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Post #981 • April 2, 2007, 6:47 PM • 92 Comments

An alert reader sent in yesterday's review of Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont.

Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content.

Ah, good stuff. It was only recently that I realized that my interest in the modernist approach, my interest in libertarianism, and my fondness for science and math (weakly expressed through programming) all joined up in a common intellectual space, the Enlightenment, and that I was (and am) woefully ignorant about it. I owe some of this realization to David Thompson, who comments on art and comic books, and is also much more politically aware than I am. David and I traded some e-mails after this post, in which I wearily promised to fight the good fight against aesthetic and philosphical outrages perpetrated in the name of contemporary art.

With Art/Basel Miami Beach and the College Art Association annual conference now well behind me, my senstitivities have recovered, and I'm feeling a bit more pluck. An article recently appeared in a Miami paper about Marina Abramovic which mentioned:

For The Lips of St. Thomas (1975), Abramovic sat at a table, eating a kilo of honey and a liter of wine, then proceeded to cut a five-point star into her stomach (with a razor blade) and whip herself until her body felt totally numb.

Supergirl commented, I know guys in the Air Force who would do that for a dollar. Well said, my love. I took it to the author's classroom blog, and this conversation ensued:

AT: Don't be fooled by the props and feat; performance art is more about the process, not the result. But because it's about the here and now, in the end, each moment remains as a part of a whole.

FE: AT, just as a thought experiment, I want you imagine saying what you just said to an armed Air Force staff sergeant.

AT: Cool (I laughed). Fortunately, art is not the military.

True enough. In the military, fuzzy thinking can cause unintended death. Actually, most fields wouldn't countenance the kind of things that resemble normalcy in the art world. That's part of its charm. But I nevertheless have an impulse to get those hypothetical military guys in on the conversation. I don't know how, except to say that, yeah, out of its context, the performance above becomes a dumb stunt. It's okay to think that. You guys are badasses capable of feats of endurance that would make Abramovic look like a neurasthenic.

And I want to say to the scientists: Listen, when deranged postmodernists butcher science and math, it's a fringe event. The same thinking is running the show in my world. Come help us out. We need your clarity and honesty. You don't give a bag of beans about the art world - come look at art with us. Some of us really dig what you do. Maybe you'll feel the same.

And I want to say to the artists, maybe all art requires context, but in your labors, think about that military guy who will do any old crazy shit on a dare, and who knows sixteen ways to kill you with his bare hands, and pretend you're explaining your art to him. Just as a thought experiment. Do you sound like an idiot?

And this is a protracted, rambling reply to Jack regarding a comment he's made lately in different forms: that the target audience for my criticisms or those of like-minded people aren't going to heed them. But it's not really for the objects of the criticism. It's not really for anyone. It's worth putting out there because it's right. Whoever is supposed to hook onto it will hook onto it. They lurk about. They ponder. They lurk some more. All the reason, the clarity, and the humanism connect up in the end. We will find each other.




April 2, 2007, 6:53 PM

I also want to let Jack know that I feel his pain about the carpet swatches.



April 2, 2007, 7:05 PM

With all that wine and honey she didn't need a star, she needed a drain.



April 2, 2007, 7:14 PM

Here's my paraphrase of the quoted passage from the linked review:

Suppose you are a would-be artist with no real or significant talent, but with strong ambitions to succeed in the art world, acquire a coterie of avid (and rich) collectors and have assorted art scribes and curators around the world anoint your work with respectful admiration (and the concurrent promotion). What kind of medium and/or style would you cultivate? Not a skill-based one, surely, for your incompetence and manifest inadequacy would expose your lack of talent...

Well, you get the idea. Any connection, real or imagined, to the Abramovic stunt, I mean, performance, is purely coincidental. Far be it from me to impugn such an extravagant exhibition of pretentious, pointless posturing. However, if she wants to perform, I would suggest an off-off-Broadway play based on the Marquis de Sade as being infinitely better suited to her, uh, talents.

Of course, I'm being dreadfully unfair. It's quite probable, if not certain, that Abramovic believes in her work, which dispels any and all objections to the quality thereof. You see? I'm nothing if not reasonable.



April 2, 2007, 7:25 PM

Franklin, save the sympathy and just remove the damn eyesore. What's next, multicolored pieces of particle board? Can't you move one of the icons from the right upper corner to the left one?



April 2, 2007, 7:50 PM

Hmm, science is nice.

