

August 5, 2004, 2:21 AM

Franklin - I'd agree Schlingensief was wrong to take money from Wagner lovers and display Wagner hatred (the trangression being the trickery, not the work itself). Are you saying pomo takes an audience who wants to learn cultural appreciation, and teaches it cynicism instead? I think there's something to be said for emotional detachment, but are you saying pomo goes further, inculcating some form of cultural animosity? "Hatred" is a strong word....

17.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 2:33 AM

Hovig: Pomo is a disease, a virus, a cancer. Getting rid of it is constructive in itself. Because it is intrinsically nonsensical I think the best way to kill it is to ridicule it. Once the wave of laughter washes over the land those "entrenched supporters" will turn tail together like the lemmings they are. It will happen, believe me. I just want to see it happen sooner rather than later.

I dont have the skinny on the latest doings in Bayreuth, but what is a guy doing producing Wagner if he hates Wagner? Is it the music or the antisemite/Nazi thing?

I will go for "just" and "interesting", but I am getting a little sick and tired of "diversity". PC has deprived it of any real meaning. It needs a rest.

18.

Jack

August 5, 2004, 2:49 AM

For Denise and Oldpro:

The Pollock biography in question is "Action Jackson," written by one Jan (not Clement) Greenberg and Sandra Jordon. It's apparently a picture book intended primarily for grade school kids. The link at Amazon is:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-form/ref=s_sf_b_as/103-7961664-6314230

19.

Denise

August 5, 2004, 3:04 AM

Franklin - in answer to your question, "What portion of [pomo] is worth saving?" my answer would be #1 from my comment above. I don't see how pomo enables hatred. Emotional detatchment, maybe, and it's up to us to strike a balance between obsessively looking at everything through the lens of theory, which I think can be unhealthy, and applying it when it can be meaningful.

As for "bad logic couched in obfuscation and a withering attitude," I think that nearly any intellectual discipline--science, computer science, psychology, medicine, economics, art--can be held guilty of this in its most insular, academia-bound forms. Many of the artists and professors I knew in undergrad whose work related to theorizing culture and postmodernism were very sincere about those "overarching goals," were involved with activist work outside academia, and were not making a lot of money, either. That said, it's not a perfect form or solution by any means, but I think that discarding it entirely also means discarding some extremely useful tools for understanding some of the things I referred to in my first comment.

All right, oldpro and catfish, I am blushing into the computer screen - I could have sworn that book was written by Clement GreenbErg, but I scoured Amazon and several other sites, but you're right. He did not write a bio of Pollock. And no, Jack, it wasn't Action Jackson. Very funny. I think it may have been Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible, by B. H. Friedman--that's the one that seems the closest to what I remember reading 12 years ago. I'm going to keep looking, though...not sure.

Sigh. And I had a feeling one of those "sick of diversity" remarks was coming. I agree that empty lip service to diversity gets really old, but on the positive side, I don't think true diversity will be getting a rest anytime soon.

20.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 4:12 AM

"Action Jackson" is a riot. I am sure it is a real groaner.

Instead of looking for the bad Pollock book, Denise, how about reading some real Greenberg? I think you might be surprised to see what actual superior art writing is like.

I am pleased that I could accomodate you by soming up with the "sick of diversity" quote you so eagerly anticipated. Now maybe you can tell me what "true diversity" is. Diversity means things are different one from another. This is not good. this is not bad. It is just a kind of fact. Why does everyone sigh with quasi-religious ecstasy at the word? I don't get it. I think I am going to start a movement in favor of "true uniformity".

21.

Franklin

August 5, 2004, 5:33 AM

The state of things being different from one another is usually good. Democracies work well because they account for a wide range of opinions. Your nightlife is more likely to be interesting if you have 150 options instead of five. Crops are less likely to get wiped out if there are more genetic varieties in them. Increasing access across cultures produces successful hybrids such as rock music, Impressionism, and Tiger Woods. A certain amount of order and repetition is necessary, of course, but homogeneity is a drag. If diversity is out of gas, variety will do.

22.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 6:13 AM

Sure, Franklin, you can take just about any word and make any kind of case you want to for the real-life instances which it may encompass. But certain words acquire an aura of intrinsic virtue (or wickedness) that compels a knee jerk "Yes...it is good, it is so, it is the way it truly is" or its opposite, or whatever. When this happens the word loses meaning and becomes a signal for a reaction - of approval, or disapproval, or something - and thereby must be used gingerly, with that awareness. Literate people need to be able to hear this and act accordingly.

