Tuesday, December 27, 2022

I guess I'm just having fun piling on. Fun and frustration.

Riegl, Late Roman Art Industry 

The greatest adhesion to the pure sense perception of the (seemingly objective) material individuality of objects and, therefore, the possible greatest assimilation of the material appearance of the work of art to the plane, yet not the optical plane, imagined by our eye at a distance from the objects, but the tactile plane suggested by the sense of touch, because on this level of development, to be certain about (touchable) impenetrability also means having the convinction of the material individuality. From the optical point of view, this is the plane which the eye perceives when it comes so close to the surface of an object, that all the silhouettes and, in particular all shadows which otherwise could disclose an alteration in depth, disappear.2 The perception of objects, which characterizes this first level of the ancient Kunstwollen, is thus tactile, and in as much as it has to be optical to a certain degree, it is nahsichtig; ancient Egyptian art expresses it in almost its purest form.3 Foreshortenings and shadows (disclosing deep space) avoid this as painstakingly as the expression of mental states (disclosing the subjective psychic life). The main accent, however, is placed on the silhouettes which are kept as symmetrical as possible, because symmetry reveals to the exterior an uninterrupted tactile connection within the plane in the most convincing manner. Symmetry inherently belongs to the dimensions of the plane, it is limited, if not destroyed, by depth; for that reason in the visual arts of all of antiquity symmetry became the essential instrument of bestowing completeness on material entities on plane surfaces.

2) One can test this, for example, with ancient Egyptian statues by looking first from a distance where they make a flat and absolutely lifeless impression and then gradually from greater proximity, where the planes become increasingly lively, until eventually the fine modelling can be felt entirely, when one lets the tip of the fingers glide over them.

3) As can be understood from its development over a thousand years, ancient Egyptian art also developed at various points beyond this indicated degree; on the other side the Greeks, even during an advanced period were still partly constrained by it.

"...until eventually the fine modelling can be felt entirely, when one lets the tip of the fingers glide over them."

He knows because he's done it. I've done it. Riegl's not writing from an abstracted rationalized empiricism. He's fucking great.
That's the simple way to put it. The more complex way is to say he belongs fully to an academic milieu while still describing the the richness and immediacy of his own experience
The primacy of perception 

Wood, Introduction to Panofsky,  Perspective as Symbolic Form

This antagonism between the historicist scruple and the structuralist  imagination is revealed most graphically in Panofsky’s awkward chronological coordinations of art history and intellectual history. Synchrony is never better than approximate. Modern projective geometry as worked  out by Desargues corresponds to the directionless space of Descartes,  but it also corresponds to Alberti’s costruzione legittima and to Kantian  epistemology. The conceptions of space of Democritus, Plato and Aristotle all correspond to Greco-Roman landscape painting. The Aristotelian revival of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries correSponds to High  Gothic sculpture. These are great blind spots in Panofsky, spectacular  moments of irresponsible synthesis, forgiven because they serve as mere  rhetorical punctuation of lengthy and substantive arguments. But what  do they reveal about those arguments? The two kinds of events, philosophical and artistic, run in parallel because they derive from a common Weltanschauung. Because their relationships to that Weltanscbauung are  different — one is logical, the other symbolic — the time scales may  diverge. But once they are out of synchrony, we lose our grip on the  Weltanschauung. We are reduced to coordinating entirely unrelated sequences of events without any sense of Why they should be coordinated. The Weltanschauung is stripped of its historical reality, exposed as the  hypothetical least common denominator between art and philosophy. 15
15. One is not necessarily more confident when the synchrony is exact: see for instance Panofsky’s comments on Cubism and Einstein s relativity in Early Netherlandish Painting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 5, n. 1.

Panofsky, Early Netherlandish Painting, p. 5, n. 1.

In spite of all the changes in accident to which space was subjected from ca. 1400 to the end of the nineteenth century, it remained unaltered in substance. Even Mannerism and Raroque, even Matisse, Gauguin and Cezanne do not defy the assumption that space, whatever happens within it, is three-dimensional (cf. Cezanne's famous injunction to "treat nature by the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything in proper perspective so that every side of an object or a plane is directed towards a central point"), continuous and, therefore, static. It was only with Picasso, and his more or less avowed followers, that an attempt was made to open up the fourth dimension of time so that the objects cease to be determinable by three co-ordinates alone and can present themselves in any number of aspects and in all states of either "becoming" or disintegrating. In the present discussion the use of the term "modern" is naturally limited to a pre-Picassian or non-Picassian interpretation of space.

