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why i am not a postmodernist

Post #593 • August 2, 2005, 4:20 PM • 120 Comments

We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world -- its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it. Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it. The whole conception of a God is a conception derived from the ancient oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men. When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men. It needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence. It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create.

Bertrand Russell, Why I Am Not a Christian

A point-by-point refutation of Kathleen's comment #197 under this post, as promised in #199 under same, turned out to be unnecessary. As a quick rejoinder, I offered:

[Quoting Kathleen:] That painting which depicts Chinese porcelain is showing the affluence of the Dutch household, not Dutch appreciation for other cultures. Wrong - it shows both of them. This idea that the former negates the latter is simply an intellectual bias, and one I don't share.

But this is pretty much the whole deal. Kathleen had just described a brief history of Dutch colonialism and racism. For her, they taint any further discussion about the art. For me, the taint is on history, not art. Humans do bad things and good things simultaneously.

But using excerpts from Kathleen's post, we can witness pomo failing on three points:

1. It depends on the conflation of categories, but it is extremely selective about which categories conflate and which supposedly don't.

Your response showed a poor understanding of colonialsm, post-modernism, and the economic and social ramifications of art thoughout history. Sure, you have a good grasp of philosophy and aesthetics, but you are mistaken to think that it translates.

This presupposes that postmodernism translates infinitely but philosophy does not. I see no evidence for this. The only reason you might think otherwise is because you imagine postmodernism as a meta-category that includes philosophy. If anything, the reverse is true.

2. It subordinates all concerns to political and economic ones, as if politics and economics were the underlying basis of all human activity.

...many people are uncomfortable with the assertion that Nefertiti was Black, because of course, her grandfather, Ptolemy, was Greek, even though there is no mention anywhere of her grandmother's race, nationality, or effing identity. So, the Greeks "appreciated" Egyptian culture because they appropriated it? Or because they flat-out ruled it?

"No mention anywhere of her grandmother's race," etc., doesn't indicate Nefertiti's blackness any more than refute it, but even if she was green, what bearing does that have on the Greeks usage of Egyptian motifs? You have to notice here that appreciated gets scare quotes but appropriated does not. Scare quotes are a non-reason-based tactic that in this instance are used to throw doubt onto the former term and present the latter one as given, even though neither case is proven here. How about the possibility that the Greeks learned from the Egyptians? Alas, there's no room in the pomo cosmology for such a possibility, as the Greeks were a conquering nation. Upper and lower Egypt were united by force under King Narmer, but that doesn't seem to play into this.

This reduction of aesthetic motives to political ones is a game you can play with any big theme. Sexuality, for instance, as one might with a simplistic reading of Freud; we could discuss Ptolemy's forceful penetration of the land of the Nile. But assertions like this are unprovable and useless, and furthermore, life is complex. When Alexander invaded India around 200, it set off a Greek vogue in Indian sculpture for a couple of centuries. In the Egyptian case, the conquerors absorbed the style of the conquered; in the Indian one, the reverse happened. Can both of these be explained by colonialist theory? Of course it can. You can explain anything with colonialist theory. Lube up your prose with scare quotes and get twisting.

Human behavior at its base is not political, economic, aesthetic, or anything else. It just is, and no one has come up with a grand theory about it yet that doesn't immediately create a giant class of counterexamples. People are like that. So is art.

3. Reason and facts serve it poorly, so it relies on belief and guilt, like a religion.

The tenets which you put forth in your above comment display an ethnocentric, self-important view, so intoxicated by privilege that you appear to be blind to it.

No disrespect, but was pomo invented by Catholics? I ask because it has such richly developed descriptions for sin, some of which are so innate as to resemble the concept of original sin. I'm led to understand that the so-called Good News posits that since I don't accept Jesus as my savior, even if I do good works in this world, I'm destined for an eternity in perdition. Likewise, my only way out of comfortable ensconcement in European patriarchal privilege necessitates a path of feminism or racial activism. Wait - is that an "or" list or an "and" list? What is racial activism, anyway? Is it enough that I believe that people should get paid the same amount for equal work regardless of of their ethnicity or gender? Does it matter that my first two girlfriends were shades of coffee?

Don't answer - I already know it. The answer is no. The first is an example of measurement using the ultimate state-approved mechanism of codifying value, money, and as such is part of the arsenal of power-mongering coercion, long in use by European patriarchy. The second implies that my male organs became involved in a transaction of "affection" which necessarily exploited historically compromised entities, females and blacks, in a simulacrum of interpersonal exchange, under the guise of a romantic model inherited from a sexist tradition of Western courtship. See, it's easy to generate this crap once you get the hang of it.

But even if it weren't absurdly reductive, internally inconsistent, unreasoned, joyless, and dependent on guilt-inducing nastiness (ethnocentric is a fancy way of calling someone mildly racist, and I'm not sure about the mildly part), you can't use it to talk about art because it presupposes that art is simply another manifestation of politics. All postmodernist discussions about art devolve to political discussions, yet somehow its adherents think of themselves as open-minded, moreso than people who don't share their views. This may be its greatest absurdity, but not its most hilarious. That honor goes to much of the art it defends.

I'm with Russell - "We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages." So let us persist and make the best art we can.

Comment

1.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 4:32 PM

Ah, sweet Bertrand.

2.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 5:16 PM

And poor Kathleen.

You can close your eyes, spin a globe and rest your finger anywhere. If the place is inhabited it will have a long, long history of murder, oppression and injustice. It is also more than likely to have produced art of some quality.

Both are interesting, and each should be taken on its merits.

3.

mek

August 2, 2005, 5:23 PM

Quite a diatribe.

Makes me wonder about the nature of this blog.

4.

Hovig

August 2, 2005, 5:29 PM

Human behavior at its base is not political, economic, aesthetic, or anything else.

Economics, politics and aesthetics are the study of human behavior. As such, human behavior is all these things by definition. If you meant to say human behavior is not simple, predictable or monolithic, then okay, it's not simple, predictable or monolithic. But human behavior is certainly economic, political and aesthetic, as well as philosophical and regenerative, in varying degrees, at all times.

BTW, you and Kathleen are both right. Certain Chinese pottery was esteemed by the Dutch and coveted because it was thought to be valuable (the colonial argument), and also because it was thought to be beautiful (the aesthetic one). Both points of view are right, but I think both miss the reason postmodernism exists, and the reason it persists. It's my feeling that postmodernism owes its existence to the rise of question, What is it?

I won't answer for postmodernism as a way of life or as a type of philosophy, but I think I understand why it has taken hold in the world of image-making. I think postmodernism owes its existence to the increasing exploration of the west over the past 500 years -- meaning both geographic and intellectual, without regard to intention, whether hegemonic or otherwise -- the rise of technologies like air travel and photography, and again, to the existence of one simple question: What is it?