Take a gander here

String Theory is Losing the Public Debate is an interesting discussion on the current debate over string theory. (read through the comments as well)

Scroll down a bit to Mmmm … Sacrilicious! for a take on "art".

It would appear that in spite of arguments to the contrary, the postmodernist emperor truly has no clothes. Like I’ve said before it’s D E A D. The current problem is that a replacement, for better or worse, is not readily apparent. While it is fun to kick the opponent while they are down, it serves little purpose.

What is needed is an alternative.


Marc Country

April 2, 2007, 9:02 PM

George, postmodernism (failed as it is) was posited as an alternative mode to modernism. Taking pomo's failure into account... if you're looking for an 'alternative', why not look to the original mode that pomo sought to replace, in the first place?

Too obvious?


Marc Country

April 2, 2007, 9:05 PM

p.s. Sacriliciousness abounds...



April 2, 2007, 9:09 PM

The alternative is... wait for it... Q U A L I T Y. Quality trumps everything, even reason.



April 2, 2007, 9:17 PM

Re #7: Well done, sir.


Marc Country

April 2, 2007, 9:18 PM

Art Critic Franklin Einspruch has now officially refered to me as 'alert' in print.

Where do I list that on my CV?



April 2, 2007, 9:22 PM

Ahab, please, get a hold of yourself. COOLity, maybe. But quality? It's too difficult, too scarce, and the system needs PRODUCT, lots of it. You think it's about to countenance a DRAMATIC reduction in available merchandise for sale? Besides, that would be horribly inconsiderate, what with SO many rich idiots clamoring for artsy stuff, even outright crap, just so long as it's marketed effectively. But I don't hold it against you, really. You just need to start thinking like an MBA or a commodities trader.



April 2, 2007, 9:29 PM

You are hereby Marc Alert Country.



April 2, 2007, 9:43 PM

...just so long as it's marketed effectively.

I met a real estate agent recently who told me the same thing, Jack; he insisted it really; he just stopped short of offering to manage me. And an interior designer. And a personal fitness instructor. And a commercial photographer. And a directional driller. And a food services equipment dealer. And I can't remember how many others. And I'm not even remotely kidding.



April 2, 2007, 9:44 PM

That may have profound consequences for his real name, Franklin. Anagrammatically, I mean.


Marc Country

April 2, 2007, 10:30 PM

I always thought 'Danger' had a nice ring to it, but 'Alert' ain't bad. And not to worry, Ahab... I can always come up with an anagram for the middle name later...



April 3, 2007, 8:03 AM

Calmer Art Country?



April 3, 2007, 8:59 AM

F: There you go boy; your heavy handedness always playing you like a dummy. In my rejoinder to your first comment, I was merely quoting Abramovic’s own lecture at FIU. Performance art has a historic context: the civil struggles of the 1960’s in the USA and Europe, the Vietnam War, the Cold War. For these and other reasons (that we can argue some other time) the body became a locus for artistic experimentation. I don’t think that artists like Burden, Ono, de Maria, Schneeman, Beuys, Acconci, Nauman, Nitsch, Pane, Rossler, Mendieta and many more, were doing just stunts. On the contrary, I’d say that they lived at a time when the exploration (of the possibilities of the body as art) became an imperative: The body as (simultaneously) object and subject; body as transgression (the Viennese Actionists), as sex prop (Schneeman, Ono), as caricature (Nauman), as ritual (Abramovic), as political satire (Rossler), etc, etc. After Existentialism and Humanism (and the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Vietnam, and Pol Pot), all these artists explored valid questions: Is the body essential component of the self? What’s gender? What’s a female? Is the body more than representation? Since you referred to my blog, I teach Art Issues. Besides my beliefs in the matter, I think my students should know the history of contemporary art. We don’t eschew any topic from our discussions and you and your friends are more than welcome to pitch in (your blog is in my list of blogs).



April 3, 2007, 9:07 AM

I haven't seen 'Lips of St.Thomas', but watching a sniper's process of executing his target 2 kilometers away with 1 shot is a performance I'd spend $$ to see...



April 3, 2007, 9:08 AM

Those "valid questions" can be answered simply in plain English. They hardly need "exploration" by artists.



April 3, 2007, 9:09 AM

And what is a "valid question" anyway? Are there "invalid questions"?




April 3, 2007, 9:53 AM

And if they explored the questions, why does nobody ever talk about the answers they came up with?