Stephen G. Brush, Physics Today, 2001

The French mathematician Henri Poincaré provided inspiration for both Einstein and Picasso. Einstein read Poincaré’s Science and Hypothesis (French edition 1902, German translation 1904) and discussed it with his friends in Bern. He might also have read Poincaré’s 1898 article on the measurement of time, in which the synchronization of clocks was discussed—a topic of professional interest to Einstein as a patent examiner. Picasso learned about Science and Hypothesis indirectly through Maurice Princet, an insurance actuary who explained the new geometry to Picasso and his friends in Paris. At that time there was considerable popular fascination with the idea of a fourth spatial dimension, thought by some to be the home of spirits, conceived by others as an “astral plane” where one can see all sides of an object at once. The British novelist H. G. Wells caused a sensation with his book The Time Machine (1895, French translation in a popular magazine 1898-99), where the fourth dimension was time, not space.

 I'm ignoring the stupid title of the book and the art/science, beauty/truth crap.

Spending the day reading Wood above and his introduction to The Vienna School Reader. These people depress me. I just don't pay enough attention or I would have known sooner. 

p 47.  Interesting, but unsurprising, history and lazy thought.

Both Panofsky and Sedlmayr, for instance, aimed at a totalizing comprehension of historical phenomena. Both rejected the choice implied by the conventional dichotomies of connoisseurship and history, form and content. Both took the risk of extending Riegl’s project and trying to make the individual work of art do more historiographical work than it was capable of. Both trusted in the fundamental, deep-structural affinity between works of art and the world at large, what Charles Rosen calls the “unified stylistic field-theory.” One could argue that the links that Panofsky posited between work and world under the quasi-philosophical rubric “symbolic forms” were as irrational and unprovable as any of Sedlmayr’s. Peter Betthausen gave the example of the juxtaposition of Neoplatonic ideas and Michelangelo’s drawings in the article “The Neoplatonic Movement and Michelangelo” (1939). Many aspects of the Many aspects of the “Viennese” Panofsky survived the emigration to America and his turn to plain English and common sense. Indeed none of Panofsky’s eidetic intuitions was more creative, and more difficult to prove, than the extended analogy between the Gothic cathedral and the Scholastic encyclopedia in Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism (1951). This is not such a different kind of book from the treatise on the cathedral written the year before by his methodological “evil twin” Sedlmayr.

Only a decade later the comparison between the two methods was explicitly drawn by George Kubler when—in order to dismiss them both as wishful thinking, basically—he described iconology and Strukturanalyse (“configurational analysis”) as two modes of inquiry into “adherent meaning," with Strukturanalyse slightly preferable for being more  “perplexed” about discontinuities in the cultures under study.  

In the end, it is impossible to normalize Sedlmayr. The totalitarian vision is intrinsic to his art history. Joseph Koerner showed this in a reading of Sedlmayr's essay “Bruegel’s Macchia.” Sedlmayr, in his formal analysis of the atomized blobs of subhumanity on Bruegel’s picture surfaces, recapitulated the pitiless vertical  pitch of Bruegel's own society and the inhumanity of his original  aristocratic patrons and admirers. In this sense Sedlmayr was truly  re-creating the work of the historical artist, just as he had promised to do in “Toward a Rigorous Study of Art “ (pp. 147-48). His Bruegel essay is a chilling, anachronistic reanimation of a lost ideological world. Interpretative violence, which we prize in Riegl, Warburg, or Piicht, here converges with ideological violence.

But it is important to realize that the objection is not to Sedlmayr’s historical interpretation of Bruegel as such, but to the role that he forces Bruegel to play within his own grandiose, bitter critique of modernity. Sedlmayr's historical reading of Bruegel’s  paintings is powerful and not so easy to overturn. And that  reading is the direct product of the insight into the meaning of the color patch in the encyclopedic paintings. Empirical research  on its own could never have arrived at the link between the color  patch and the worldview. Empiricism is supposed to provide a  methodological guarantee against subjective, “interested” interpretations and pernicious ideological mystifications. Many today doubt that empiricism can actually do this. But even if it could,  it is not clear that it would be worth sacrificing the historical  insights yielded by the anti-empiricist, allegorical method. One  might well decide to take one’s chances with allegory. 