Let me try to connect these dots as briefly as I can. These are the opinions of a non-art-historian who's just trying to figure things out, so take it with as many grains of salt as you want, and don't take offense or umbrage, as I don't think any is intended.

During the past few centuries, the west explored non-western worlds with increasing frequency. Politics, economics and aesthetics were all part of the picture. It doesn't ultimately matter why we traveled, or what we got from it, all that matters is that it was done.

The first time goldwork was brought back from Mexico, it aroused the interest of Albrecht Durer, way back when. Many here are familiar with the famous illustrations of the "hottentot venus," or has heard stories of the first time a rhinoceros or pineapple was taken to Britain.

As the west explored, and brought back objects or illustrations, people back home became accustomed to asking, What is it? Advances in science and technology had the same effect, reinforcing in the west this multi-cultural curiosity. With the advent of air travel and photography, the incidence of unfamiliar images increased. With telephones and televisions, this process of cultural exchange accelerated, and with WW2 came unprecedented international exchange.

Before the 15th c, everyone saw images in the same context. Everyone lived in the same village, everyone looked similar, and believed the same things, more or less. Icons were the predominant form of image-making. By the middle of the 20th c, we couldn't guarantee any image's context. You needed a caption. Eventually we went beyond being merely accustomed to asking "What is it," and started expecting to ask. We demanded athe caption.

This is postmodernism. Was it begun by Duchamp? Dali? Warhol? It doesn't matter. What matters is that context could no longer be taken for granted, and had to be provided. People not only became accustomed to being given a context, but came to expect it, even demand it. Once it became the social norm to ask "What is it?," postmodernism in image making was born.

5.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 6:00 PM

My explanation for Postmodernism ( brief synopsis)

A long time ago, in a gallery far, far away...

Episode 1: Art Wars: Rise of the Academy
Art making was a proscribed activity, sanctioned by official schools and institutions. Art was made within certain genres. Proper style was dictated by those 'in the know'.

Episode 2 : Art Wars: The Artist Strikes Back
Rebel artists like Manet Skywalker broke up the academic stranglehold of Darth Stew and the Emperor Gravy, and restored a less rigid sort of order to the gallery.

Episode 3: Art Wars: The Revenge of the Academy
Angered by being made fools of by the rebel avant-garde, and unable to guess what the avant-garde's next move would be, the Academics came up with their masterstroke, and decided unpredictability and 'rebellion' was the new 'proper' style. New, socially relevent genres were instituted. The Death Star named Postmodernism was now fully-operational.

I can't wait for the next episode!

6.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:01 PM

Hovig, buying a Chinese plate because it has value is not "colonial", and the damn Chinese were happy for the market, and so forth and so on.The whole Dutch/Chinese discussion is bunk.

Good lord, I think the first time Europeans saw a giraffe they said "what is it" with a whole lot more wonder in their voices than we say "what is it" to an Indian sculpture, say. I am really suspicious of this "we are so bombarded by images" stuff, and all the multicultural blather.

Cultures are getting rapidly zapped, not encouraged or better appreciated by all this multiculturalism. It is not prompting "what is it", it is prompting "why is everything becoming the same".

7.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:05 PM

Problem is, Matty, they got Luke Shittalker on their side now.

8.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:06 PM

MEK, once again, if you "wonder about the nature of this blog", what do you wonder? Say something.

9.

George

August 2, 2005, 6:17 PM

Whoa, just woke up from a nap, to find a fire in the server.

I'll point out the most obvious flaw in your argument. You are responding to Kathleen comments as they were a source of postmodern discourse. They are not. Worse you have somehow bent her comments into a catchall excuse to dismiss one prevailing philosophical position, with which you disagree, and using an argument to her response to validate your position. This is not a very rigorous way to initiate a dialog on an already obfuscated topic.

10.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:22 PM

Excellent, George.

Give us a Postmodernist argument or position.

11.

ms quoted

August 2, 2005, 6:23 PM

I can hardly wait to call the next postmodernist I meet a Luke Shittalker!!!!!

12.

George

August 2, 2005, 6:32 PM

Hovig, What is it? brilliant :-)

Fast forward to the present day. While I was looking on the web for Matisse pictures I became acutely aware I was asking myself "is it real or is it Memorex?" Why, because of the proliferation of reproductions and painted facsimiles which look like Matisse's but are not copies of his actual paintings. In the postmodern electronic world the truth is often called into question. Curiously, one now finds that books are a safer reference source. With the reproductions printed in books the biggest errors are usually in the colors.

13.

George

August 2, 2005, 6:35 PM

Last night's lost comment. I write here as an exercise, because there are some vexing issues which I'm trying to think my way through. It's an exercise, I don't ever intend to take up philosophy but I like these arguments which keep me on my toes. I don't read theory any more, I decided if I couldn't reason something out for myself, it was because either I wasn't interested or that it made no sense. The postmodern dialogue does make some sense to me, I do think we are living in a era which has made a discontinuous break from the past. This is an historically rare event which creates a degree of confusion in how one establishes a world view. So contrary to some here I believe the general stance suggesting a shift from the modern to the postmodern is absolutely correct. Where I have difficulty with the philosophical arguments is in their structures which are entropic.

I am convinced that a valid futurist philosophy must be structurally syntropic. This suggests that rigorous deconstructive practices, while technically valid, are primarily only addressing the details and do not lead the way to a positive conclusion for socio-cultural ordering.

It seems to me that, as an intellectual exercise, a continuing examination of these issues potentially has an incremental positive value by broadening the scope of our world view. On the other hand there is good old intuition…

14.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 6:45 PM

I for one can't take the 'discontinous break from the past' any more seriously now then all the other times in history that we have supposedly made a break from all that had come before. Talk of 'post-911 realities' and falderal of that sort don't hold any water when the topic is art.

15.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:53 PM

Good old intuition and good old muddling through the day, just like we all do.

George, everybody thinks they are living in an era which has "broken with the past". People thought it a hundred years ago way more than even now.

"Truth" is always being called into question, but we are making a damn fetish out of it, making a big deal out of it, as if this was something new and marvellous and deep. We should just deal with it and leave it at that.

And we keep using these great cosmic terms as if they actuallly mean something specific, "postmodernism does this" "Postmodernism does that". I feel like I am swimming in soup. We need specificity here.

16.

mek

August 2, 2005, 6:55 PM

don't worry oldpro #8. I have a lot to say. however my time here is intermittent. my artblog hat is only worn periodically as other hats take precedense.

BRAVO george #9, and 13

i fully intend to comment later,
mek

17.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:55 PM

Matty, you are beginning to freak me out.

18.

