Month: June 2022
Repost-Celebrity, The Romantically Primitive, Modern Art & Money: Douglas Murray’s Take On Jean-Michel Basquiat
Perhaps there are enclaves in NYC’s commercial bustle where people can lead lives less burdened by the racial history of the U.S., in addition to bettering their lot. Perhaps there are freedoms and opportunities not found in other quarters, either, which have been nurtured by this extended culture. There are schools, like minds, and fellow artists to develop alongside. New York City’s a cultural center, after all.
Despite the decadence and grime, the many fakes, fops, and wannabes drawn to the flame, there is genuine talent and potential genius.
There are also the temptations and realities of celebrity, the creative destruction and ruthlessness of the market, as well as ideas in the modern bubble which can actively discourage artistic development (the incentives and meta-bullshit of a lot of modern art galleries and buyers, the desire for the genius of the Noble Savage).
I believe this is Briton Douglas Murray’s (The Strange Death Of Europe) argument regarding enfant terrible of the 80’s Jean-Michel Basquiat. Whatever natural talent Basquiat may have had, and however much the larger culture thought itself supposedly ready to celebrate such an artist, it is a mess.
Basquiat, through relentless self-promotion, found himself blown up like a balloon over 5th avenue.
‘It was not obvious that Basquiat would end up the producer of such trophies. Born in Brooklyn in 1960, he left school at 17 and first gained attention through his co-invention, with a friend, of a character called “SAMO.” Graffiti signed with this name cropped up in SoHo and on the Lower East Side in 1978.’
‘Friends claimed that Basquiat was famously independent of mind and that nobody could tell him what to do. They should at least have tried. If they had said at the outset that, instead of dealing his work, they would help him learn the skills needed to pursue it, then he might not have banged his head so visibly and continuously against his own limitations throughout his short career. Perhaps he understood that he was only getting away with something and worried when it might end. Far greater artists than he have had similar fears and been brought down by them.’
Speaking of balloons and balloon-dogs: Within A Bank Of Modern Fog-Robert Hughes On Jeff Koons
Two quotes by Hughes that stood out:
‘Religion is diminished into celebrity..a kind of reverse apotheosis.‘
‘This alienation of the work from the common viewer is actually a form of spiritual vandalism.’
It’s tough to say that art is really about religion (though much clearly is), but rather more about an experience Hughes wants as many people as possible to have, and that such experiences can elevate and expand.
On that note, some previous links and quotes:
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’
Tom Wolfe on Max Weber on one conspicuous use of art in the ‘modern’ world:
‘…aesthetics is going to replace ethics, art is going to replace religion, as the means through which educated people express their spiritual worthiness…‘
Somewhere apart from Medieval, Christian, Classical and pre-Enlightenment forms of authority and social hierarchy; somewhere away from the kinds of patronage, inspiration, rules, money that bent and shaped previous Art, emerged the Enlightenment and came the Romantic, Modern, and Postmodern.
***As for ideas to fill the holes, there’s definitely one path from Hegelian ‘Geist’ to Marxist class-consciousness to the revolutionary and radical doctrines found in the postmodern soup…but there are also problems with the liberation of the ‘Self’ from Schopenhauer’s ‘Will’ to Nietzsche ‘Will to Power.’
Is street-art, or the use of graffiti & mixed-materials performed illegally out in public (on public and privately owned property) partly due to the success of capital markets?
-Banksy’s website here.
-Newsweek’s piece: ‘See You Banksy, Hello Invader.‘
Response To A Reader On ‘Radical Chic’ And A Link to Banksy’s ‘Dismaland’
God or no God, please deliver us from tired political philosophies:
I’d argue that it’s possible, especially with the constant cries of modernism to ‘make it new,‘ I think this is one way we’ve arrived at pop art, and the desire to blend conceptual art and popular music together. This is in evidence from The Talking Heads to Lady Gaga to Jay Z promoting his new album alongside Marina Abramovic at MOMA.
Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.: Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
Two ways around postmodernism, nihilism?: One is Allan Bloom Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’…A structure in the desert…not even a city Update On LACMA, Michael Heizer And The ‘Levitated Mass’-Modern Art And The Public;..
Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’
How Close Is Too Close?-A Few Links On The 2013 El Reno Tornado
Dan Robinson was the guy heading south, then rapidly east, in the hopes of staying on a parallel northward track to the May 31st, 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma tornado. I can appreciate a man driving towards such a thing.
In his words:
‘I was not trying to get close. I knew from how the tornado first appeared that it would be very large, violent and dangerous. My goal was simply to remain in a good position for photography and video, which I felt would be best with the tornado backlit by the bright skies to the southwest. I wanted to be just close enough to have a high-contrast view. ‘
It turns out that particular evening, many of the variables leading to supercell formation, and even EF5 tornado formation, were in place. So many were in place, in fact, that this became one of the most violent and dangerous tornadoes ever recorded.
It changed directions suddenly. It slowed down to 5 mph and sped up to nearly 50 mph. 2.6 miles wide at one point? 300 mph wind?
Eight people died.
The guy in a Toyota Yaris, slipping on a wet, gravely Oklahoma road unable to disable traction control doesn’t exactly come off a hero. The guy suddenly racing for his life, enveloped in the outer wind-field, is easily criticized. Bigger balls than many? Maybe. Stupid enough to get killed? Possibly.
Thanks, Dan, for chasing on your own dime, sharing your information, and respecting the wishes of the families of those in the car behind you. That was the last anyone saw of them.
It is what it is.