Even more disquieting than this comparison of art historical methodologies is the comparison between the attitudes of Sedlmayr, on the one hand, and of the liberal émigré art historians, on the other, toward modern art. What is striking is Sedlmayr’s extreme sensitivity, to the point of inflammation, to modernity and to modern art. Whereas Panofsky and Gombrich, as has often  been noted, made no serious effort to understand the art of their  time or the function of art in modern life, Sedlmayr hated modern art and wrote quite a lot about it. Not only that, but in his excoriating commentary on modern painting, sculpture, and  architecture he managed to hit almost all the right targets. Sedlmayr derided the eighteenth-century French architects Ledoux, Boullée and Lequeu for detaching their utopian buildings from  their natural base on the earth.  He chose a Duchamp readymade, the Porte-Bouteilles (1914), as the first illustration in his book Die Revolution der modernen Kunst. He saw how Walt Disney’s cartoons transformed the oneiric, crossbred fantasies of Grandville—sickly, unlawful, and terrifying to Baudelaire—into  “an idiom of innocence, a fairy idiom of pure fun.” The antiheroes of Art in Crisis: The Lost Center are Bosch, Bruegel, Goya, Ledoux, Friedrich, Cézanne. Sedlmayr's vilification of modern art  was even more perspicacious than the National Socialists’ Degenerate Art exhibition eleven years earlier.

Sedlmayr lamented the tumult of postwar European society  but refused to acknowledge how it had all come about. insolently  he compared the images of the European cities reduced to rubble  by total war to the “dc-compositions” of surrealism, as if all  nations somehow shared the responsibility for the war, as they  surely did share the blame for surrealism. For modernism was,  of course, a European disease: a cosmopolitan and urban condition. Sedlmayr did not even look to German culture as a source of aesthetic salvation, except possibly in architecture. In fact  for Sedlmayr the trouble had begun in the age of the ascendant  nation-state. The solution was to be found, if anywhere, in the  feudal, Christian Middle Ages.

It is hard for us today to understand the impact Sedlmayr’s  book had in 1948.” At the time, he was the only German art historian of premodern art writing about the function and meaning of modern art and was recognized as such even by his enemies.  There was no German equivalent to Meyer Schapiro. Sedlmayr’s  theses were publicly debated at the Second Conference of German Art Historians in 1949. In 1950 he was one of two featured speakers, alongside the Bauhaus artist and teacher Johannes Itten,  on the first evening of the Darmstadter Gespra'ch, a major conference of artists, art historians, philosophers, theologians, sociologists, and scientists. The topic of the conference was “The Image  of Man in Our Time.” Sedlmayr’s lecture was interrupted by whistling, stamping, heckling, including the cry “Heil Hitler!,” but also applause. Sedlmayr’s surprising ally at the conference turned out  to be none other than Adorno, who had returned from the United  States only the year before. It has been suggested that Sedlmayr was perhaps one of the few participants who had any clear idea of who Adorno was. In his lecture Sedlmayr cited Adorno on Schoenberg. Later, in 1955 and 1976, he would again quote Adorno in his writings. At the Darmstéidter Gesprach, Adorno sided with Sedlmayr against Franz Roh and others who spoke of the reconciliatory function of art: “As much as I object to the cultural pessimism Sedlmayr brings to bear, he does on this point quite correctly  define something otherwise neglected by a too unbroken and  naive belief in progress. Speaking dialectically, I would say that  the harmony of an artwork consists in its bringing the riven, itself unreconciled, to unmisplaced expression, and that it withstand the  riven.” Adorno conceded in 1958-1959 that some of his writing on modern music ran “parallel to the work of Sedlmayr.” Werner  Hofmann has pointed out that Sedlmayr's entire polemic was a  partly understandable response to the ubiquitous postwar apologetics for autonomous art, which wanted to insulate art and exempt it from any “interrogation" whatsoever. [footnote to Kuspit attacking Fried] Many artists were sympathetic. Georg Grosz, for example, saluted Sedlmayr in a letter in 1955. Even Gerhard Richter has commented ruefully on the  “loss of the center" in modern art, with deliberately perverse reference to Sedlmayr but without irony. It has to be admitted that with his instinct for distortion, degradation, catastrophe, chaos,  deadpan evacuations of meaning, and Nietzschean mismatches  between subject and object, and his fascination with the ruin, the  fragment, and the spectacle, Sedlmayr never lost sight of “art." 

The contrast with. Panofsky is sharp. After reading Sedlmayr,  one starts to wish that Panofsky’s neat analogies between modernist painting and the early twentieth-century “worldview” had been somehow more anguished. Panofsky the cultural historian simply absorbed Picasso into the “unified stylistic field" by comparing cubism to Einstein’s theory of relativity. In 1933 Panofsky (with his co-author Fritz Saxl) expressed the naive confidence  that artistic and cultural crisis could be “overcome" by the “recourse" to classicism, as it always had been; here too he invoked Picasso. It is as if Panofsky and Sedlmayr were recognizing the  same crisis, but that one of them considered Picasso part of the solution and the other considered him part of the problem. Gombrich for his part has affected blasé or supercilious indifference to the art of his own time. His standard model of “making vs . matching" — conformity to schemata vs. direct imitation of nature  - leaves little room for a transfiguring artistic vision. Panofsky  and Gombrich’s discreet response to modern art’s promulgation  of the abject, the entropic, and the anarchic was to ignore it. Sedlmayr, by contrast, did not repress his panic but rather let it spill out into tasteless, gothic demagoguery. 

