Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Avant-Garde is Kitsch: An Essay on Modernism and Modernity in Politics and Culture
Academia.edu, or here

It's book length now. If I hadn't pissed off Sahlins it would've been published by years ago, but it would have been much shorter and not nearly as good. It's still not done but it's close.

I waste my life on this or something else.

It would be nice if someone at least gave me a response other than "It will never pass peer review", or that I should send to "X", who then says I should send it to "Y".

The sources of the image, because now I have to explain all my jokes.

A few changes. Now I'm taking a break.

If the intellectual model of fine art remains intellectual design (and the logic of original intent) the popular model is now theatrical design. There’s a relation: the children of conceptualists have returned to an art-making process the only way they could, as furniture makers.  There’s a similar culture of “crafting” in academia, of grad school knitting circles, economist coffee connoisseurs, philosopher illustrators and wood carvers. None of this amounts to much, or won’t until the preoccupations outpace the ideas.  The best example of this, going back to the beginnings of conceptualism, is Adrian Piper, who has had careers both as an artist and as an academic philosopher.  But her best, most tortured, work documents the sleep of reason, undermining all of her ideological pretensions.  Her work is the poetry of confused rage.  The new culture of crafting by comparison is another form of naïve decadence.  For academic crafters, knitting circles are the closest they’ll come to hammering out scenarios for The Wire.  But our more committed culture of geek enthusiasm is Fin-de-siècle Vienna restaged in ignorance, the overdetermined attachments of people desperate to escape their isolation while simultaneously seeing that isolation as a function of Truth. It connects to the art of the closet, without the humor or sadness. We now have a variety of geeks outside of science and tech, all with the moral philosophy of Asperger’s patients: so fixated on their manias that the only way out is the dream of the hive, the ultimate overdetermined community. Our culture is full of stories of dystopian worlds made by our idealism; contra the church, homosexuality is normal human behavor, and against all philosophers who followed Socrates, the distinction between dialogue and rhetoric is spurious. 

Paul Schrader tells a story.

I recently watched a demonstration by the guys from Rockstar Games who did the Western video game Red Dead Redemption. They said that all new technology is essentially run by techies. And then at some point, somebody comes in from another field and makes it universal. And they were hoping that we were getting to that point with video games. We’re not there yet. It’s still in the realm of the techies.[i]

Video games are dystopianism without the sense of loss. To take them beyond the realm of the techies would be to take them beyond the enthusiasts, the optimists, and to those who can introduce tragedy: out of the realm of games and into the realm of art. Schrader’s point of course is that if we’re not there yet, we will be. 

[i]  Paul Schrader, "Game Changers: The Birth of Narrative", Film Comment, July-August 2014

My first mention of the Schrader story here

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