Monday, October 28, 2013

repeat, and not because I'm in a good mood.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Well now we're respected in society
We don't worry about the things that we used to be
We're talking heroin with the president
Well it's a problem, sir, but it can't be bent
Uh yes!

Well now we're a pillar of society
We don't worry about the things that we used to be
You're a rag-trade girl, you're the queen of porn
You're the easiest lay on the White House lawn
Get out of my life, don't come back
Get out of my life, don't come back

She's so respectable
She's so respectable
She's so delectable
She's so respectable
flickr and Reuters/NSA
Gursky's nihilism, and Alex Rosenberg's determinism; anti-humanism and E.O. Wilson's ants.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Serra at Gagosian.
When the large walk-through pieces go beyond a certain scale, in duration not in height, the weight of the steel becomes secondary to the experience, while still setting the parameters of the design. The result is less ambiguous than indecisive. The pieces should be less fluid to fit the limits of the material or Serra should use lighter materials that allow for details the pieces now seem to lack. [Both doubtful] Brute baroque is hard to pull off.

Whatever fixes are for later.

Friday, October 25, 2013

He's part of the move towards maturity and self-awareness in the European bourgeois anti-bourgeois. He's wrong about a lot of things, but he's better than Deleuze who I can't stand.

The, Ethical, Representative, and Aesthetic Regimes of art, refer to ideas about art, not to art itself. Ideas take precedence over actions only in the minds of people who prefer them. The appearance of the phrase, "rosy-fingered dawn" was an action, an event, the result of a decision or a series of decisions made concerning and in language. The form it exemplifies is a is ubiquitous -a given- and there's no reason to think it hasn't always been the case.

Plato wanted to police what was already a given; Moses in his anger at Aron wanted to police a given. Were those givens the same as idea? in function?  If Ranciere thought less about ideas and more about actions, including the making of artworks and the writing of books, he'd be better at situating them, because he'd have less need for them to be where he wants them to be. He's unwilling to relinquish not control but the desire for control that philosophy requires if it's to maintain the fiction of primacy.  He's still an anti-philosopher; he needs to become a non-philosopher.

His use of the term "image" is frustrating.  "Rosy-fingered dawn" is simultaneously a decision and an image, of/in language. You could call language the beginning of dissensus. In fact consciousness is the beginning of dissensus.

Danto is dead, and so are theories of "art after philosophy". Philosophers are now stumbling towards the question of philosophy after art. Better late than never.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Here, too, the 'politics' of art paradoxically consists in setting aside all economic and social 'explanations' of the existence and destruction of the shanty town to identify a more specifically political element: the confrontation between the power and the impotence of a body, between a life and its possibilities. This way of addressing the 'truly political', however, does not manage to sidestep the incalculable tension between political dissensuality and aesthetic indifference. It cannot sidestep the fact that a film remains a film and a spectator remains a spectator. Film, video art, photography and installation art rework the frame of our perceptions and the dynamism of our affects. As such, they may open up new passages for political subjectivation, but they cannot avoid the aesthetic cut that separates consequences from intentions and prevents their from being any direct passage to an 'other side' of words and images.
His focus on aesthetics as an invention of the last 200 hundred years is absurd. Aesthetics is the reification of poetic form, as modern Politics is the reification of the millennia of political life (as if "political life" were not a redundancy.)  As theories both are products of separation of the perceptual and the intellectual that marks the modern age. The western aesthetic conception of art replaces the moral conception of art: of art as the manifestation of the order or an aspect of the world, according to whatever culture. The original conception lives in in the conception of artists themselves:
And the ethical demand made of the artist is, as always, to produce “good” works, and only the dilettante and the producer of kitsch (whom we meet here for the first time) focus their work on beauty.
The fact that we now see the history of art as the history of the manifestations of culture does not mean that its function changes.  The more you make art, or politics, from how you want to be seen, the more it shows you as you are. And your grandchildren will laugh at you for it, if they're not ashamed for your crimes. Ranciere argues from the intended meanings of words, from original authorial intent. He's a philologist and philosopher of the Church, or in its absence of high purpose.  I wouldn't trust him reading the US Constitution any more than I trust Scalia. He argues from ideas as if ideas change the world. Ideas are no more or less than a response to a change in function of words and forms. Once an "idea" appears, you know damn well the forms it represents have been around for awhile. Ideas are codifications not discoveries. Philosophers did not invent democracy any more than they invented monarchy but they do tend idealize one and to deaden the other.