George

August 2, 2005, 7:08 PM

George, everybody thinks they are living in an era which has "broken with the past". People thought it a hundred years ago way more than even now. #15

Well yes and no. No, to the generic "everybody thinks" comment. Yes to 100 years ago, with the advent of the industrial revolution and the Modern Age.

This is a break with the past as significant as the industrial revolution, everything between now and then was just the normal surprise of the new. It is occurring in all fields of endeavor and it is a direct result of the rapidly increasing pace of events in communications, travel, commerce, finance etc. Op may find this financial article interesting.

19.

Franklin

August 2, 2005, 7:52 PM

I think what is it? came up as soon as the first Neanderthal looked up at the sky. I don't have a problem that pursuit giving rise to pomo, but it's hardly the apotheosis of that inquiry. If anything, I see evidence that pomo stalled that inquiry, and now presumes bad spirits in the unbelievers.

More later.

20.

George

August 2, 2005, 7:52 PM

these great cosmic terms? Who me?

Like it or not I think we are in a new era. This does not mean we must accept or like a new philosophy, philosophies come and go, we are all free to choose. Rather than argue these issues abstractly why don't we just look at the art involved and take it from there?

I'm no expert but I suppose we could start with Pop Art, Warhol, Rosenquist, Rauchenberg, Oldenberg, Lichtenstein, Johns, Hamilton, and Dine. I think the general opinion is that Pop Art is postmodern, so where are the flaws?

21.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 7:54 PM

Golly, George, 100 years ago was hardly the "advent of the industrial revolution".

I will read the article, but the first word I spied was "epoch", and my heart sank. And at any given time in the history of the world at least 3.5 financial writers are forecasting "the end of the world as we know it".

We have more information available to use more quickly than before, which is great, but this does not exacly amount to superspeedup. I'm sorry "rapidly increasing pace of events" is something I have heard for so long it failes to impress me much.

22.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 7:57 PM

Pop Art is just a way to rationalize dumbdown esthetics and make sure there is plenty of approved art to sell, that's all. That has been going on for a couple hundred years, at least. What does it have to do with anything?

23.

George

August 2, 2005, 8:12 PM

Op, sorry to hear you suffer from word allergies, have you tried the homeopathic cure?

Re industrial revolution, ok, I knew you would say that. Substitute "well before I was born..."

The financial article is not gloom and doom, to the contrary it takes in the current world events for a fairly sound analysis of the current situation.

The speed up is there, we are getting accustomed to the pace.

24.

George

August 2, 2005, 8:17 PM

Pop Art is just a way to rationalize dumbdown esthetics and make sure there is plenty of approved art to sell, that's all.

Ok what happened here, how did the aesthetics get dumbdowned? How is this any different from a Noland stripe painting, or an Olitski spray painting or Stella's stripes. You are making a broad swath claim which is not supported by the facts.
It is this kind of whitewash argument which gets us nowhere.

25.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 8:22 PM

Word allergies?

Do you want me to explain how Olitski and Noland are different from Pop Art?

26.

George

August 2, 2005, 8:25 PM

Olitski and Noland? Just more of that 60's dumbdowned aesthetic.

27.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 8:29 PM

If that's your opinion, fine.

What was it we were talking about, exactly?

28.

Hovig

August 2, 2005, 8:38 PM

Franklin - If the Neanderthals swam or built watercraft, it would be a stretch to say it had anything to do with Magellan. Perhaps the idea of "what is it" is more rich than I'm linguistically capable of adequately expressing. Whether postmodernism is killing the idea that begat it is not for me to say.

I'm squarely with George in believing the world of image-making changed permanently in the early 1960s, the years Greenberg himself said to his final days were the last any good art was made (with the exception of one artist whose name is familiar to the regulars here).

This has nothing to do with Oldpro's apparent implication that I want to claim my time is better or different than the past -- Handel is my favorite opera composer, for Pete's sake -- but only my personal observations that art since the early 60s is extremely different than what came before, and also my "gut feeling" about it all.

Oldpro, you may be right that as the world's culture's meld, postmodernism may lose its raison d'etre, but I don't think so. I think the era of the caption is here for a while.

Franklin, if you want to think of the question "what is it" more closely to the way I do, think of it in terms of the captioned image. We live in a captioned era, where we not only expect the caption but demand it. In that sense, I don't think the genie can be put back in the bottle.

I think we've had three periods in art: iconic, aesthetic, and postmodern. Call the third period "captioned" if you want. Call it the Era of the Wall Text if you want. Whether this is good or bad I won't argue. I don't know or care. I'm just trying to understand.

Also don't ask me for proof. This is just what my gut tells me. Someday in the future we'll hopefully know more. To follow the Bertrand Russell quote above with another: "I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong."

29.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 8:50 PM

Gee, Hovig, you just gave me a laundry list to work through.

1. Greenberg never said that the early 1960s were the last time any good art was made with the exception of one artist, whoever that is. Never said it.

2. I never said or implied that your time was better than the past. Is that what you said I said? And of course now it's different from the early 60s.

3. I never said anything about Postmodernism losing anything as "cultures meld", whatever that means.

And I didn't quite understand what it was your "gut" told you. That there are three periods in art histoty?

30.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 8:58 PM

One of the central questions that Franklin seems to raise is whether art that is the result of injustice should be judged negatively because of that injustice. If it's pomo to say 'yes', then maybe i'm pomo... Art may be good or not regardless of anything else, but if my culture made art while exploiting other people, and modern people of those other cultures were questioning its value, i think that my adamant defense of it, while ignoring its context, would be, um, yeah, racist.

Most art was made under a sexist society. That is probably partially because of human nature. Still, when looking at Manet's work, someone who points out that had Manet been a woman we'd never see the work is NOT NOT NOT merely slinging shit. It takes nothing from the aesthetic value of the work, but it takes away from the work nonetheless. To claim otherwise? Yep . . . that's sexist.

I was born in Europe, so in no way are my ancestors in any way responsible for slavery in American history. But I recognize that there are jokes that African-Americans can make about the subject that would be vastly inappropriate for me to make. The suggestion that the fact that your "first two girlfriends were shades of coffee" somehow has a bearing on this conversation suggests a lack of this sort of sensitivity.

If I thought Chris Ofili's paintings were shit, I would say so. But I would think about it a beat longer then I'd think before declaring Damien Hirst's work shit.

Worse you have somehow bent her comments into a catchall excuse to dismiss one prevailing philosophical position, with which you disagree, and using an argument to her response to validate your position. This is not a very rigorous way to initiate a dialog on an already obfuscated topic.

In close, I second George's statement, above.

Also, pondering this, I notice more good T-shirt slogans:

> NO ADS. NO OUTING. MAKE SENSE.

> ADDRESS THE WRITING, NOT THE WRITER.

> ADVANCE THE CONVERSATION.

> ASSUME COMMUNITY.

> MAKE FRANKLIN HAPPY.

