Thursday, November 13, 2008


I'm reposting this. It seemed apropos.
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[ist] 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] and often pornographic. Pornography being a mode of illustration, illustration being a mode of representation, and kitsch being the mode of violently aspirational illustration, poetry must be recuperated by other means. The art of Modernity succeeds, when it does, by describing desperation rather than merely succumbing to it. And when it falls it falls harder than any art before it. Art made after 1800 -art in the age of instrumentalism- is the first to face the risk of "failure." Mozart never failed, but Beethoven did. Mozart's primary interest was in his craft. Beethoven was interested in ideas.

Duchamp's Fountain is a porcelain figurine. Cut to the chase: it's a pussy. It's figurative art. In its vulgarity it's "Manet's Olympia, for 1917" making a -dirty- joke on Ingres' La Source. but it's also a step backwards. It's a step backwards from Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, as an act of representation. Les demoiselles were "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: Courbet wasn't perverse. Duchamp was always the schoolboy, mischievous or twittering (your pick), to Eliot's fragile and fearful neurasthenic. The neotenization of Modern Art: from late adolescence to early (if that).
Is a readymade installed in a large exhibition anything other than an element collaged into a public space?
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME
Goonight Bill. Goonight Lou. Goonight May. Goonight.
Ta ta. Goonight. Goonight.
A "stock" phrase is a readymade, a stock phrase well placed and well timed can be brilliant, and the curves of Duchamp's porcelain whore are as blandly stylized as Picasso's beatific bathers from the 20's.
Kitsch: the choice for desire over craft; wishful thinking; short circuiting a process to achieve results that are in retrospect -lets face it- always silly, even the most evil. 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.

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