Panofsky and Saxl, “Classical Mythology in Medieval Art,” Metropolitan Museum Studies 4 (1932-1933),  JSTOR 

Thus  the classical past, while it was more and more  thought of and investigated as a concrete historical phenomenon, simultaneously developed into an enchanting Utopia that was surrounded with a halo of sweet and melancholy resignation, as in some of the paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorraine. The idea of antiquity developed into a dream of bliss and happiness; the classical past became a visionary harbor of refuge from every distress. A paradise lamented without having been possessed and longed for without being attainable, it  promised an ideal fulfillment to all unappeased desires. From this we can understand why, from the crisis of the Counter Reformation in the sixteenth century, when the classicism of  the Carracci led the way out of Mannerism into the baroque style, down to the crisis of  our own days, which, among other phenomena, has given rise to the classicism of Picasso, almost every artistic and cultural crisis has been  overcome by that recourse to antiquity which we know as Classicism.
An old friend and colleague of Panofsky, now as far as I can tell a cynic—he's given up—told me Panofsky was too generous. I don't question him on that. Panofsky always wanted to accentuate the positive. His refusal to accept  The Flaying of Marsyas as Titian's surprised me, but it makes sense. He even quotes Henry James in defense of his decision to exclude it. [I need to add the context in the manuscript] Picasso's turn to classicism in fits Panofsky's model perfectly, but it was shallow.  I doubt he took Picasso's work in 1932 that seriously, but the  article was published one month before Panofsky was dismissed from his position in Hamburg. 

The rest is old news for me but not for anyone who drops by, so why not?

Panofsky, 1934

Today there is no denying that narrative films are not only “art”—not often good art, to be sure, but this applies to other media as well—but also, besides architecture, cartooning and “commercial design,” the only visual art entirely alive.

The belief that Panofsky "made no serious effort to understand the art of [his] time or the function of art in modern life" is absurd. Wood should know better. But he has a limited notion of "art"

The canonical account is that Panofsky was approached by Iris Barry in 1934, who was in the process of gathering support for a new Film Department at the Museum of Modern Art of which she would later become the founding curator....

In terms of the history of film theory, Panofsky’s film essay manifests many of the hallmarks of the first generation of theoretical writings on the cinema, which are, by and large, the product of the silent cinema era.  

Panofsky, 1938 

If the anthropocratic civilization of the Renaissance is headed, as it seems to be, for a Middle Ages in reverse—a satanocracy as opposed to the mediaeval theocracy—not only the humanities but also the natural sciences, as we know them, will disappear, and nothing will be left but what serves the dictates of the subhuman. 

Panofsky, 195? 

They are not subversives, they are mass murderers! We are the subversives” 

Wood is a Zionist and an an admitted critic of humanism as defined by Panofsky, who was a universalist opposed to Zionism and nationalism as such. And I'm tired of defenses of Benjamin. There's of a lot of information in the passage above.

"Even Gerhard Richter" That's good for a laugh. He used to be a nihilist but he sold out. 

Looking through earlier reference to Grosz, I found this too. A good fit. Arguing with philosophers, and with Wood:

Instead of treating art as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that art-especially architecture, music, and painting-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection. She approaches art as a form of erotic expression connecting sensory richness with primal desire, and in doing so, finds that the meaning of art comes from the intensities and sensations it inspires, not just its intention and aesthetic.

Find and Replace

Instead of treating scholarship as a unique creation that requires reason and refined taste to appreciate, Elizabeth Grosz argues that intellectual activity-especially theory, philosophy, and the humanities as such-is born from the disruptive forces of sexual selection. She approaches the humanities as a form of erotic expression connecting sensory richness with primal desire, and in doing so, finds that the meaning of works comes from the intensities and sensations they inspire, not just their intention.

At some point in the 50s [George] Grosz have a lecture in NY earnestly defending figurative art and criticizing abstraction. The audience started to laugh, and he ended up reading his speech as a travesty. The audience loved it. He was humiliated. His estate has never allowed it to be published.