The last is still my favorite.

ps Refering to the original post while writing this, I accidentally hit an unknown sequence of keys that revealed Artblog CSS in a new tab. Way cool.

31.

George

August 2, 2005, 9:00 PM

Here are two paintings, a J. Johns Target and a Kenneth Noland Target So where is the aesthetic being diluted here?

32.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:13 PM

I have seen both pictures and I think the Noland far superior.

I don't know if one can "dilute" and "esthetic". I was saying that pop art was a vehicle for rationalizing inferior art for the market. As you indicate, this is a "broad swath" statement. It is my opinion.

Alesh, so before you make any judgement about any art you have to throughly determine what the entire history of the piece is, right? Does it have to be art made through an unjust act? Used for injustice? Out of an unjust culture? If an African mask was used to frighten members of another tribe while subjugating them, for example, that would make it a not so good work of art?

This sure makes it tough to lkook at art anymore.

33.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 9:19 PM

It is impossible to know everything about a piece. But if you have the information, it would be silly to pretend that it didn't exist.

34.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:21 PM

So, in other words, you withhold judgement on just about every work of art you see?

35.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 9:23 PM

nevermind artwork . . . all of my judgements are tentative, and subject to change in the event of new information. kind of like your tentative judgments of jpegs of paintings?

36.

George

August 2, 2005, 9:27 PM

Re: Noland vs Johns targets.

It appears that this is all boiling down to personal taste. A concept that "good" art is actually nothing more thanan endless parade gooey sugary abstract decoration executed according to a formula set down by a critic whose time has long passed. I just don't buy it.

37.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:29 PM

Oh, sure, withholding judgement on a work of art you can't see in person, makes sense. But we are not talking about that, are we?

You are straight out saying that you cannot make a judgement on virtually any work of art if you do not know the entire hisrtory.

Tell me, if the culture is really really unjust, does that take more points off the art than one that is just a little unjust?

38.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:31 PM

George, resorting to rancor and put-down does not strengthen any argument you may have had.

My problem was that I could not determine that you had one in the first place.

39.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 9:33 PM

nonono . . . you can make all sorts of judgements at any given point.

what i am really saying is that all judgements we, or, um I make, are ultimately subject to change on the basis of other information.

40.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:36 PM

Well, maybe not all, Alesh.

If a Truck is bearing down on you you don't wait until it hits you to determine that it will hit you, do you? And once you sensibly jump out of the way, that judgement, like most judgements we make, is all over, isn't it?

And were't we talking about art?

41.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 9:48 PM

OP and Alesh standing in front of Vermeer

OP: Do you like it?

A: I don't know

OP: Oh, you want to see it again, then?

A: No I want to find out of those Dutch people were mean to those Chinese who made the nice bowl in the picture.

OP: Oh, I see. That would make the picture less good then?

A: You bet.

OP: So it they weren't mean to them then you would like the pikcture?

A: Well, maybe. I would have to find out if Vermeer was nice to that model.

OP: Or if he cheated the patron who bought the painting

A: exaclty.

OP: Well, I guess it is hard to get much out of the painting then, Isn't it?

A: Well yes, But I do a hell of a lot of great research.

42.

mek

August 2, 2005, 9:51 PM

you are diluting the argument oldpro

43.

George

August 2, 2005, 9:51 PM

Putdown? I'm just making a taste judgement.
You dismissed Pop Art out of hand. Tell me someone, did CG champion any contemporary figurative artists (artists using images?)

I was a "kid artist" at the time Noland, Olitski and Poons came on the scene, they were all my early heroes. What started off as a fresh and Pop abstract aesthetic didn't hold up well over time, because the only compelling aspect of these works was their decorativeness. Pretty paintings. Chinese food, two hours later you are still hungary.

I think it is just as big a putdown to dismiss Pop Art as if these artists had no aesthetic vision, it is just not true. Look at the body of work produced by Lichtenstein, are we to dismiss his work as a "dumbdown aesthetic", a lack of ambition towards greatness? From a taste standpoint you might say yes, but not in art historical terms. One of Greenberg's failures was his inability to deal with Pop Art because he was elitist.

44.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 9:54 PM

eek!! I've accidentally proved my own point about the textile thing... let me close this fucking tag so I can think

there, much better(?)

Oldpro~ your make-believe conversation is just that - putting words in my mouth. some sort of red-herring argument that makes me wonder whether you want to discuss this seriously. more in a sec....

45.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 9:57 PM

ok I have thunk.

i'd have an opinion on Vermeer but i'd not be married to it. if you want to know the truth, i'm pretty stubborn with my opinions in reality, but yes, circumstances have sway. Still, i'm not saying outside factors can make a good piece of art bad, just that they're not irrelevant.

maybe when people who disagree with you "get their asses handed to them" it's because extremist positions are always easier to defend?

46.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:01 PM

There you go again, Alesh.

What extremist position?

47.

George

August 2, 2005, 10:04 PM

Backing up a bit on the decorative art chinese food rant.

As always there are works, regardless of style, which are sublime. Sublime is always good.

48.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:13 PM

You were not making a taste judgement as such, George, you were characterizing the art with derogatory words. That isn't a big deal, but please just let me say this: dismissing art because it is "decorative" is just not a good idea.

Matisse was "decorative" for a generation until the weight of his greatness just pushed that opinion away.. "Decorative" is not a reason for art to be bad any more than "meaningful" or "powerful" or "figurative" is a reason for it to be good. If you do not like the art just leave it at that.

Greenberg was indeed elitist. He only went for the best. And he preferred figurative art. I think I discussed that recently, at a time when you were reading the blog. The reason he praised so few figurative contemporary artists was because he did not think they are much good. He was very fond of Horatio Torres's work, however.

49.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 10:14 PM

saying that before I'd make up my mind about a vermeer, i'd say "I want to find out of those Dutch people were mean to those Chinese who made the nice bowl in the picture."

duh?

50.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:15 PM

And sublime is always good if sublime means "good".

Round and round we go.

51.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:17 PM

Duh, Alesh?

Now there's a dynamite rejoinder!

52.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 10:17 PM

oh, i see . . . i didn't mean your position was extreme! i meant you were painting my position as being more extreme then it is.

i believe it's called a red herring?

53.

George

August 2, 2005, 10:26 PM

Sublime (From Wiki:)
The sublime (from the Latin sublimis (exalted)), refers in aesthetics to the quality of transcendent greatness, whether physical, moral,
intellectual or artistic. The term especially references a greatness with which nothing else can be compared and which is beyond all
possibility of calculation or measurement.

