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It continues

Post #1159 • April 17, 2008, 12:59 PM • 4 Comments

And continues.

David, you're right, I'm arguing for beauty. I'm a modernist, and as such I'm primarily concerned with quality and self-criticism. It's important to understand that modernists, including Bannard, don't long for a widespread formalist revival. We long for good art to look at. What George mischaracterizes as a rehash of a musty battle between formalism and conceptualism is really the contemporary impulse of self-criticism running up against the art of its time. This impulse is ancient, not to mention style-agnostic, and it forms a core part of human functioning. It is also something that certain apologists for the state of the contemporary art world wish would go away. (One might as well argue against consciousness.)

An interesting thing happens when you apply self-criticism to conceptualism - it starts returning null values, to borrow from computer science. If one went looking for the culture's highest concentrations of visual richness, one would find them in our art. If one went looking for the culture's highest concentrations of conceptual richness, one would find them in our writing. I observe low upward limits on conceptual success in art, and a poor understanding among people sympathetic to conceptualism about what might constitute success. But when it comes to visual success in art, the sky's the limit, and our ability to detect visual success seems innate if extant to varying degrees in people.

Quality is not just hard to define, it's impossible to define except in circular terms. This doesn't mean that it has no substantial or objective existence, but that it falls into a class of perceived generalized phenomena with similar cirucular definitions. One can nevertheless perceive it. George has said before that the people most interested in quality were the least likely to achieve it, and he's scaling back here with "It’s hard to define and it’s even harder to achieve when you are trying." Either way, this is a another taunt from someone who wishes that the issue of quality would go away. Sometimes trying hard works. Sometimes trying hard does not work. One thing was illustrated by the "lessness" theme of WhiBi - quality scares people right up a tree. It's crazy to me that we'll throw massive institutional support behind a workaround for quality, as if it were a bug instead of a feature. But we will, and it's hardly the nuttiest thing we do in the art world.

Comment

1.

opie

April 17, 2008, 1:59 PM

We musn't even allude to any correlation between definition and existence. Many intellectual/academic/art types wander in a world of words, and there is a nutty brain sickness among them that whispers "if a thing cannot be defined it doesn't exist".

Of course if you put this to them straight out they will say "that's ridiculous" but challenge them to "define" something like "good art" and they layer themselves frantically with conceptual armor and verbal chain mail and clank off into neverland, when all that is necessary is to say "I dunno, what I like, I suppose" or any other mildly evasive statement that inplicitly acknowledges that the question is intrinsically unanswerable, as is any characteristic determined solely by individual judgement.

If you take their words away they are exposed, naked, to experience. For whatever reason, they find this unbearable.

2.

Jack

April 17, 2008, 2:51 PM

Franklin, if George is your opposition, please cease and desist. He's not worth your time or energy, unless you're using him as a foil to get your points across to others who might conceivably benefit from it. I can't even bear to read his comments any more because I always wind up kicking myself afterwards for being stupid enough to bother.

As OP says, arguing with him is as pointless and futile as kicking Jell-O. He wants attention, especially now that he's in a far more congenial environment than he was here. The problem is he's not even genuinely or honestly wrong; he's disingenuous. His game is to keep spinning away endlessly, for maximum exposure and sustained notice.

You have far better things to do than humoring him. He's beneath you. Leave him to his own kind.

3.

Marc Country

April 17, 2008, 4:27 PM

Jack, I feel your pain, but he serves a valuable purpose, much like that of manure in a garden... you have to just hold your nose, and see what delicious fruits Franklin produces as he digs through it.

4.

Jack

April 18, 2008, 9:08 AM

Yes, Marc, I suppose manure is a good thing (or a nasty thing turned to good use). I recall one comment on that thread from "Pretty Lady" that said essentially what you're saying. It's just that George is so...you know.

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