Tuesday, May 18, 2010

note taking
Same post discussed on this page a few days later
"Which is why I keep returning to the distinction between the “design” model of MIT and the observational model of The Wire."

I think a good definition of art is a text, in the broadest sense of the term, where the various subtexts seem as crafted or even more crafted than the simple material; the implications so varied and yet so articulated that they seem like the result of decisions. That's the argument for the notion of what's now called the intentional fallacy and it's proven in the fact of how and why we still examine the art of the past even though we don't share any of the ideologies that it was made to illustrate. When illustrative function is gone what's left is manifestation, and not of what we call ideas but of the conflicts between them.

At some point that became explicitly the goal of what was no longer the art of flattery -for princes and patrons- but an independent art of description, as it had perhaps been earlier or was still elsewhere in pre-commercial economies. But as Panofsky said, if commercial art can end up as a whore, independent "noncommercial" art in a commercial economy can end up an old maid. Which is why all I'm talking about is one form or another of commercial art.

John McCreery, you're describing examples of advertising, an art of flattery, that has in your opinion has produced an actual art. But it is not so because of its function but on top of it. Read my comments on McCracken. Or begin here. It's funnier. More vulgar than Maki but not unrelated.
McCrcken sees advertising function as art, and 'content' manipulation as art. If official portraits made to glorify kings can be art there's no reason modern advertising can't be also, but the intent to glorify, or sell, is not the measure of success.

The paradox of anthropology applies to studying salesmen too. You've never understand sales unless you do it for a living. But if you get caught up in it, you won't either.

"Creatives" I hate that term.
Do you know how much time goes into every jingle you hear? Every new sneaker design? Ads are made to be disposable. I sat on the beach with an oscar-winning production designer watching him draw out plans for a 4 million dollar 30 second spot; scratching out patterns on the sand with a stick. It's a day job and they all make their money that way. And I don't even like his movies much: the things he'd prefer to be doing. By your logic the fact that you work really hard and you're a loyal servant of the king makes you a great artist. Both are irrelevant.

"But I don’t want to leave Maki as nothing more than a labeled node in a network analysis diagram."

And that's why you want to celebrate "creatives" because otherwise your life is flat. In an academic culture where subjectivity is seen as secondary, apart and merely personal, what's left that's human deserves unconditional love. But subjectivity is constitutive, it's part and partial of consciousness, and the petty seductions you celebrate as poetry are just your way to rationalize your sense of the true superiority of reason; until Doktor Immanuel Rath gets floored by Lola. Rath is not the poet, his tragedy is the subject of a poem.

The people who shoot ads are in LA, and they laugh at the intellectuals on Madison Ave who come up with the ideas. They're the stagehands who know what's going to happen from the moment Rath walks into the theater. They understand how culture works, and what people are. The intellectuals don't. But I'd like to say that's because the intellectuals are not what they claim, but only schoolmen, and an intellectual is something more.
An intellectual is someone who understands the distinction between Rath and von Sternberg

“Seth, I did not say that advertising is art. I explicitly rejected as nonsense your claim that all that copywriters care about is content.”

I agreed as much as copywriters are craftsmen. But I don’t pay that much attention to scriptwriters either. Maybe there’s a literary craft in Japanese advertising that functions as the equivalent to the visual and theatrical craft in western advertising. That would be a very interesting topic. It would also involve close reading and connoisseurship rather than labeled nodes and network analyses. I’m curious.

This is all still contra the MIT model of intellectual economic vanguardism and intellectual “designers” and designed intellectualism. You seem pulled in both directions.
Purity of art has nothing to do with it.
McCracken has no interest in form. His interest is content. Rather than a justice on the Supreme Court who believes in the doctrine of original intent vis-a-vis the Constitution (a doctrine that's not taken very seriously by serious thinkers) he's an author who believes in it regarding his own writing. And strangely at that point the doctrine is accepted. In other words we can't know the past but the futrure will know us. When a well known philosophy professor says History is Bunk (scroll down) no one bats an eye, because to him we are the future.

We communicate in form, in media. Content does not transfer. You may imagine that human communication consists of things like me telling you "one plus one equals two" but it doesn't. Outside very limited areas it consists of things like someone saying "Trust me." What's communicated in that? Trust? No. Trustworthyness? No. And on and on. McCracken is Dr. Immanuel Rath as techno futurist. The 20th century saw enough of those criminal buffoons. I called him a Stalinist for a reason. The illustration of ideas does not communicate those ideas to anyone who does not share them.

We communicate in art, in all the rhetoric we use above and around the words we use when we say: "Trust me." Use your "labeled nodes and network analyses" but you're the one who's ignoring structure not me. You and Dr. Alex Rosenberg, and Dr. McCracken and Dr. Rath. The last of them at least realized his mistake. But you can ignore him if you want. After all, he's only a fictional character in the movies.

I understand that you're defensive about the way you've chosen to live your life, and that you don't pay attention to the details of criticism. Graphing is easy, interpretation is hard.

I have the same arguments with defenders of late Picasso. Describing in their own words how good the work is they describe nothing more than their own tastes. I respond by describing it in the context of the culture of 1955-72 with all else that happened and reply that late Picasso seems unimportant. Doing the same for the work of 1904-1920 the result is different. We'll see how it plays out.

You would call all this unsupported assertion. By comparison your only substantive assertion is that people you know care about their work, and the "form" of their work. I accept that. But still that says no more than that some people care about the form of late Picasso. And nothing is learned about the work your friends enjoy, or late Picasso.

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