Good
acceptable, ace, admirable, agreeable, bad, bully, capital, choice, commendable, congenial, crack, deluxe, excellent, exceptional, favorable, first-class, first-rate, gnarly, gratifying, great, honorable, marvelous, neato, nice, pleasing, positive, precious, prime, rad, recherché, reputable, satisfactory, satisfying, select, shipshape, sound, spanking, splendid, sterling, stupendous, super, superb, supereminent, superexcellent, superior, tip-top, valuable, welcome, wonderful, worthy

54.

George

August 2, 2005, 10:27 PM

oops!

I disagree, I was making a taste judgement, I explicitly said "I don't buy it" meaning I'm not convinced.

Sublime and good are not the same.

Sublime (From Wiki:)
The sublime (from the Latin sublimis (exalted)), refers in aesthetics to the quality of transcendent greatness, whether physical, moral,
intellectual or artistic. The term especially references a greatness with which nothing else can be compared and which is beyond all
possibility of calculation or measurement.

Good
acceptable, ace, admirable, agreeable, bad, bully, capital, choice, commendable, congenial, crack, deluxe, excellent, exceptional, favorable, first-class, first-rate, gnarly, gratifying, great, honorable, marvelous, neato, nice, pleasing, positive, precious, prime, rad, recherché, reputable, satisfactory, satisfying, select, shipshape, sound, spanking, splendid, sterling, stupendous, super, superb, supereminent, superexcellent, superior, tip-top, valuable, welcome, wonderful, worthy

55.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:32 PM

This is not going anywhere.

When you said "extremist" position you were generalizing it, indicating that it was a characteristic of mine - "when people disagree with you". Now you are saying I was specifically referring to your position. It doesn't jibe, Alesh.

A "red herring" is a deliberate distraction. I don't get the application here.

Good lord, George, so sublime means good but not quite exactly. Aargh!

56.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:33 PM

Unless there are other vital signs i will assume we have trampled this one to death.

57.

George

August 2, 2005, 10:38 PM

Op, no no.

Sublime is a good quality.
In a painting, being sublime, is way beyond just being good.

58.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 10:40 PM

see your post #41, Oldpro . . . that would be the red herring.

59.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:45 PM

PLEASE George!

You said "Sublime is always good". Yes, it is.

Now you say sublime is way beyond being good. Yes it is.

I indicated that this was a tautology ("round and round we go") because if it is sublime, it MUST be good.

That IS a tautology.

Case closed.

I am getting a headache.

60.

George

August 2, 2005, 10:47 PM

Darn it no

Sublime is always good

Good is not always sublime

There is a difference

61.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:47 PM

Distracting, maybe, because it is in the form of a "playlet", but completely to the point, so not a red herring. OK?

62.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 10:47 PM

all that is sublime is good, but not all that is good is sublime.

what's complicated about that?

63.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:52 PM

George, OF COURSE they are "different", I never said they were not DIFFERENT, I just said that if something is SUBLIME it must also be GOOD so your statement was a TAUTOLOGY. Yaaghhh!

If you are just doing this to torture me, it is working.

Anything else Alesh?

64.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 10:52 PM

you are grossly exaggerating my position in your little "playlet," so, no, not OK. If you understand my postion and want to debate it, fine. If not, you can either drop it, argue it on its merits, or engage in fallacies. #41 is the last of the three.

Which, BTW, is what makes simple little things like this drag on. Don't do that and then make exasperated comments about how a discussion is being trampled to death...

65.

Franklin

August 2, 2005, 10:53 PM

#3, Mek: after Kathleen effectively called me a racist, you voiced your appreciation for her contribution to the blog. Today I challenge her comments, and you "wonder about the nature of this blog." I look forward to your addressing this when you return.

#4, Hovig: Economics, politics and aesthetics are the study of human behavior. As such, human behavior is all these things by definition.

No, these are filters through which one can view human behavior. I'm saying that human behavior itself is not reducible to any one of these things or any other.

...you and Kathleen are both right. No, I'm right. Like you, I'm saying it's both. She's saying it's only the former.

I think the What is this? angle is overstated. The whole point of modernism was the self-critique of the object, asking what painting or whatnot really was, essentially.

#5: Matty, that Star Wars version of art history was funny.

#9, George: You are responding to Kathleen comments as they were a source of postmodern discourse. No, just a handy example that hit on some big issues. I've seen the same phenomena elsewhere.

Worse you have somehow bent her comments into a catchall excuse to dismiss one prevailing philosophical position, with which you disagree, and using an argument to her response to validate your position.

Somehow? Here's how: her comments put forth a number of points that cannot be true and others that are indefensable leaps of belief. I showed why. I did not advance a position of my own, except my opinion that hers is incorrect.

#13, George: It seems to me that, as an intellectual exercise, a continuing examination of these issues potentially has an incremental positive value by broadening the scope of our world view. On the other hand there is good old intuition… I agree on both points.

#28, Hovig: I like the iconic, aesthetic, and captioned taxonomy.

#30, Alesh: when looking at Manet's work, someone who points out that had Manet been a woman we'd never see the work is NOT NOT NOT merely slinging shit. It takes nothing from the aesthetic value of the work, but it takes away from the work nonetheless. I agree that it takes nothing from the aesthetic value. Kathleen's comment indicates that it does, and I insist that the taint is on history.

The suggestion that the fact that your "first two girlfriends were shades of coffee" somehow has a bearing on this conversation suggests a lack of this sort of sensitivity.

I disagree, but the point isn't germane: we were discussing the possibility that I hold "an ethnocentric, self-important view... intoxicated by privilege." I was illustrating that no personal history would ever be adequate to refute such a claim, because it was decided a piori and any contrary evidence could be bent to support the charge. The language I used to do so was parody but it was far from outlandish. It might even have been excessively clear.

I'm glad to see my guidelines repeated, and I want to point out here that I have said nothing about Kathleen personally, with the mild exception of the bit about open-mindedness in the original post, and even that I can reference back to #77 here. Everything else above has been directed squarely at her remarks.

66.

ms quoted

August 2, 2005, 10:57 PM

oooooo alesh slaps oldpro's hand...how exciting!

67.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 10:57 PM

Exaggerating to pretty good effect, Alesh. You are the one who put your foot in it. All I did is take precisely what you said to logical but not unrealistic extremes.

A person who argues that the quality of a work of art depends of the virtue of the culture it comes from is the one who has to make a case.

68.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 11:02 PM

yes, oldpro, your exaggeration was to great effect. if you say so yourself.

whatever. i'm going to sleep.

fraknlin~ my repeating of your guidelines (which we are pointedly reminded of every time we post a comment) was not intended to imply that you were not following them yourself. I was merely struck by how good they'd be, broken out that particular way, on individual t-shirts.

No, I'm right. Like you, I'm saying it's both. She's saying it's only the former.

are you sure?

69.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 11:04 PM

Good advice, Alesh. I will too.

70.

