From The Seattle Times-‘Art, Crime And Survival: ‘Awaiting Oblivion’ Seeks Hope In Hopelessness:’
‘After his arrest at Occupy Seattle, a local actor and youth-homelessness worker corresponded with “AO” — a mysterious graffiti/street artist or artists who mailed him art-based “temporary solutions” to stave off despair. The result, “Awaiting Oblivion,” opens at On the Boards.’
The two pictures at the link probably tell more than my words ever could.
Nevertheless, here’s a brief write-up: Lost, desperate souls wander hopelessly through and around the world’s woes, ground-down and alone, bedraggled and suicidal, finally…perhaps finally, discovering some meaning and purpose by engaging in (A)rt as salvation and (A)rt as therapy.
One voice, a candle-flame flickering in the darkness, provides hope and succor, solidarity and structure, across the meaningless void. Perhaps, here, bodies of innocence and bodies of decadence spontaneously and rhythmically erupt in joy against systems of oppression and cold, uncaring authority.
Gender becomes fluid, intersectional; bodies heat-up, juxtaposed within many competing narratives of time and space.
Anti-Capitalist ‘Occupy’-style political activism and identitarian political ideology provide some replacement glow of family and friendship.
Enough of that, already.
Yet, dear reader, you might want to pay attention to how this thinking so easily can make its way up through many news and media outlets, seeping down from institutions of higher-ed into the popular culture, forming reefs of public sentiment and ‘right-thinking’ public opinion.
In fact, I’d say it will likely coalesce around a broader, more popular political middle (women’s marches) in a few years time, [that, in turn] cooling into more somewhat-reasoned anti-Trumpism.
On that note, more (A)rt as politics and protest: ‘In Protest of Trump’s Travel Ban, Davis Museum Will Remove All Art Made or Donated by Immigrants.’
‘From tomorrow, February 16, to Tuesday, February 21, 20 percent of the permanent collection galleries at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College will be shrouded or removed’
‘We’re a nation of immigrants’, not of laws, seems to have become the ‘dominant narrative,’ in many quarters these days.
Donald Pittenger, at Art Contrarian, and formerly of 2 Blowhards, has been looking at modernism. From the banner of his blog:
‘The point-of-view is that modernism in art is an idea that has, after a century or more, been thoroughly tested and found wanting. Not to say that it should be abolished — just put in its proper, diminished place’
‘…aesthetics is going to replace ethics, art is going to replace religion, as the means through which educated people express their spiritual worthiness…‘
Maybe anti-commercialism is kind of commercial after all, and ‘ironically’ ends-up becoming a spiritual prosthetic in many lives (update: Well, at least to hangers-on following artists around like cult-leaders, but more broadly, such influence is not hard to find in popular culture)
Using quite a bit of German idealism to get at the problem:
‘While I am complaining, I will also note that Scruton has nothing to say about how several of these figures—especially Žižek and Alain Badiou, along with Jacques Derrida, who is barely mentioned here—have played a role in the so-called “religious turn” of humanistic studies, in which various movements generally called “postmodern” find a significant place for religion in their reflections, if not in their beliefs or practices. This marks a significant departure from the relentless secularism of most earlier forms of European leftism, and that deserves note. Nor does Scruton account fully for Jürgen Habermas’s reputation as a centrist figure in the German and more generally the European context. (Habermas too has spoken more warmly of religion in recent years.’
Radio interview with Scruton on the book:
David Thompson offers satire on such matters.
Postmodern generator here, via David Thompson.
Do you remember the Sokal hoax?
I have a soft spot for contrarian social scientists, like Charles Murray and Jonathan Haidt, pushing against what can so easily become an orthodoxy: Repost-Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…
***My own anecdote: After a fruitful Town Hall discussion here in Seattle, celebrated British mathematician Roger Penrose did some Q & A afterwards. Most questions were from math majors, physicists, engineers and hobbyists in the crowd (many were over my head…but I tried to catch a few).
One question came from a youngish man in a beret, a little unkempt, who asked (in a possibly affected, but in a very serious tone):
‘Mr. Penrose, what is meaning in a moribund universe?
‘Eh…sorry…I didn’t catch that?’
‘What is meaning in a mo-ri-bund universe?’
‘Well, that is a different kind of question…I mean, here’s what I can offer you…’
***That’s roughly how I remember it, and Penrose was gracious, but brisk, in moving onto the kinds of questions he might be able to answer, or for which he could provide some insight.