One and the same civilization produces simultaneously two such different things as a poem by T. S. Eliot and a Tin Pan Alley song, or a painting by Braque and a Saturday Evening Post cover. All four are on the order of culture, and ostensibly, parts of the same culture and products of the same society. Here, however, their connection seems to end. A poem by Eliot and a poem by Eddie Guest—what perspective of culture is large enough to enable us to situate them in an enlightening relation to each other? Does the fact that a disparity such as this within the frame of a single cultural tradition, which is and has been taken for granted—does this fact indicate that the disparity is a part of the natural order of things? Or is it something entirely new, and particular to our age?
It requires some effort of analysis to understand why one person, among many who do a thing with accomplished skill, should be greater than the others; nor is it always easy to distinguish superiority from great popularity, when the two go together. I am thinking of Marie Lloyd, who has died only a short time before the writing of this letter. Although I have always admired her genius I do not think that I always appreciated its uniqueness; I certainly did not realize that her death would strike me as the most important event which I have had to chronicle in these pages. Marie Lloyd was the greatest music-hall artist in England: she was also the most popular. And popularity in her case was not merely evidence of her accomplishment; it was something more than success. It is evidence of the extent to which she represented and expressed that part of the English nation which has perhaps the greatest vitality and interest.
And Ranciere prefers Vertov to Eisenstein; no wonder the art world loves him. But Eisenstein's politics are in his preference for narrative.  He's a better artist in spite of his role as propagandist not because of it.

Democratic responsibility divides self from self. The proper art of democracy is theater. Ranciere takes us back to Plato, when we want Euripides and Aristophanes. Democracy is the culture of language in use, and he's giving us lessons on democracy as grammar.  We'll always need cops but cops need to be citizens first, with a sense of irony about their role, something Ranciere lacks. Being an anti-philosopher isn't enough. He's defined himself as what he opposes, so it will always overshadow him, like daddy. He's a guilt-ridden pied-noir and guilt is never the best driver of rational thought.

Politics is arguing with your roommate about who does the dishes, and expands out from there. Art is your haircut and the color of your shirt, and expands out from there. Art as "Art" is the expansion, the increasing formalization, description and concomitant ironization of preference. It's the documentation, description, analysis, and celebration of drunkenness made for an audience of the sober, for the purpose of making them not seem to witness drunkenness, in its simulation, but feel it.  It's hard to pull off if you're drunk. It's the manifestation of Gursky's nihilism and the manifestation of the calm of the Buddha, formed in stone. It's not an idea and it's not the invention of the fucking 18th century.

That after reading Ten Theses on Politics, and a couple of reviews of his books. I'll read more and amend it or apologize if necessary.  So far even when he's right he's wrong

I'm not going to write a mash note to Russell Brand. It's not worth it, and it's not the point.

Everything we know through the study of history and anthropology shows language and culture moving from the ground up.  Philosophy, as aristocratic prescription, works in the other direction, through  an analogical relation with an imagined authority. The association of language and mathematics, of language as grammar, not writing/speech (use) is authoritarian. [This is all repeats.] Ranciere's focus on philology and the words and ideas of the old masters is an old trope, and his masters are priests not storytellers, or rather they're storytellers with a claim to a higher calling. And the philosophy of irony is no more irony than the philosophy of biology is biology.  Irony like democracy is defined in its practice. An anti-authoritarian is no better at escaping his past than an anti-philosopher. If Brand (and Zizek) are both fools, there's hope that fools will mature.  Pedants almost by definition don't

Mayor Bloomberg had little sympathy yesterday for New Yorkers who find the new $20 admission to the Museum of Modern Art a bit steep. "Some things people can afford, some things people can't,"
Mayor Bloomberg grants Metropolitan Museum of Art right to charge mandatory entrance fee.  New York City's outgoing mayor has entered the museum's legal dispute and granted it the right to impose a mandatory entrance fee of $25 or more.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

the more things change

repeats of repeats.

Corey Robin now,  and not so long ago.

Again: the two links are to comments by me; and again, the problem is Robin's hollow moralism. Changing times have given him permission to say things in public.  [He admitted this later] The thread itself follows what technocrats would call "low information rationality".

More on Alterman at Mondoweiss.
Lustic, with Blumenthal, on the the Arab bourgeois revolutions.
Blumenthal replies to Alterman

Henry Farrell publishes an essay on the hypocrisy of other people.

Duncan Black
Things Change
In 20 years no one will admit to have ever opposed legal gay marriage. The pace of change amazes me. I do wonder how many people still admit to ever opposing interracial marriage. A majority did, until 1997.
Duncan Black:
"I know and have friends and acquaintances who are African-American..."
"David Duke, president of Americans in Support of Palestinian Freedom." 
Use google.