George

August 2, 2005, 11:04 PM

1. It depends on the conflation of categories, but it is extremely selective about which categories conflate and which supposedly don't.
Give me a contemporary art example of this so I know what you mean.

2. It subordinates all concerns to political and economic ones, as if politics and economics were the underlying basis of all human activity.
ditto, an art example

3. Reason and facts serve it poorly, so it relies on belief and guilt, like a religion.
ditto

I think this is just generalized ranting in response to Kathleen. As such you cannot gerenalize a point from such a specific starting place. This in itself may be a failing of the PM philosophy but you are not helping the issue.

71.

Franklin

August 2, 2005, 11:05 PM

are you sure?

Here it is: "That painting which depicts Chinese porcelain is showing the affluence of the Dutch household, not Dutch appreciation for other cultures."

I'm sure.

72.

alesh

August 2, 2005, 11:13 PM

well, ok franklin.

to me it looks like a very big hat hanging from a very small hook. Maybe pomo'ists say stuff like this all the time and mean exactly what they say, but reading Kathleen's original post in its entirety, to me this particular interpertation seems like a stretch.

I suppose you're right to question it if you disagree, but boy, Kathleen sure has been taken to task quite a bit for little inferences in her comments around here lately, right?

interesting.

73.

Elizabeth

August 2, 2005, 11:27 PM

Matty;re;#5, you totally crack me up....I love Canadian humour ...heres my two allowed haha's...(Franklin asked me to contain myself)

74.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 11:34 PM

Alesh, Kathleen is not being singled out, the Postmodernist positions she put forward at some length are.

75.

Franklin

August 2, 2005, 11:37 PM

George: Example 2 I have handy. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow.

Alesh: Little inferences, eh? Are you sure?

76.

Elizabeth

August 2, 2005, 11:39 PM

Matty; Oldpro must be Obiwanpro.........what do u think??

77.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 11:59 PM

I don't think I am telling him anything, Elizabeth. We seem to be saying the same thing simultaneously. it's weird.

78.

Hovig

August 3, 2005, 12:03 AM

Oldpro [#29],

You told George: everybody thinks they are living in an era which has "broken with the past," which is a clear warning not to consider one's own time and place special.

To answer your question about my "gut," I simply have an intuitive sense that the history of art changed during the 60s, which is why I labeled it a "captioned" era. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's what I think.

You told me: Cultures are getting rapidly zapped, not encouraged or better appreciated by all this multiculturalism. It is not prompting "what is it", it is prompting "why is everything becoming the same". You seem to think we are trending toward a single culture. Maybe I wrongly attributed to you the view that postmodernism would burn out on its own. For the record, is that your view?

It was my impression that Greenberg stated during the late 80s or early 90s that no art of great value had been created since the 60s, but also that he was a supporter of Jules Olitski's work during this same period. If I've gotten this wrong, I'll retract it.

Franklin [#65],

Thanks for the clarifications.

My whole "What is it?" comment was written as much for dramatic effect as anything else. I still stand by it, but I know what you're saying. I'll revise it for my thesis defense.

Can I ask you about the term "self-critique"? I never understood this concept as it's been expressed on this blog. I always thought postmodernism was as self-critical as possible -- questioning [at least in theory] the basis for everything, including itself -- so I didn't understand this notion as applied to modernism.

But now I think it means "self-contained" and perhaps "self-referencing," or in other words, containing nothing outside its four pigment-painted edges, not even mimesis ("illustration"). Would "self-critical" mean not only that the work can be read without a caption, but it demands as much?

79.

Hovig

August 3, 2005, 12:09 AM

P.S. When I said "a captioned era" above, I meant to say "the point at which an aesthetic era became a captioned era." I didn't mean to imply that the 60s were an era to themselves, but rather the beginning of a new era.

80.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 12:35 AM

Hovig:

Our time and place is special. All times and places are, I suppose. I just do not think we have "broken with the past".

I think there is a lot of evidence that there is ongoing worldwide cultural homogenization. I am not about to try to prove it, especially at 12:30 AM.

Greenberg thought Olitski was a great artist. He did not say there was no great art made after the 1960s. (You said "early 60s" before).

I have said on this blog that I don't think any great artists have "emerged" (I use that word advisedly) since the 1970s. He may or may not have agreed with that.

81.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 12:40 AM

Oh, I see you asked me if my position was that Postmodernism would "burn out on its own". I don't remember saying this, but I would say, yes, I think it will. This is hard to support, given that we have never even defined it.

82.

catfish

August 3, 2005, 9:44 AM

oldpro says in #81 that postmodernism will burn out on its own. Everything burns out on its own. The French Academy went on long after the Impressionists appeared, for instance - it wasn't the Impressionists that killed it. Nothing is forever.

That said, I am preplexed that those who find pomo lacking in successful art bother so much to discuss it. Myself I've hated pomo from its beginnings, and Duchamp long before that. I went through a period of wanting to destroy them with words (it didn't work), which I guess is natural enough. But the wisest path appears to be to ignore all of it. Pomo-academic-duchamp-juniors absolutely depend upon howling objections for their viability. If Piss Christ had no objectors whatsoever, it never would have gotten any visibility.

If everyone with serious ambition for art would say nothing about pomo, it would wither like a plant withot water.

On a smaller scale, within this blog: If every comment about pomo went unanswered, they would disappear.

83.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 10:15 AM

What I've found shocking, and honestly even amusing, is how seriously people take this argument. There is genuine hostility between the modernists and postmodernists. Or at least there was; I think this whole argument is more then 30 years old.

84.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 10:23 AM

It is more complicated than that, Catfish.

Every half-assed, benighted comment on this blog, whether Postmodernist or not, gets mixed up and confused with Postmodernism. This is one of the resons no one can define it - it really is not a coherent philosophy, it is a general attitude that encompasses and rationalizes a lot of baser human attributes that people do not want to name for what they are: laziness, stupidity, corrupted motivation, self-indulgence, passivity, gimmickry, faddism, going with the crowd, and such like.

As I mentioned above, Kathleen is one of the very few to actually set forth a PM viewpoint. Avoiding discussion of PM here would amount to avoiding the word itself and little more.

Furthermore, PM is fundamentally dim-witted, and the art made in its name is silly. If we didn't talk about it we might be loftier and more serious, but we would not have half as much fun.

85.

Hovig

August 3, 2005, 10:25 AM

Oldpro and Catfish,

Let me rephrase the question a bit more narrowly. Oldpro originally said we are experiencing what he later reiterated as "ongoing worldwide cultural homogenization."

If one of pomo's reasons-for-being is cross-cultural examination, then as we experience "ongoing worldwide cultural homogenization," will pomo's popularity decline as a result? Is pomo's popularity directly related to the fact that there are cultural differences to act as grist for the philosophical mill? I think it might, but I could also see why it wouldn't.