April 3, 2007, 10:19 AM

“Why does nobody ever talk about the answers they came up with?”
That only shows your ignorance or unwillingness to explore the given issue. There’s plenty of literature on performance art (by its protagonists and art historians). OP: I could venture that a “valid” question is one that explores socio-political and artistic relevance; i.e., time, place, politics, economy, etc.



April 3, 2007, 11:25 AM

Just fixed the time offset, BTW.



April 3, 2007, 11:36 AM

OK, here is my "valid" question, how the hell dows one "explore relevance"?

This is all just one dreary artspeak cliche after another, really.


Marc Country

April 3, 2007, 11:48 AM

Christ... I almost thought comment #17 was another hoax... Oh well, it might as well be.



April 3, 2007, 11:54 AM

You really have swallowed the Kool Aid, haven't you, AT? No, nobody talks about the answers because "exploring questions" is a bit of art world jargon that correlates poorly with any real phenomenon. The idea is that Object X explores questions about Issue Y, and is therefore valid. This is not even wrong.

And I say again, out of context, the Abramovic piece is a stunt. That's not a value judgment, just an observation about the context necessary for that kind of work. However, if some guy in the privacy of his home decided to carve a star in his stomach for expressive purposes, we might fairly advocate some mental health care for him. Whereas if he painted the view out of his window, he would be making art even without audience. That's a value judgment.

Note here that I'm apparently displaying ignorance or unwillingness to explore (that word again) by asking a straightforward question. Good luck to your students.



April 3, 2007, 12:18 PM

OP (#24), I feel your pain, but don't take it so seriously. It simply doesn't deserve such consideration.



April 3, 2007, 12:24 PM

I never heard "not even wrong" before. That's excellent!



April 3, 2007, 12:31 PM

OP: Relevance has to do with “fitness” of context. Hey, I come from a pragmatic historic position here (as I should as a professor teaching contemporary art). I’m not evaluating performance art. I’m reporting the developments as explained and recorded by the protagonists, the academics, the critics and the historians. There are historic reasons for the art phenomenon (known as performance art) that have been well-explained already by the experts. I take all these accounts (taken together) as the best explanation for what happened.



April 3, 2007, 1:06 PM

A.T. I can appreciate that you understand your role to be one of neutral observer when it comes to highly unconventional art forms. I might note, however, that you clearly demonstrate a particular predilection to mashups of philosophy and sociology and psychology and so on, which unavoidably vapourizes your neutrality. Favouring the context of an artwork, arbitrary or not, is a value judgment.

Is it fair to say, A.T., that you are intrigued with the puzzle of how each academically legitimate field of study overlaps with the others? and that you think the resulting gray areas are where art can best serve an universal aim to understand them anew? If so, I think you've not only overloaded the art cart with baggage its tires cannot support, but also lowered the suspension on a vehicle that must necessarily take the off-road route.

(How's that for a simultaneously relevant/non-sequitor metaphor - espresso conversation revolved around motorsports this morning.)


Marc Country

April 3, 2007, 1:10 PM

As an art student, I had to pay my dues and read through a pile (always the correct word to describe this sort of literature) of Baudrillard, Danto, Weitz, Herwitz, Barthes, Crow, Buchloh, Rorty, Foucault, Crowther, Atkinson, Lyotard, and of course, Deleuze&Guattari. Alas, poor art students today have to go through the same absurdist initiation ritual, it seems.

Despite my being duly informed that this pile represented some of the heights of current thinking on art, I came to my own, much different, independent judgement.

I'm glad to report that one doesn't have to be a professor of physics from New York University or the University of Louvain, or even an evolutionary biologist and professor for public understanding at Oxford, to see clearly through this type of horseshit.

Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean that otherwise passably intelligent people (yes, even professors of contemporary art) can be taken in by such bald nonsense. Sad, but true.

Oh well, at least I can take consolation that, although my opinion may be the minority position in the art world, in the broader world, of both sophisticated scientific thinkers and just plain old common sense, I'm in good company.



April 3, 2007, 1:26 PM

Marc, the last sentence of your penultimate paragraph should read "can't" instead of "can," as I'm sure you intended.



April 3, 2007, 1:43 PM

With all due respect, AT, there is a level of belief in and a pronounced lack of skepticism toward these things you claim to be simply "pragmatically" relating to students, things which when verbalized seem absurd to any educated person save for the devotees of the stuff.