This has been getting some press.  More old news, but change is change. Laura Rozen told me years ago that State Department staff referred to the changes in Iran as a "lipstick revolution" of no political importance.  She was citing them as experts, not to mock them; mockery was left to Elaine Sciolino [and again]

etc,  etc.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Repeating myself, answering Julian Stallabrass at the LRB blog.

All the arguments are in the paper linked on the right side of this page, or on the this blog. All are obvious.

I just received a polite - four paragraph- rejection letter from the senior editor of a major university press, polite and encouraging but arguing that perhaps I'm a little behind the curve.  In the NYT today Raj Chetty says,  Yes, Economics is a Science, and in referring to those who say otherwise, he points to Kieran Healy,  Safe to say I still think I'm a bit ahead of it as least as arguments go.  But intellectuals qua intellectuals are always behind the curve.  Philosophers and "theorists" will always argue otherwise, but historians don't.  The curve is in decision-making, in actions, not ideas. Intellectualism, distinct from intelligence, is and needs to be retrospective. If someone is an artist and an intellectual, or a lawyer and an intellectual, they're wearing two hats. Philosophers and others who see themselves as intellectual engineers follow the model not of observation but invention; they wear only one hat and look forward. Formal and speculative reason are the most fragile forms of thought, and the most politically suspect.

Corey Robin writes again about "disruption" and the moral, philosophical, and esthetic culture of capitalism. I tried somewhere to remind him, without disagreeing, that disruption is a central tenet of modernism.

Unrelated to that I've been told to read Ranciere.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

camera test

Black Magic Pocket Cam, Nikkor 50mm 1:14, Metabones Nikon F to MFT Adapter, ProRes, Film setting, minimal post

Sunday, October 13, 2013


partial repeats (recent posts)
Three good films, and one lousy one (it's at the bottom). Three honest films, and one dishonest one (same order). more later, maybe.

Context I guess I shouldn't be amazed at the response to the Banksy video. I'd been told that  Karl Sharro and Paul Woodward were sophisticated observers.  My last comment at Woodward's page.
Is it morally responsible to romanticize a civil war as a “revolution” when the most powerful forces on the side you’re defending are clearly far more nihilist than the joker you find so offensive?"

The Mosireen Collective

The Muslim Brotherhood as filmmakers. The final destruction of a MB protest camp by the military. Graphic.

An American adventurer

Monday, October 07, 2013

Benjamin Netanyahu is a fucking idiot

"The far-right Israeli cleric Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has made comments that would be condemned if they came from an Iranian leader."
I thought I'd mentioned Yosef here before. I guess we could compliment him in his timing.

repeat, this time the AP
JERUSALEM — Israel’s population registry lists a slew of “nationalities” and ethnicities, among them Jew, Arab, Druse and more. But one word is conspicuously absent from the list: Israeli.

Residents cannot identify themselves as Israelis in the national registry because the move could have far-reaching consequences for the country’s Jewish character, the Israeli Supreme Court wrote in documents obtained Thursday.

The ruling was a response to a demand by 21 Israelis, most of whom are officially registered as Jews, that the court decide whether they can be listed as Israeli in the registry. The group had argued that without a secular Israeli identity, Israeli policies will favor Jews and discriminate against minorities.

In its 26-page ruling, the court explained that doing so would have “weighty implications” on the state of Israel and could pose a danger to Israel’s founding principle: to be a Jewish state for the Jewish people.
change is slow,  until it isn't.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Friday, October 04, 2013

Giap's army, known as the Viet Minh, now a formidable guerrilla force, fought both Japanese occupiers and French colonialists during World War II. Giap hoped the United States would support Vietnam's bid for independence and told a crowd in Hanoi in 1946 to regard the United States as a "good friend" because "it is a democracy without territorial ambitions." 
But the war between North Vietnam and France started in earnest that year, and between then and 1954, when France surrendered at Dien Bien Phu—ending 71 years of colonial rule—Washington backed France with $4 billion in military aid.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Democracy and the frailty of reason

Supreme Court rejects citizens' request to change ethnicity from 'Jewish' to 'Israeli'
Court rules against change in identity card registration, citing that there is no proof of the existence of a uniquely 'Israeli' people.
There is no proof of the existence of a uniquely "American" people.

At this point the contradictions are so obvious even a philosophy professor should see them.
The absurdity of "liberal" pretension, in spades.