I put today's post
Post #1042 • August 29, 2007, 6:03 PM • 18 Comments
Update: As per Opie's request, the main comments I made over there. Please click the link for context.
1. The art market is more interesting than the majority of art being produced within it. The thrill of the auctions, the exchange of outsized sums, winners and losers, gossip, rumors, backbiting, business conducted in a manner that would invite SEC charges in any other field, the unholy collusion of private and public spheres (a phenomenon that Tyler has cleverly started calling "fluffing"), the occasional scrupulous gallerist braving the wilds of Manhattan (hi, Ed_) - what great fun even to observe, although I've never been a fan of soap operas myself. How much art out there is so good that it can make all that go away for a moment?
2. There is a lot of argument about art's nature and function. There's little argument about the art market's nature and function. It is much easier to have a conversation about the art market than art for that reason alone.
3. Writers, being writers, like narratives, conflicts, descriptions, ideas, dialogue, and backstory. None of these elements are intrinsic to art, but there is a widespread misunderstanding among art writers that they can use these literary terms without harm. This attitude has crept out into the larger art world; if only I could have a nickel for every time an artist was said to be in a dialogue with this or reacting to that or questioning this other thing or investigating whatnot. The art market characterizes these literary activities as inherently good. Just by admiring and repeating their terms, one is doing the market's bidding.
Later (with spelling corrected):
What's missing from art isn't ideology, but pleasure. My clue to this is that art is unique in the degree to which poor form can be taken so seriously. If someone says he's a dancer, you expect good form; likewise if he claimed himself a writer or cook. You might not only expect good form, but you'd still expect good form. Whereas if he was an artist he might be up to anything, and winning recognition for it. Consequently the system above all else rewards audacity, which at least carries a visceral charge.
I've been looking at Epicureanism, which had only one principle, that pleasure is good, but the idea is to make pleasurable a wise, sustainable activity, not an orgiastic explosion. (Epicurus himself was celibate.) Wikipedia says that we have "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the Constitution because of Thomas Jefferson's high regard for Epicureanism. Something about this has important implications for art at the present.