that mountaintop must have a nice view
Post #602 • August 15, 2005, 12:29 PM • 49 Comments
I've been teaching a critical art writing class this quarter, and this morning we read an essay by Clement Greenberg, The Experience of Value (1971), that said:
Being puzzled out of, deprived of an esthetic response in a context that asks for one has become a much more common thing than before. A certain large irony has attended on this. Now there are art lovers who'll express a positive "esthetic" judgment precisely because they are at a loss for any judgment at all. The more "unreadable" they find a work of art, the better they assume it to be. Or still worse: They may be really and truly bored because the art at hand is really and truly boring; they may be having a valid esthetic reaction, even if a negative one, but they'll deny it and express a positive judgment because they've gotten used to associating boringness with with "advancedness" and "advancedness" with quality. Of course it's not easy to register the difference between puzzlement and boredom. But in that lies the challenge of "advanced-advanced" art, literature, music in this time.
The more I read Greenberg the more prophetic he seems. Substitute "uncomfortable" for "unreadable" and that paragraph describes the MO for the Rubell Collection with remarkable verisimilitude.
I told my students last week that most of what people believe is mush, and that if you don't kick your beliefs around someone or something else will. That goes double for beliefs that come your way for adoption. We must use our eyes and heads clearly, and not bite every hook.