Justifying the elevation of such activities to the status of art by cooking up long lists of names, events and philosophies liberally spiced with current artspeak trend terms and unnamed "experts" is not intellectually responsible, no matter how many others are doing the same thing. In my opinion, anyone who buys this nonsense has lost the ability for self-determined judgement of art. Sooner or later we will all look back, saying "what were we thinking?"

Kool-aid, indeed!


Brian Horrocks

April 3, 2007, 2:32 PM

I am wondering if anyone can tell me who the artist is of this work is.


Brian Horrocks

April 3, 2007, 2:34 PM

Sorry about the links, these are the working ones. Thanks. Please let me know who the artist is and what the work is called.



April 3, 2007, 2:42 PM

Justifying the elevation of such activities to the status of art by cooking up long lists of names, events and philosophies liberally spiced with current artspeak trend terms and unnamed "experts" is not intellectually responsible, no matter how many others are doing the same thing.

1- This platitude above, I'm not bothering with. 2- Spear me of what's intelectually responsible (are you the paragon I should follow?). 3- Where do you take this idea that I was trying to convince you? I was just expressing my point of view (as you do). 3- Thanks for contributing to my education!



April 3, 2007, 2:56 PM

Really, OP, you should know better than to waste your time thus by now, but I expect you can't help it.



April 3, 2007, 3:21 PM

Re #36, the work is obviously a version of "The Young Jesus Debating with the Elders in the Temple." If this is an angraving, it's almost certainly a reproductive one after a painting by someone other than the engraver. The original painting is quite possibly Baroque, though the engraving may certainly be later. The photo is not the best, and the paper may be significantly discolored or browned, but the engraving as such (if that's what it is) appears fairly run-of-the-mill in terms of technical quality.



April 3, 2007, 3:24 PM

I was thinking something along the lines of "Thanks for contributing to my education!" after that lecture in #17. I know the names and the precedents, AT. And Opie has a point about intellectual dishonesty that you dismiss at your peril. More later.



April 3, 2007, 3:40 PM

Franklin, I feel compelled to defend AT. I'm sure he has a perfectly logical and completely understandable reason for wanting to be spared of what's intellectually responsible. You should really try to be more sensitive, you know.



April 3, 2007, 5:04 PM

He doesn't want to be spared, Jack. He wants to be speared. That's what he said: "Spear me of what's intelectually responsible". I hope I was able to accomodate him.



April 3, 2007, 5:12 PM

I might note, however, that you clearly demonstrate a particular predilection to mashups of philosophy and sociology and psychology and so on, which unavoidably vapourizes your neutrality.

Wait, Ahab, at no point I’ve spoken of “neutrality” in the sense that I cannot or will not express any value judgment on certain matters (say, if asked by a student or if it becomes relevant). However, as a pedagogical subtlety, I always prefer to establish first the parameters of the academic consensus, before I move into judgments of value. (Jack, your feeble stabs still need to make a point that I deem worthy to respond, thus my retort to you in parenthesis). Franklin went into my blog for Art Issues and left comments that I tended with deference. Obviously, he spent some time to address my article in the Sun Post on Abramovic (though he quoted it freely, he did not make it available for you to be read in context). I started arguing in good faith until I got this silly response from Opie in #33 (we both share some of the same students), who feels he can step all over the very tenets of the discussion -that you presumably ask others to exhibit here. It’s only then that I responded in kind.



April 3, 2007, 5:14 PM

Thus #43.



April 3, 2007, 5:46 PM

These are some of the titles I use in my class: Action Art by John Gray, The Politics of Performance by Peggy Phelan, Art and the Performance of Memory by Richard Candida Smith, Dangerous Border Crossing, by Guillermo Gomez-Peña, the very useful Performance Artists Talking in the Eighties by Linda Montano, Performance Culture and Identity by Elizabeth Fine, Adams Hugh’s fine book Art of the Sixties, Achille Bonito Oliva’s Europe/America: the different avant-gardes ,available at UM, Al Hansen’s A Primer of Happenings and Time/Space Art . Jorge Glusberg’s Art of Performance. Inga-Pin Luciano’s Performances: Happenings Actions. Events, Activities Installation or Performance: Photographs of a Decade 1959-69 compiled by Jon Hendricks and Barbara Moore. And Henri Adrian’s Total Art: Environments, Happenings and Performance. or Mulas Ugo's New York: The New Art Scene (1969-79) . I'd hesitate to call these and many others I can produce, "unnamed experts."



