Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Just when Jacobin does something right, republishing Asa Winstanley's piece on Syria,
they follow it with a snobbish attack on vulgarity, ("two aspects of the same thing" Panofsky)
On the one hand, government lavishes unprecedented economic and social privileges on its elites, taking an axe to programs benefitting those who fall behind. At the same time, the distinction between high and low artistic culture having been erased, the result has been a single standard for qualitative judgments derived from the commercial marketplace.
One reference to Jazz, in discussion of Adorno.
It's not even worth taking both arguments apart. The debate itself is dumbed down.
The Jacobin link is from Leiter.  Again: the original name of Milton Babbitt's essay "Who Cares if you Listen" was "The Composer as Specialist".

Panofsky etc
While it is true that commercial art is always in danger of ending up as a prostitute, it is equally true that noncommercial art is always in danger of ending up as an old maid. Non commercial art has given us Seurat's "Grande Jatte" and Shakespeare's sonnets, but also much that is esoteric to the point of incommunicability. Conversely, commercial art has given us much that is vulgar or snobbish (two aspects of the same thing) to the point of loathsomeness, but also Durer's prints and Shakespeare's plays. For, we must not forget that Durer's prints were partly made on commission and partly intended to be sold in the open market; and that Shakespeare's plays -in contrast to the earlier masques and intermezzi which were produced at court by aristocratic amateurs and could afford to be so incomprehensible that even those who described them in printed monographs occasionally failed to grasp their intended significance- were meant to appeal, and did appeal, not only to the select few but also to everyone who was prepared to pay a shilling for admission.

It is this requirement of communicability that makes commercial art more vital than noncommercial, and therefore potentially much more effective for better or for worse.
His description of masques and intermezzi fits well what what became "performance art", which developed as a form of formalized theatricality in the context of high art: anti-narrative as a rear-guard defensive maneuver. Same with Babbitt, to music what Quine is to philosophy: a promoter of decadent scholasticism.  I said it before, Schoenberg was terrified of turning into Korngold. So the author of the piece at Jacobin represents the opposite end of the same decadence seen in the piece he's attacking.

The Jacobin piece also links to Doug Henwood, as a cultural critic. again: "There's a Marc Jacobs boutique in Ho Chi Minh City??" Still a recent quote from Henwood and still shocking.

Changing the subject.

"I supported NATO intervention in Libya because I supported the right of Libyans to free themselves from dictatorial rule. I made no predictions about what would follow."

That was offered up by someone as a defense, not an apology. Narcissism.

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