23.

Franklin

August 5, 2004, 6:56 AM

Hovig: Pomo is loaded with cultural animosity. I don't know if it's intrinsic, but in practice it has tried to reduce all aesthetic impulses to political ones. As for hatred, I'm just quoting Schlingensief here.

Denise: As for "bad logic couched in obfuscation and a withering attitude," I think that nearly any intellectual discipline--science, computer science, psychology, medicine, economics, art--can be held guilty of this in its most insular, academia-bound forms. Not true. Obfuscation, maybe; withering attitude, probably; but foist bad logic in science, computer science and economics circles and your colleagues will jump over each other to take your head off for the glee of it. The consequences of bad logic in medicine and psychology are injury and insanity, respectively, and are not tolerated. That leaves art, which by its subjective nature is prone to being addressed with sloppy thinking. I'm sure your profs were fine human beings, but I observe that Pomo as it is practiced in the arts begins by assuming absurdities and ends with insults to common sense. Perhaps there are other ways to practice it, but if its means include the tolerance of phrases like "absent presence" it's hard to know how else it could be implemented.

24.

Hovig

August 5, 2004, 7:23 AM

Franklin - I think we're getting somewhere. If you're saying pomo's main intent is to reduce aesthetics to politics, then I agree wholeheartedly, it's not only nakedly ideological and wantonly dogmatic (reason enough to me to condemn it beyond reprieve) but completely misguided to boot.

Sure, some art is political, and inasmuch as art reflects life, there are bound to be ulterior motives contained in art (or echoes of ulterior motives [or echoes of echoes...]), but boiling everything down to one dimension is by its very nature a crude and inaccurate pursuit.

I also take your point about bad logic, but on the other hand, aesthetic theory is by its very nature an imaginary or at least untestable (perhaps unfalsifiable) exploration, so I'm not sure how it can be made rigorous. I don't think anyone will be lining up any time soon to conduct a prospective randomized double-blind study on the nature of aesthetic phenomena (what would one test, the placement of a yellow dot of certain circumference on the picture plane?), so I don't think there's much we can do quite yet to bind theory to reality, as we can with the other hard sciences you name.

Perhaps neuroaesthetics will provide a better foundation for future theory (and frankly, it seems like a lot of fun no matter what), but still, it's always going to be pleasing to humans to entertain flights of fantasy and theorize imaginatively about the world. I mean, sure, when fantasy becomes dogma, and corners the market on academic acceptability, then yes, we're back to what I said in paragraph #1 up there, and we should dispense with it. I'm just talking in the abstract here about the joy humans take in unbridled creativity, and the desire to experiment with concepts to see if any of them stick.

25.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 2:49 PM

Hovig: Franklin's statement above is completely correct and coherent. In reply you make a stew out of the concepts of logic, fantasy, testability, rigor, theory and the rest. There is nothing wrong with creativity, fantasy, experimentation; this is how we make art. But talking about it demands logic, rigor and common sense. The fact that quality in art is not demonstrable in words does not justify sloppy thinking about it. Quite the opposite.

26.

Hovig

August 5, 2004, 6:06 PM

Oldpro - I'm not sure exactly what you're disagreeing with.

27.

oldpro

August 5, 2004, 9:19 PM

Your statement favored, or at least tolerated, the use of "flights of fantasy", "unbridled creativity", imaginative theorizing, lack of rigor and such when writing about art. My point was that these things are appropriate when making art but not when writing about art.

28.

Hovig

August 5, 2004, 9:49 PM

Oldpro - I also said, "aesthetic theory is by its very nature an imaginary or at least untestable (perhaps unfalsifiable) exploration," which you may or may not agree with, but more importantly, I continued, "so I'm not sure how it can be made rigorous."

In what way(s) do you think aesthetic theory is already rigorous in general, or how do you think it can be made more rigorous in general?

29.

oldpro

August 6, 2004, 2:21 AM

Hovig: I think if you start with the idea of "esthetic theory" you are in trouble already. I have never seen much that could be called that which amounted to much, rigorous or not. I think Kant was the only one who made much sense, when he said it is all just intuition (or many more words to that effect). What you can have is good, strong, intelligent, common sense writing about art, Read Greenberg's Art and Culture. That's good art writing.

Subscribe

@franklin_e

franklin.e

Offers

Other Projects

Legal

Design and content ©2003-2017 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted