Monday, June 14, 2010

Eszter Hargittai at CT calls this "neat", and "very cool". The link was forwarded to her by a friend named Gilad Lotan, whose previous post on twitter reads: "Workin the Microsoft booth at pride - handing out bags, tshirts and doggy biscuits!"
Enthusiastic about banality because enthusiasm is good.

Andre Gide quotes Joseph de Maistre: "Whatever constricts man strengthens him." The context is a note on Calvinism and English literature. A few pages earlier he writes
I believe that never did the "rules"' embarrass any genius, neither that of the unities in France nor that of the three actors in Greece, and that Racine and Corneille as well as Aeschylus have sufficiently proved this. (That moreover they have no absolute value and that any great genius masters them, whether be finds support in them or negates them - and that to come along and claim that this or that great man was embarrassed by them is just as ridiculous as if a painter said that when painting he is embarrassed by his frame and exclaimed: "Oh if only I could spread out a little farther!" and that those who protest against them are like Kant's dove, which thought it would fly better in a vacuum.)

In general insubordination with regard to the rules comes from an unintelligent subordination to realism, from a misunderstanding of the ends of art, from that specious insinuation of empiricism which aims, through a scandalous generalization, to scoff at art by attacking it only where it has become artifice, and to label as factitious all supernatural beauty.
"Supernatural beauty" is no more or less than the pleasure we find in what pleases us.

Lotan exhibits the common nostalgia for the real. [] And he's a committed Zionist, elsewhere referring to Israel as "a moral society" and defending the assault on Gaza. Nostalgia on its own communicates nothing to those who don't share it. Communicating nostalgia to someone who doesn't takes skill. The communication of self-pity is not self-pity. Individualists think they don't manifest the behaviors of a type, and on that assumption they're more predictable and more malleable than those who recognize themselves in others, and who pay more attention to distinctions among perceptions and terms. The understanding of representative form -of language as both representational and formal, open and closed- is a thing shared if not always recognized by all adults. Ignorance of that is cowardice. You'd hope Lotan would see how his work is shadowed by Palestine and Palestinians. His melancholy is symptom. It presents without his being able to articulate it, even abstractly.

" scoff at art by attacking it only where it has become artifice," could refer to a preference on Gide's part for an art originating in ideas or in form [the reference to empiricism is too simple]. "Where it has become artifice" is where it has become no more than a pleasant way to waste the time for the maker or observer. But an art of ideas is still a designer's art, and a designer's art as opposed to one of craft and description is either meaningless diversion or meaningful lie; as in Lotan's case either banal or meaningful largely in ways opposite his own intent.

Novels are not designed they're written. Music is not designed it's composed, on paper or in real time. Films are made. The fact that buildings are now designed rather than built (theater and film sets are designed) is one of the weaknesses of contemporary architecture. Gide might say that empiricism opposes an interest in form [better to say "formality" than "formalism"] but you could also say that recognizing the necessity for communicative media -language as mediating form- mandates a respect for it.

There's also the sense that "to design" in english is to over-determine out of a sense of insecurity. It's meant that since sometime in the early 19th century.

For more on blindness and self-absorption in Israeli art, see my earlier comments on Yael Bartana.
Also Gideon Levy , Ursula Lindsey and Naira Antoun on Waltz with Bashir

Years later I'm adding the tag for Iran because as I said elsewhere it was constraints that forced Iranian filmmakers to work as hard as they did, and make the films as great as they are. And later I used a different translation: constrains for constricts, and I'd forgotten the source in Gide 
KantWhat is Enlightenment
Thus we observe here as elsewhere in human affairs, in which almost everything is paradoxical, a surprising and unexpected course of events: a large degree of civic freedom appears to be of advantage to the intellectual freedom of the people, yet at the same time it establishes insurmountable barriers. A lesser degree of civic freedom, however, creates room to let that free spirit expand to the limits of its capacity. 
de Maistre
Everything that constrains a man, strengthens him.

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