Wednesday, March 19, 2014

repeat, from 2008.
The scientific work of our countrymen has probably evoked less scepticism on the part of foreign judges than their achievements in other departments of cultural activity. There is one obvious reason for this difference. When our letters, our art, our music are criticized with disdainfully faint commendation, it is because they have failed to attain the higher reaches of creative effort. Supreme accomplishment in art certainly presupposes a graduated series of lesser strivings, yet from what might be called the consumer's angle, mediocrity is worthless and incapable of giving inspiration to genius. But in science it is otherwise. Here every bit of sound work… counts.
From Civilization in the United States: An Inquiry by Thirty Americans

George Santayana responds in his review, published as Marginal Notes on Civilization
It counts in art also, when art is alive. In a thoroughly humanized society everything -clothes speech manners, government- is a work of art, being so done as to be a pleasure and a stimulus in itself. There seems to be an impression in America that art is fed on the history of art, and is what is found in museums. But museums are mausoleums, only dead art is there, and only ghosts of artists flit about them. The priggish notion that an artist is a person undertaking to produce immortal works suffices to show that art has become a foreign thing, an hors-d'oeuvre and that it is probably doomed to affectation and sterility.
Among other things the above counts as my review of the Biennial
The reference to the Biennial still applies.


I thought I'd done this too, but I guess not here.
Clement Greenberg
The essence of Modernism lies, as I see it, in the use of characteristic methods of a discipline to criticize the discipline itself, not in order to subvert it but in order to entrench it more firmly in its area of competence.
I have described and analyzed (in my book The Rules of Art in particular) the long process of autonomization at the end of which, in a number of Western countries, were constituted those social microcosms that I call “fields”: the literary field, the scientific field, and the artistic field. I have shown that these universes obey laws that are proper to them (the etymological meaning of the word autonomy) and at variance with the laws of the surrounding social world, particularly at the economic level. The literary and artistic worlds are very largely emancipated, at least in the most autonomous sectors, from the rule of money and interest. I have always stressed the fact that this process is not in any sense a linear and teleological development in the Hegelian type and that progress toward autonomy could be immediately interrupted, as we’ve seen whenever dictatorial regimes, capable of divesting the artistic worlds from their past achievements, have been established. But what is currently happening to the universes of cultural production and circulation throughout the developed world is entirely novel and truly without precedent: the hard won independence of cultural production and circulation from the necessities of the economy is being threatened, in its very principle, by the intrusion of commercial logic at every stage of the production and circulation of cultural goods.
So stupid, and so fucking obvious.

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