April 3, 2007, 6:02 PM

Read the goddam guidelines, AT!!!



April 3, 2007, 6:19 PM

Why, AT, you seem to be confusing me with OP, who has a curious compulsion to beat his head against a wall. I much prefer to be unworthy of you; in fact, I wouldn't have it any other way. If i ever did deserve you, I should be in a very bad way indeed.



April 3, 2007, 6:25 PM

I only didn't link to the article because the address isn't a permalink. I'd like to note that this my first comment made via my new Treo.



April 3, 2007, 7:29 PM

Franklin, please, art geekery if you must, but try to refrain from any other kind.



April 4, 2007, 9:47 AM

Re #63
The class is apparently called Art Issues.

I have never really understood why there is such debate over the notion of ‘art issues’. Frankly, I cannot see how it is any different than prior debates over ‘style’.

Art issues represent a momentary dialogue or focus of interest at a particular point in time. They change from year to year and as such serve the purpose of providing a means of entry, a reference point which both the artist and the observer can use to approach the work. Every new generation of artists make these distinctions as a way of both defining themselves and the art they make.



April 4, 2007, 9:48 AM

Oh, shit.

Something bad just happened. I was deleting that Look At My Site comment that used to be between the two by Horrocks. It looks like an incomplete version of the file came down and when I saved it back, it went up incomplete. About eighteen comments disappeared. This was a fuck-up, not an editorial decision. I apologize to anyone affected.



April 4, 2007, 9:59 AM

George: Art Issues is a course that addresses often neglected, complex, or just problematic issues, such as the art market, the pornography/eroticism debate, propaganda vs. advertising, trends in design such as Maximalism; Feminism in art, Shamanism, nature mort as environment, various functions of art, etc. We do a bit of “gender art.” Next semester I want to do a bit of Chinese art (a new phenomenon exploring what’s still non-western in Chinese art, i.e. the political dimension). These issues pertain to art, whether classical, modern or contemporary. By the way, my list of painters above was not intended as an exhaustive inventory of names, but just as a sample.



April 4, 2007, 10:04 AM

Supergirl just got a reply from her contact in the military:

"[My friend] did the bottle of syrup on a trip to Florida in June 1990. I am not sure which situation you were referring to, because whenever we get drunk the subject comes up. Of course I know a whole bunch of guys who would participate in just about any artistic feat. Especially if it meant they could get laid. To them, that is what the here and now is all about."



April 4, 2007, 10:14 AM

Re:# 51 (new)

At I understand what you are referring to when you use the term 'art issues' Never the less it is essentially an updated version of the old dialog which centered on 'style'.

From a practical standpoint, the point of view is flawed if it does not take all forms of practice into account. The questions concerning 'issues' in general are relevant to the current historical context. In my opinion, they do not guarantee that the art associated with them will be good, lasting or historically important. What they can do is provide a way for the artist to focus on their work in a particular way which suits them. After that, the process is about making the art great, and that is a horse of an entirely differently color.

I used your list, now evaporated, because it was there. I do sense that painting of all styles is being taken seriously by younger artists. At the same time, what is occurring seems fairly conservative but that might be the nature of the beast.


Marc Country

April 4, 2007, 10:54 AM

Re #32: yes, thanks Jack.

Re #36: Indeed, AT has been fatally 'speared' by intellectual responsibility. We all (save one, it seems) can see that clearly here.

Re #42: "I started arguing in good faith until I got this silly response from Opie in #33 ... It’s only then that I responded in kind." Wow. Calling someone "boy", "heavy handed" and a "dummy" as an introduction (#17) to your argument (and all in the first sentence, no less!) is my kind of "arguing in good faith"! Does this rhetoric really work in academia? (shudder)

Re #44: Ugh. How depressing. Not just the idea of reading this pile, but the idea of it being written in the first place. This stuff is like a kick in the nuts of the human spirit.

Re #50: oops! I hope none of AT's withering diatribes got deleted. I'd hate to have missed one. They're so... revealing.


Marc Country

April 4, 2007, 10:58 AM

p.s. wasn't Marina Abramovic a sculptor once?



April 4, 2007, 11:54 AM

Come to think of it, what's with this "boy" business? Is it some extremely dilute version of a dominance display by a gorilla? Or is it just clumsy condescesion? Very annoying.



April 4, 2007, 12:08 PM

Sorry boys, stick to the argument. "Read the the goddam guilines!!"



