Friday, June 11, 2004

I've been reading various responses to the torture memo, Crooked Timber and Punishment Theory, among the others mentioned below. At the same time, I've followed links from these sites to other philosophy blogs:1. 2. As always I'm frustrated and annoyed by discussions of analytical philosophy, for reasons that run from the minor: the willingness to call every grad student a 'philosopher', to the fundamental: the willingness to consider psychological subjects but not the psychology of the speaker.

Any scholasticism is limited by nature. And when it winds to the end, as it moves further and further away from the works of it's founders; when its references are to references of references, its products become those of mere provincialism. A rationalist would dispute that, being a rationalist, and he would be wrong.

The End of Conceptualism.
Formalism by other means.

If conceptual art, like analytical philosophy in its preference for closed systems, has always skirted banality -closed systems after all are imaginary, and fantasy is childsplay- for the past few years it has produced little else. This show, however, should close out the field.
Andrea Fraser's exhibition, like all conceptualist 'projects' is an illustration, and like most recent efforts, an illustration of the obvious. But as it denies the existence of psychological weight; as it mocks emotion, not as ideal or metaphysical truth but as fact; as it denies subtext, the pretense falls into tragedy. The denial of the ambiguities of subjectivity, of the reality of the unquantifiable individuality of perception, has seen its apotheosis in this show. And rationalism has seen its nadir.

The point of craft, of learned skill as a means of enjoyment, is in the act of communication across boundaries of self and other by means of a shared language. Art is the added value of a commodity or category. It defines the degree to which personal experience can become something else. Language allows communication, and limits it. Art is the art of limits; attempts to prove otherwise, to make an art either of ideas or emotions, simply fail. In its understanding of language -of form as human production- art, great, good, or not half bad, is no more or less than our clearest representive of philosophical realism.

This show goes from one end of the spectrum to the other without treading the ground between. It's both coldly, blandly, intellectual and floridly melodramatic in it's desperate need to be anything but.
My only response is pity.

For those few of you who know my relation to Colin and AFA:
Colin's dead, and I miss him, but he wasn't a conceptualist, he was a Catholic; who tried to cure his ills with logic as he tried to cure them with drugs. Neither worked, and I don't blame him for trying, but his brilliance wasn't in the logic any more than the drugs, it was in his confusion. And what a story that was.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment moderation is enabled.