I've said above that I think one of pomo's pillars is cross-cultural examination. Others are the west's intellectual curiosity and geographic need to explore, the west's focus on increasingly mimetic art (more accurate illustrations at first, photography eventually) and its development of intercontinental travel (sea travel at first, air travel eventually).

So I'm wondering if the homogenization of cultures is enough to affect pomo. Personally I'm not sure, because I think pomo has expressed itself in the art world as a new age of "captions" -- in this sense I think there has been a break from the past -- and I don't know if the idea of captions (e.g., wall texts) is too strong to break pomo.

Alesh,

If my opinion above has any chance of being true, I think the hostility between modernists and postmodernists is based precisely on this idea of captions. Modernism says a work of art should stand on its own, with no referents whatsoever beyond what's physically contained within its own four edges. Postmodernism says the exact polar opposite: that no work can possibly stand on its own; we always need to carry the context for that work along-side, to inform any viewer that may not be familiar with the conditions under which the image was created.

86.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 10:25 AM

You are right Alesh, but if you see it not as a matter of postmodernism vs whatever you can see it as an argument that goes back at least through the beginnings of Modernism. Postmodernism is just the current name we use.

87.

pldpro

August 3, 2005, 10:53 AM

Hovig,when you speak of a "pillar of Postmodernism" you speak of it as a mighty edifice, but it really is just a swirling cloud of attitudes and wishful thinking which can adapt to just about anything. The homogenization of culture is just a social process which moves at a deliberate pace. I don't see that there is a vital relationship. it is all too soupy.

You can call it "captions" if you like, but it really is the age-old "but what does it mean" all over again in a different guise and a different name.

As you said, PM declares:
"... that no work can possibly stand on its own; we always need to carry the context for that work along-side, to inform any viewer that may not be familiar with the conditions under which the image was created."

Well, I would say, OK, PM probably does hold to something like that, but of course this is basically a static, academic attitude which in a sense goes without saying because we all have to go through some kind of acculturation to get into art. If you are teaching 101 survey art history this might be helpful, but only insofar as you would like people to be able to see the work on its own, because it is the art, and not the baggage, that the art is there for.

PM tries to turn this around. That's is the basic problem with it.

88.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 11:03 AM

George, I think I owe you an apology. That finacial paper you referred me to is not only interesting but says something much like what I said earlier, about how attitudes and beliefs, moving and changing slowly, precede the larger, more visible "historical" changes. thanks.

89.

catfish

August 3, 2005, 12:11 PM

It is not more complicated than that, oldpro.

Just about every time in my long life that someone has asked me to "explain what your work means" it has been because they don't like it, even if they are friends and actually wish they could like it. Words have never made a difference, even if the quesitoner says they did. Don't ask me to prove this, I can simply tell. What they "like" is the explaination, not the work.

Pomo requires that art explain itself - simplistic AND "lofty" is preferred, judged according to what the herd thinking of the moment lists as the right "issues". What is liked are the words .The object, if there is an object, is liked only insofar as it illustrates the words. Without words it dies.

If every "half-assed, benighted comment" (whether explicitly pomo or just implicitly so) were ignored, they would disappear too. They are not disappearing under the current strategy.

If behavioral psychologists are right, ignoring the remarks would intitally bring about an increase, which is called an "extinction burst", but extinction would be the final result. People detest being shunned.

It would require discipline to bring it off, including your giving up whatever fun you derive from using what those folks write as a punching bag. Unfortunately, few groups possess the discipline required to clear their ranks of idiots. Art-talkers are among the least disciplined.

But it really is that simple. Shun them and they will go away.

90.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 12:25 PM

But Catfish, now you are saying something else, or at least what amounts to something else. Now you are saying that we literally must not answer any stupid comment on this blog.

Well, hell...that would shut the blog down. My self-discipline does not extend to limiting fun. There is little enough of that already.

91.

Jack

August 3, 2005, 12:37 PM

Catfish, you must allow Oldpro to let the lawyer in him come out and argue to his heart's content. I, however, tend to agree with you on this one, certainly in principle.

92.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 12:56 PM

Somehow I knew you would agree with Catfish, Jack.

Problem is, this severely limits comments from both of you. Too bad.

93.

Franklin

August 3, 2005, 1:21 PM

If behavioral psychologists are right, ignoring the remarks would intitally bring about an increase, which is called an "extinction burst", but extinction would be the final result. People detest being shunned.

Catfish's comment reminds me of my well-intentioned but short-lived self-imposed no bitching dictum. The nonsense probably wouldn't disappear, because a lot of people think it legitimate, but at least we wouldn't be prolonging its life, and in some sense it would disappear from our lives. That's something.

94.

craigfrancis

August 3, 2005, 1:55 PM

i don't think ethnocentric really means racist, but it doesn't really matter. i think we're all racist and sexist and generally despicable anyway. but then again, i was raised a Catholic.

if you want to "look fair and square at the world" or whatever, i think that's just great. you should start by looking in the mirror. change starts at home, the personal is political etc., etc., etc., we should all be aware of our position of privelage so that the various holocausts of the past aren't repeated. I (as a straight white middle class male) am in an incredible position of power no matter how many coffee coloured girls i've dated or how many guys i've jacked off in public washrooms.

am i even making any fucking sense at all?

in art, modernism sucked because it was generally unjust in what it celebrated. taste was the tool by which one straight white man could tell you how brilliant an artist this other straight white man was. (please forgive my gross over simplification, i'm on a lot of drugs for the flu).

postmodernism sucked (past tense) because it substituted one horrible system for another in art production: take A (political discourse) add B (correct media (that is video, performance or whatever) with an art historical referant) equals C (good postmodern art).

anyway, my point is, both movements have become totally reprehensible, and good riddance to them both.

peace out.

95.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 1:58 PM

Franklin, what I really think would happen is that the blog would fill up wth those drive-by shooters whining and kvetching and using the F word all the time and you would get sick of the whole thing.

96.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 2:00 PM

Better get over the flu, Craig.

97.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:01 PM

Alesh post #33
It is impossible to know everything about a piece. But if you have the information, it would be silly to pretend that it didn't exist.

Yes and no.

Yes, it is impossible to know everything about a piece (or, even with a caption, wall text whatever, possibly difficult to know if that text speaks the truth about the piece, or has anything meaningfully relevant to say). But, if art history is your field, then all details about the work (Was the cotton canvas the product of slave labour?) might be of scholarly interest.
But...
No, it would NOT be silly to pretend you didn't have the info (or to choose not to read the wall text, or give it any weight even if you do read it). This is what people who like art do all the time. It is called being disinterested, or to put it another way, as ObiwanPro tells his students, "getting the hell out of the work". This is what is required to appreciate art AS art (as opposed to looking at art as a cultural signifier of one sort or another, which it can also be), for the looker, as well as for the maker. Think of it as critical distance.