April 4, 2007, 12:09 PM




April 4, 2007, 12:20 PM

I'm still trying to recover from blowing up those comments. Grrr...

Punch a hole in him, Jack.



April 4, 2007, 12:34 PM

Don't be such a wiseass, AT. The "read the goddam guidelines" response was made because you specifically and clearly violated one of them, and we take them seriously because they make sense.



April 4, 2007, 12:37 PM

You may want to watch your language, OP. I don't know about the "wise" part.


Audience Member

April 4, 2007, 12:49 PM

"boys" as in: boys' club, good ol' boys, etc. Very appropriate.

As one of the intended audience (one of those not in the club who does read occasionally), I must say this makes a poor show. Not very interesting to see chums ganging up on someone Franklin has already demonstrated that he has personal issues with.

It is obvious that there was no need for Franklin to address Alfredo in the context of his larger argument; Franklin chose to single out Alfredo because of some type of very large chip on his shoulder which apparently has Alfredo's name on it. Omitting Aflredo's name from the post was a curious strategy, seemingly designed to deflect the evident conclusion: that Franklin still can't get over Miami, and uses Miami and it's (art) people as a stand-in for the larger art world for which he feels extreme animosity.

By excerpting the conversation from Alfredo's class blog and posting it here, in an obviously hostile environment, Franklin himself established the tone of the discussion. Alfredo is not to blame for the heated remarks.

As ever, Marc Country and Jack are snide and dismissive in tone while opie's own is indignant and belligerent. Franklin's posturing claims a moral high ground he in fact does not occupy. [In this I do not accuse Franklin of being unethical, but of being disingenuous.]

As for the Enlightenment,'s relationship to the period is more like characters in a moralizing genre play rather than a group of ingenious thinkers.



April 4, 2007, 12:55 PM

Forget the personalizing and characterizing and motive-giving, Audience. Something either makes sense or it doesn't. If it doesn't it is going to get hammered, no matter who says it. Count on it.



April 4, 2007, 1:23 PM

It guess I'm 63 comments too late, but I was going to say:

Franklin has updated an old criticism in an interesting way. "My kid could do this" has been replaced by "An Army guy could do this."



April 4, 2007, 1:24 PM

Marc (#55), I was a sculptor once, but I got over it. Good thing, too.



April 4, 2007, 2:15 PM

Yummy veggie burgers. Okay, what did I miss?

Omitting Aflredo's name from the post was a curious strategy, seemingly designed to deflect the evident conclusion: that Franklin still can't get over Miami, and uses Miami and it's (art) people as a stand-in for the larger art world for which he feels extreme animosity.

I omitted the name from the post because the author omits it from his own blog. (In fact, you've now outed his identity, and I will take his name down at his request if he does so.) Your "evident conclusion" is imagined horseshit.

Alfredo is not to blame for the heated remarks.

What is not obvious to you, or even AT apparently, is that nothing in the original post takes issue with anything he said. And note his first words in response:

F: There you go boy; your heavy handedness always playing you like a dummy.

He then went on with a lecture I could have given myself, except that my version wouldn't have included non-sequiturs like "explored valid questions". And Opie was correct in that it was intellectually dishonest. It doesn't argue against what I said at all. It's a strategy that I have encountered here often enough to coin a term for it: a citestorm. The hope is that I'll cave in under the references. I'll bet it works on students. It doesn't work on me.

As ever, Marc Country and Jack are snide and dismissive in tone while opie's own is indignant and belligerent. Franklin's posturing claims a moral high ground he in fact does not occupy.

This, coming from someone who just called me a good ol' boy. (This is hilarious insofar as I come from a two-generation line of Texan Jews. See also Friedman, Kinky. But I digress.) Snide? Dismissive? Indignant? Belligerent? Is wrong on that list? No it's not, so establish it there, or concede that you're one of the sheeple in the artworld who doesn't want certain things said.



April 4, 2007, 2:24 PM

Say, Franklin, can we change the name of the blog to Hostile Environment? Has a nice ring to it, no?



April 4, 2007, 2:34 PM

Say, Franklin, can we change the name of the blog to Hostile Environment?



dick shonary

April 4, 2007, 3:12 PM

what's a sheeple[What's a close tag? Jeez. - F.]



April 4, 2007, 3:26 PM

f: sorry for the code mishap. i get so anxious to hit the post key.

i finally get it: sheep and people, sheeple. you should have your own cable show.