From the Weather Service video below: A small percentage of the world’s surface supports the kinds of extreme clashing air masses found on the U.S. plains. Very few thunderstorms become supercells, and very few of those supercells form tornadoes. Even fewer tornadoes become violent F4 and F5 monsters which spawn sub-vortices and anti-cyclones.
The El Reno, Oklahoma tornado from 2013 took the lives of eight people, including experienced stormchasers known for their judgment and contributions to the rest of us.
A sad day.
Seattle Photo-Fun With Dad
Sunday Poem-Philip Larkin
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.
I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:
Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Seattle Photo-Stack Light
‘Grabby’ Aliens, A Beautiful Funnel Of Air & A Few Past Links
I tend to be skeptical of guys who, upon their deaths, freeze their heads into perpetuity. Probabilistically, though, I suppose it could be a bet worth taking.
We could use more outside-the-box thinkers with real-world experience making bets on where to fruitfully think.
Our institutions have more rot than usual, and dangerous capture. There are too many prizes, too many piles of old money, and not enough brains and courage.
I’m of a mind to say Nature is beyond value judgment (I judge things all the time, but Nature doesn’t seem to care). The people I love and who love me, do care about me (as long as we’re here).
God? Maybe. The universe: Unclear. The little I know of the laws of the universe suggest more of the same Nature I’ve known here on Earth.
Beauty plays a key part in understanding the world. It can both anchor us into our own bodies and experiences, while keeping us searching for new experiences. Truth has a clear empirical element in my thinking, and refers to a world I believe genuinely exists. Collecting data about the world is a lot like actually referring back to the book you’re quoting, or asking the other person what they’re really thinking…then listening.
Beautiful and dangerous. Maybe the tornado is telling you something? Maybe not.
Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’
Related On This Site: From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’
Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution
Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’…
Roger Sandall, Australian critic of romantic primitivism and the Western’s Left’s penchant for the Noble Savage: His home page where his essays can be found. Here’s “The Rise Of The Anthropologues“ and…
Seattle Photo-Lobby Reflections
Same lobby. Looking for better light. No composites.
A ‘Postmodern Conservative’ View?-Some Links￼
Via David Thompson’s Greatest Hits: ‘A discussion on the state of the left with Ophelia Benson, editor of the rationalist website Butterflies & Wheels and co-author of Why Truth Matters.’
‘Our criticism of [Judith] Butler was quite independent of the merits or lack thereof of Derrida – but perhaps a criticism of his defender amounts to a criticism of him and is therefore not allowed. At any rate, Butler’s open letter to the Times is a classic example of precisely this evasive non-substantive suggestion of impropriety that you mention. It’s basically an argument from celebrity. ‘How dare you publish such a snide obituary, Derrida was hugely influential, he was celebrated, he was a big deal.’
Hmmm….Martha Nussbaum on Judith Butler: ‘The Professor Of Parody‘
‘These developments owe much to the recent prominence of French postmodernist thought. Many young feminists, whatever their concrete affiliations with this or that French thinker, have been influenced by the extremely French idea that the intellectual does politics by speaking seditiously, and that this is a significant type of political action. Many have also derived from the writings of Michel Foucault (rightly or wrongly) the fatalistic idea that we are prisoners of an all-enveloping structure of power, and that real-life reform movements usually end up serving power in new and insidious ways. Such feminists therefore find comfort in the idea that the subversive use of words is still available to feminist intellectuals. Deprived of the hope of larger or more lasting changes, we can still perform our resistance by the reworking of verbal categories, and thus, at the margins, of the selves who are constituted by them.’
Strolling along, Avital Ronell, professor of German and Comparative Literature at NYU, invites you for a walk in the park, for whom 10 minutes of profound explication can never be enough:
I’m guessing that in the past, and maybe still in the present, some Nimrods find both the Catholic Church and/or the Priesthood of Impenetrable Jargon attractive life options.
‘In September 2017, New York University launched a Title IX investigation into Avital Ronell, an internationally acclaimed professor who had been accused of sexual harassment by her former graduate student, Nimrod Reitman.’
Roger Scruton suggests that the co-opting of university philosophy and literature departments by similar postmodern schools of thought (post-ish Marxist) does a disservice to young people interested in both philosophy and literature:
On that note, it doesn’t matter so much if ideas are true, or falsifiable, but rather if they can be held with conviction, made into policy, and acted upon in the world. People are going to do politics, whether you like it or not.
I’d argue that the decline of religion along with the intellectual currents in many academies have conspired to produce enough space for the following in our politics: Morally righteous people interested in how you should live your life. People who are deeply anti-religious and narrowly ideological.
From my point-of-view, If we conceptualize a blob of unchallenged moral sentiment anchored in religious teaching, and we imagine this sentiment to have been a primary reservoir for action in the world in and the laws (forming the personal habits and thoughts of many), we can imagine the blob being slowly drained.
In part through the pursuit of the (S)elf to the exclusion of much else, and often on the backs of many claims of personal/individual freedom and market viability, we’re presumed to be moving ever towards more liberty. This forms the backbone of a lot of liberal idealism. Many men on the street these days, following the example of many artists and intellectuals of the past few generations, are asked to put such moral sentiment and hope into the ideals, ‘-Isms’ and political causes (feminism/environmentalism/activism…moving relatively closer to the authoritarian/totalitarian Leftism of Marx). This also makes more elements of our personal lives, and the freedom of thought and speech to question the knowledge/truth claims of true-believers, fall under the shadow of the new moral orthodoxies.
It turns out we don’t emerge from the womb as fully formed individuals. It turns out leaving the public square and the academy to radicals has consequences. It turns out some ideals scale, and many don’t.
Human nature and reality await.
Seattle Photo-Looking For Balance
No cropping. Just darkened it a little and made it black and white. More of a study.