Monday, August 27, 2012

Art is universal for the same reason language is universal. The history of the argument against art begins in the Socratic argument against poetry and in Moses' argument against Aron. Its most common form recently in English is in the arguments of Antonin Scalia: "The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead — or, as I prefer to put it, enduring." Nino makes the Pope's argument against mere rhetoric.



Herzog is a romantic but that's not the point. Maybe I should have been more prosaic in my references.

John Quiggin represents the worst of Crooked Timber, maybe their greatest exemplar of Taylorism and Fordism: a fundamentalist technocrat more left wing and less polished than DeLong.

Let's start off by ignoring that his willingness to call something pretentious undermines his argument that such judgements are silly.

He claims to have learned a lot from Roger Taylor’s Art, an Enemy of the People. Replace the first word in that title with "God" or "Liquor". Herzog of course makes the argument for God as the argument for drunkenness. Whether gods exist is irrelevant.

Taylor interviewed, discussing his work and Larry Shiner’s The Invention of Art
"The big argument here in its simplest form is that the concept of art is not universal..."

"But Shiner and you differ."

"Well I differ. And the difference is at gut level, at the level of class. Shiner dedicates his book to the memory of his mother ‘whose’, as he says, ‘love of music, art and literature was the beginning of this book’. This phrase is nuanced, you have to hear it very clearly to know what is going on, and it is not the world of my childhood. My auntie played piano, when everyone was tanked up and Mother Brown was in the mood to raise her knees, and the lad next door used to astonish me with an old, chewed, lead pencil and a scrap of paper, conjuring up the face of Susan Hayward. This was not the love of music, art and literature. Shiner and myself agree about the invention of art and up to a point we agree about causes but we do not really agree about effects. Art an Enemy of the People situates this invention as bourgeois ideology through and through, helping to promote this social order to the detriment of the proletariat, with no redeeming features.
Taylors' book came out in 1978, the same year The Gang of Four released Love Like Anthrax. Laura Mulvey published her famous argument against narrative cinematic pleasure in 1975. How was it possible to argue for the “destruction of pleasure” without risking the prospect of the pleasure of destruction? Isn’t such pleasure at the heart of capitalism? See the paper on the right side of this page.

Claire Denis directed her first film in 1988. Culture changes. Intellectual life is an aspect of culture, not the other way around.

I tried to explain to Ben Alpers that Quiggin was making a moral judgement about his mother's choice of career.


The interviewer of Roger Taylor, Stewart Home, just had a retrospective exhibition in NY and London He posts a review by Roberta Smith.

10/13/12 More from Quiggin on Taylor, here.

Looking back at this I realized I missed an opportunity. It's from the paper, or whatever it is, part of a discussion of the idiot Bourdieu.
When I was in college a few friends and I, on a lark, went to a lecture by a man who made a career inveighing against the social manipulation of popular music. It turns out it wasn’t just pop he worried about, though he quoted Frank Zappa saying something comically egregious, it was Beethoven. The only musical form he and the organization he represented approved of was the march. At the end he played John Philip Souza, smiling, tapping his feet, pointing out to us how it matched and reinforced the beating of the human heart.

Bourdieu worries about the power of lies. He wants to isolate them. He makes a great effort to isolate the arts, or defang them. But art is not separate from society; it’s a manifestation of society.
This also belongs here: Is dancing protected by the First Amendment? Click through to the earlier discussion of Tushnet. It's all embarrassing.

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