April 4, 2007, 3:37 PM

I have a great face for radio.


Marc Country

April 5, 2007, 9:44 AM

Franklin, don't sell yourself short... I hear you also have a lovely head of hair for billiards, as well...

Re #57:
"Sorry boys, stick to the argument."

That's funny, I suppose, but... what argument does AT believe he is refering to? I mean, Deleuze and Guattari themselves could show up here, and I bet it STILL wouldn't amount to a real argument, any more than AT's pugnacious comments do. Seriously, these fundamentalists all sound the same to me, so sorry, it's all just more fodder for ridicule, like this. No matter how many times the intellectual bankrupcy of postmodernism is revealed (Sokal's hoax, Dawkin's review, and Franklin's post., for instance), the true-believers refuse to let their dream die, truth be damned.

There's a reason why they're called "intellectual Impostures", you see.

The Emperor has no clothes, but he's got an army of dedicated dry-cleaners.



April 5, 2007, 10:33 AM




April 5, 2007, 10:41 AM

Unfortunately, Franklin’s accident sent the middle section of this dialog to bit-heaven and Google cache is of no help (ends with #15)

It appears to me that AT’s comments (correct me if I am wrong) were looking at certain postmodern artists from a historical perspective presenting the arguments which have been used to support this direction in art practice. This seems like a valid approach and I am not sure if I would construe them to imply that it is the only direction one might follow. An artist should be free to look at the all arguments and decide if they are worth pursuing or not.

It is a fact that postmodernism, both in theory and practice, is part of the historical fabric, the emperor not withstanding. This point of view would suggest that regardless of ones current philosophical position, current philosophical and critical approaches have been in some way been affected by recent postmodern theory. This is true even if one is just responding to them as a foil, as something to work against.

Curiously, while Richard Dawkins is given credit for the development of the concept of ‘memes’, this concept has also has fallen from favor primarily because it proved to be an unworkable approach. I suspect that this is also the case with postmodern philosophical theories and that they will be replaced by a different approach which makes more sense and provides a clearer understanding of the human condition.

It seems clear to me that younger artists will view ‘postmodernism’ as just another chapter in the book next to the other ‘isms’ of the last century. They will see it as something to discard or adapt as their current interests dictate. This is the same process that all young artists have adopted throughout history.


Marc Country

April 5, 2007, 11:34 AM

14. ahab

"That may have profound consequences for his real name, Franklin. Anagrammatically, I mean."

15. Marc Country

"I always thought 'Danger' had a nice ring to it, but 'Alert' ain't bad. And not to worry, Ahab... I can always come up with an anagram for the middle name later..."

I've got it. "Marc Avid D. Country". 'Avid' is almost a synonym for 'Alert', and I've got a D left over (for 'Danger' of course).

Thanks for quoting me on your nice new blog carpet, Franklin. I'm flattered.



April 5, 2007, 11:35 AM

"The Emperor has no clothes, but he's got an army of dedicated dry-cleaners."

That's classic, Marc.



April 5, 2007, 11:46 AM

George, it seems you are neither hot nor cold, and you know the deal about being lukewarm.


Rene Barge

April 5, 2007, 12:16 PM

Here is Pomo at its finest, perhaps those who teach “issues” can include this in the curriculum. From, Director of Dry Cleaning.

“In the ongoing struggle to bring recognition and honor back to this forgotten art form, it has been decreed by Leslie Hall and the Mobile Museum of Gem Sweaters' Board of Directors that this breathtaking art form be brought to the people so that they might behold the craftsmanship, the gloriousness and gaze upon them in wonderment.

A Gem Sweater is a knitted or crocheted pullover which has been decorated and embellished with one or more of the following; gems, rhinestones, beats, studs, jewels, or pearls. A Gem Sweater is not a cardigan or decorated with the following; puffy paint, buttons, embroidery, ribbon, iron on transfer or metallic thread.

The components for the formula, which make up the Gem Sweater date back to the early 1920's. The flapper girls looking to maximize the reflectivity of its day started creating gowns made of only sequins and string. However perspiration and the plus size gal we're not taking into consideration. During the 1950's cardigans become popular for the everyday women yet boring and dull styles forced them out of the nightlife. For the 1960's a fashion designer named Nudie began garnishing studs and rhinestones to western wear. Known as the Rhinestone Cowboy look, women did take notice yet still did know how to harness such power. However the 1970's brought Elvis Presley rhinestone-incrusted jumpsuits. It was this style which finally the modern and classy women rose up to say "I shall take the comfort and quality of the sweater and dribble and lace it with the shine and magic quality's that sequins, rhinestones, and beads have to offer." My children I present you with the Gem Sweater.”