Such dispassionate, critical distance would serve all of us well when dealing with art, and when commenting on this blog.

98.

craigfrancis

August 3, 2005, 2:06 PM

OP: thanks. ugh. however, i'm slightly hurt you didn't agree with Kathleen's likening us to an old married couple. i love you man.

99.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:11 PM

Jesus... speaking of reprehensible.
Yes craigfrancis, do come back when you're not so heavily medicated.

Words are wonderful things, but simply deciding to put things "in the past tense" doesn't make it so in reality

Modernism sucks, postmodernism sucks... hmm.. what do you like, CF?.
(then again, what with the sloppy word use, maybe "sucked" is sopposed to be a good thing... who can tell anymore?

Taste is a tool of The Man.. right.

Postmodernism in art is just another (mostly unimportant, culturally speaking) sign of the continuing infantilization of society. It gets spoken of as if it is some sort of deep contemporary philosophy, but it is actaully an abortion of the intellect, a refusal to do the real hard work.

100.

oldpro

August 3, 2005, 2:30 PM

That's sweet of you Craig. But I think it is the flu drugs talking.

101.

craigfrancis

August 3, 2005, 2:30 PM

dear matty:

what is wrong with you? lighten up.

102.

alesh

August 3, 2005, 2:35 PM

funny... i agree with Cragifrancis in #94, but I also agree with Matty in #97 (not 99).

103.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:45 PM

That is funny... what part of #99 don't you agree with, Alesh?

104.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:46 PM

Craig, nothing's wrong, but thanks for asking.

Lighten up? I don't get it. Were my comments "heavier" than yours in some way? Please explain.

105.

craigfrancis

August 3, 2005, 2:49 PM

uh... (smiling and nodding) no?

106.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:51 PM

It takes some kinda mind to turn the word 'um, no' into a question.

... or does it?

107.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 2:52 PM

Either add meaningfully to the discussion, or don't. The choice is available to all of us, equally.

108.

craigfrancis

August 3, 2005, 3:52 PM

(sigh)

sure matty. okay. i've decided i'll have to ignore your spasming from now on, given that you a) attack my most innocuous remarks or b) resort to personal attack. (see the blog a couple of days ago, or today for that matter). that's what was meant by lightening up. "taste is a tool of The Man" you say... fine. whatever. if you insist on putting words in my mouth, so be it, but it's not inaccurate to say that postmodernism sprung up out of an urge to examine structures of power in the art world and elsewhere. that's all i said.

i'd be much more inclined to talk about what work i liked with you if i didn't think it would just lead to you trying to prove you have a bigger dick than i do. the history of this blog has been marked by one group attacking "postmodern art" and another group reluctantly saying it's not as shitty or vacuous as the first group claims. it's not something i'm interested in doing with you.

have a nice day.

109.

Matty

August 3, 2005, 9:17 PM

Nothing says drama better than a typewritten sigh.

I hate to disappoint you craigfrancis, but regardless of the irrelevant size of my dick, I can assure you that I have no interest in putting anything in your mouth. Sorry.

This is how it works: you write your thoughts, we critically examine them. We write our thoughts, you critically examine them. Repeat.
Go ahead. Try it. It's not really that hard. Honest.

For instance, when you wrote:
taste was the tool by which one straight white man could tell you how brilliant an artist this other straight white man was. (please forgive my gross over simplification, i'm on a lot of drugs for the flu).

In response, I wrote:
Taste is a tool of The Man.. right.

Unfortunately, to that, you responded with
what is wrong with you? lighten up

and, later, after I wouldn't let you off the hook,
"taste is a tool of The Man" you say... fine. whatever. if you insist on putting words in my mouth, so be it,...

If you (or, anyone else) can explain how that was putting words in your mouth, and can do so WITHOUT simply pouting about the fact that I'm a meanie, then please do so.

If there's something else in my COMMENTS that you take issue with, then come out with it, don't just take your ball and go home.

(sigh)

110.

mek

August 3, 2005, 10:10 PM

lighten up matty

111.

George

August 3, 2005, 10:35 PM

All this ism-schism. Gee wiz.

My painter friend and I, like to play a game over a nice bottle of French Bordeaux. I call it "A Pile - B Pile" We pick a movement, and then go through all the artists and put them in the A pile or the B pile. We are nice, believing that any artist who can stick with it through a lifetime deserves respect, so we have no C pile.

What's interesting about this exercise is how few artists there are in the A pile. For example, yesterday I listed out the A list of Pop Artists (#20) as Warhol, Rosenquist, Rauchenberg, Oldenberg, Lichtenstein, Johns, Hamilton, and Dine. That's 8 people being generous classifying Rauchenberg and Johns as pop artists. If you are fair, it's about the same in other categories, there are very few really good artists.

The way I view this game is by asking myself, why is Lichtenstein in the A pile and Indiana in the B pile? What can I learn from this?

It has nothing to do with "isms", really nothing at all. There are those who will tell you Pop Art isn't art, it is not about Pop Art or Plop Art as a style, you cannot exclude works just because they are in a style you think sucks. It's about the art, judged on it's own terms If you cannot deal with the terms then shutup because you make a fool of yourself.

112.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 12:03 AM

Re: mek post#110
lighten up matty

Brilliant. Thanks for the good advice. I'll see what I can do.

113.

Elizabeth

August 4, 2005, 1:48 AM

Matty; for what its worth ...I read all the comments and you dont need to 'lighten up'......you were logical and concise, I dont know why there is such animosity here!!!

114.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 7:22 AM

Elizabeth, hell hath no fury like a Postmodernist burned.

115.

mek

August 4, 2005, 6:11 PM

where is the fury in "lighten up"? and who here classifies themselves as pomo exactly? haven't we all agreed we are beyond that? it is the process of definition that is in question. too many labels and waaay too many fragile egos here.

116.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 6:43 PM

Oh mek, lighten up.

117.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 6:51 PM

Fragile Egos? Fragile egos, mek? What exactly are you reading? The fragile egos are way long gone off this blog. The folks here are battling tooth and nail, commenting through the flak, yakking away recklessly. Every one of them, whether I agree with them or not, has got a pretty strong ego. They would not be here if they didn't.

I think you have to get in touch with reality, kiddo.

118.

ms quoted

August 4, 2005, 7:57 PM

Matty, Maybe 'Lighten Up' means...come to my house for a trad!

119.

mek

August 4, 2005, 10:32 PM

who's reality, oldie?

120.

oldpro

August 5, 2005, 12:15 AM

That's "whose", Mek.

Just simple reality, observing correctly, observing, for example that whatever the several flaws the remaining people on this blog do have, "fragile egos" are not among them. We had a lot of fragile egos at one time and they are gone. That's what i mean, in this instance, anyway.

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