Sunday, December 20, 2009

back to behaviorism

Reading around professional philosophers' arguments (again) it's painful how even in discussing art they avoid the form that's the most threat to them and their self-designated status. I've read discussions of painting, photography and dance, but nothing on literature, other than fantasy/SF: the vulgar literature of illustration and intentionality. For academics more interested in breaking away from self-referential reason the references are to dance or other forms of notated perception that challenge them in ways only they themselves can articulate in language. Duchamp was right: no one ever called anyone a dumb poet.

Back to the last post: If Avatar is any good it will be because it describes the conflicted desires for individualism and community -the central theme of American life- in the language and symbolism of the first decade of the 21st century. If it succeeds it will be because it will be seen to describe the state of play. If it lasts it will be because it will be seen in the eyes of a future generation as having described the state of play in and around 2009. If people in the future find it emotionally compelling it will be because the language of America in 2009 was used in such a way to render it compelling in the future. And what is or is not compelling of course are the emotions of the filmmaker as they are embodied and articulated in his craft. In an art of megalomania there's no pretense of representing the world outside the author's perceptions of it. The best you can expect is an honest self-portrait.

"The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear." No. It's always the case that the new is born unrecognized right under the nose of the old.
And we are returning to a model of behaviorism. As I said before Chomsky will be remembered for his journalist's empiricism long after his academic rationalism is forgotten. It already is.

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