April 5, 2007, 8:29 PM

i may not have what it takes to argue with you guys, but i definitely prefer At's style of conversation anytime to yours....



April 5, 2007, 8:39 PM

Correlation might equal causation there, nameless.



April 5, 2007, 10:06 PM

completely insufferable, this.

die screaming, you pig borne trollops.



April 5, 2007, 10:18 PM

Who ever said we were a rational species...



April 5, 2007, 11:01 PM

Goya, go add "insufferable" to that list at the end of #66 and consider the challenge directed to you as well.



April 6, 2007, 11:02 AM

not to beat on a dead horse M-C, but in your #72 "refering" should be "referring" and "bankrupcy" should be "bankruptcy." how about some spelling lessons?



April 6, 2007, 1:10 PM

I've been following this thread with some delight, but man, it's felt for a little while like the focus of this blog has shifted from debate to downright propaganda. There doesn't seem to be a genuine desire on either side for any kind of actual dialog. I'm just saying is all.

Anyway, Franklin, I was wondering how your hypothetical (not to mention psychotic sounding) Staff Sergeant would react to your own statements about your art, and if you really think he'd give a shit either way. Cutting a star into your stomach as art and attempting to make pretty paintings seem like they'd be mutually contemptible to him. But I suppose I might just be missing the point.

Also, you should be careful what you wish for when it comes to scientists proving (I'd like to know how) what so-called legitimate art is. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.



April 6, 2007, 1:22 PM

Re #85
...when it comes to scientists proving (I'd like to know how) what so-called legitimate art is. Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.




April 6, 2007, 1:31 PM

Regarding # 84:

It is customary to capitalize the word beginning each sentence.

A comma after #72 would seem to be most appropriate.

"Grammatological" sounds awkward or strained; "Grammatical" or "Grammarian" would be preferable.


Marc Country

April 6, 2007, 1:48 PM

Ha ha! Drycleaners of the world, UNITE!



April 6, 2007, 2:20 PM

George, Zeki is not trying to "prove what legitimate art is", but to examine what happens when we interact with art. Unfortuntely he does not have a basic "felt" understanding of what art is and how it functions in the first place which seems to hamper his efforts.



April 6, 2007, 3:49 PM

re. #89:

No disagreement there, more or less my point.



April 6, 2007, 4:57 PM

Opie, you just won't fully endorse the Zeki statement because of its reliance on "subjective", hey?



April 6, 2007, 5:49 PM

Not entirely, Ahab, although I personally do not feel that "subjective" and "objective" are terms that should be used in a discussion of esthetics without a detailed explication of how the author wants the terminology to be understood.

My problem with Zeki is that he does not seem to draw a clear line between the various external effects that art can have and the all-important effect of "goodness" . He comes close but does not make it clear.

He says:

"Art of course, belongs in the subjective world. Yet subjective differences in the creation and appreciation of art must be superimposed on a common neural organization that allows us to communicate about art and through art without the use of the spoken or written word. In his great requiem in marble at St. Peter's in Rome, Michelangelo invested the lifeless body of Christ with infinite feeling - of pathos, tenderness, and resignation. the feelings aroused by his Pietà are no doubt experienced in different ways, and in varying intensity, by different brains. But the inestimable value of variable subjective experiences should not distract from the fact that, in executing his work, Michelangelo instinctively understood the common visual and emotional organization and workings of the brain. That understanding allowed him to exploit our common visual organization and arouse shared experiences beyond he reach of words."

This comes close because he distinguishes between the feelings of "pathos" etc and the effect caused by "exploit our common visual organization", which I assume means what is at work to make the work "good", but then this is mitigated when he reverts to "arouse shared experiences", which is misleading because good art induces an experience rather than arouses shared experiences. He is hinting at the distinction but does not seem to clearly understand it, and in this kind of discussion it is essential to forcefully clarify the distinction.

He also never (from what I know) posits a theory or supposition which at least tries to set up a systematic way to consider the big unanswered question in art, which is why we even have such a huge, complex and expensive system of free floating valuation and why we have such a consensus about that value. I'm not saying that we can answer this, but it underlies the whole activity, and we need at least a reasonable theoretical footing to proceed.



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