Thursday, July 17, 2008

Notes towards something

The esthetics of oratory: the beautiful argument.
The esthetics of sense: the beautiful shape.
TJ Clark: The falseness of the courtesan/The falseness of cubism.
The falseness of language in TJ Clark's late writing: the beauty of ideas not as representations but as things. politics is being absorbed back into esthetics as an esthetic criterion. The esthetization of politics, politics for art's sake, so no longer "representative" of anything other than itself as idea.
Eliot, Duchamp, Reactionary Modernism. The preference for language over the world. TJ Clark in his labyrinth.

There's the world and there's what we make of it. The greatest poetry allows each person to experience the gap between the author's representations and the external (and unknowable) but the greatest poetry is always representative. Ming vases and architecture are secondary form. The poetry of ideas as opposed to representations is a secondary hybrid and perverse: the idea as esthetic object, the poetry of reification.

The best Modern art is the art of crisis, of dubious representation overcome by slight of hand: by formal trickery.

The imagery of Modernism is often kitsch [Avant-Garde is Kitsch] Often its mode is pornographic -illustrational- kitsch representation. with the poetry/esthetics recuperated by other means. Duchamp's Fountain is a porcelain figurine; cut to the chase: it's a pussy

It's figurative art: "Manet's Olympia, for 1917"; but it's also a step backwards. It's a step backwards from Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, as an act of representation. Les Demoiselles was "Manet's Olympia for 1907." though the painting wasn't shown until 1916, and even then was labeled obscene.
Duchamp's sexuality is closer to Gerome's than Courbet's. He was always the schoolboy, mischievous or twittering (your pick). The curves of his porcelain whore were as blandly stylized as Picasso's beatific bathers from the 20's.


Kitsch: the choice for desire over craft; the short circuiting of process to get results, results that lets face it are always silly. What's a happy ending without a story? Cezanne begins with kitsch, and struggles with it. He was a failed painter before he decided to make his limitations his subject. If his work succeeds as representation it's only in the representation of the space -physical and psychological- between the object and the eye. Only one step away from the representation of "ideas."
Clark is doing Pynchon in reverse: tightening up, ending up Harold Pinter. Ending up a Modernist.

reposted and expanded Nov 13

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