And since The Vienna School Reader is published by Zone,  I'll add the tag for Design as Crime

I'm going to be returning to this to add some of the footnotes I stripped from Wood's text. This is all just public notetaking.

It's obvious reading Sedlmayr that like all "philosophically" minded thinkers on "fine art" he's disgusted by the rise of fictions against eternal truths: the hieratic vs the demotic.

Art vs Theater. Thomas Crow vs Jean-Christophe Agnew. Worlds Apart. Going back to the beginnings of my manuscript in the late 80s

Panofsky isn't a snob. Adorno and Sedlmayr are equally opposed to democracy. Negative dialectics is a preference for ironic self-destruction. It gets boring. Grosz is a tragic figure.

Wood: "[Sedlmayr's] Bruegel essay is a chilling, anachronistic reanimation of a lost ideological world." 
The language of an angry schoolmaster staring out at the chaos of the playground.  
The mask—this “most profound deception” that disguises a  form and changes its meaning—is, as it were, the essence of this  process of estrangement concretized as a device, a process that  can take hold of any object or event whatsoever. Even without  the aid of the device of disguise, everyday things can be made to  appear no less fantastic and bizarre, suspicious and unfathomable than the masked actors representing “Carnival.” Such an active attitude consists in shedding all knowledge of the usual and self-evident sense of the course of everyday life, acting as if one knew  nothing of the meaning and function of persons and things —an  artificial and abstract attitude. Then the everyday world discloses  its hitherto concealed fantastic qualities.13 The first and classic  product of this estranged vision turned onto the everyday is Children’s Games. If one disregards what children’s games are, and what they mean for us and for children, then what children do  when engaged in these games is as absurd, uncanny, and suspicious as the behavior of a band of lunatics or other beings incomprehensible to us. There are monsters with ten legs and three  heads. The blindfolded boy looking for a pot with a staff is reminiscent of an executioner, the stilt walker of a cripple, the contortions produced by the games of epileptic seizures, the strange toys  of magical apparatuses -— the whole scene is one of “indescribable  mania.”
This is so easy. George Bernard Shaw: 
… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse.

"Brighouse’s philosophy, like Cohen’s, like all the liberalism of ideas, is deeply anti-social, laced with the melancholy superiority of a schoolmaster of a school for wayward youth."  

"In the end, it is impossible to normalize Sedlmayr." By that logic it should be impossible to normalize Plato or the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The landscape garden had its origin in England about 1720 as a conscious protest against the architectural gardens of France. The French product's use of geometric forms in its layout was now rejected as something unnatural. From 1760 onwards the 'English Garden' swept the Continent with a rapidity and completeness which, in a matter of this kind, was wholly without precedent. Under the hands of artists of note its early and uncertain attempts to take shape gave place to creations of unparalleled grandeur. Everywhere the French parks were transformed, often at enormous expense, into English ones. Towards the end ofthe epoch- say, around 183o-whole stretches of territory began to be trans- formed into nature parks. Enthusiasm for the new art infected the widest circles. Even at the end of the epoch Prince Armin von Plickler-Muskau, who had twice attempted to transform his great Silesian properties into a single landscape and had ruined himself in doing so, could still speak of a prevailing 'Parkomania '.

Since the time of the Renaissance the rivalry of the arts for precedence had been a constant theme of discussion among artistic theorists. Now for the first time the gardener's art claimed the primacy. The artistic theory of the day bases this claim on a variety of grounds. Firstly, the art of the gardener is of all the most comprehensive since it comprises, and in a spatial sense actually contains, both sculpture and architecture, even as architecture contains sculpture, painting and decoration. It therefore brings into being the most comprehensive o f all imaginable works of art-a work of art that may well be termed 'super-comprehensive'. Yet there is a deeper sense in which the term comprehensive may be applied to this form of art, for it is indeed a rival to architecture, which it surpasses above all in the sheer size of its productions; moreover, it brings into being free creations in space of superlative magnificence. It composes with such organic masses as groups of bushes and trees, with hills and great expanses of lawn and with ponds and streams, it entwines among these tree masses the decorative element provided by flowering plants. Out of the constituent elements of nature it builds nature pictures which the painter can only hold fast within a two-dimensional framework; further-and here it is comparable to music-it creates entire successions of such pictures, an advantage to which other arts than music cannot aspire. In the different scenes that it calls into being it can ring the changes on all our feelings, can present us with grandeur, with charm, with the genial, the melancholy and the wild. Finally-and this is the weightiest ground of all-this art is most intimately connected with nature herself, and is, like nature, elusive and changing. 'None of the imitative arts is as interwoven with nature as is that of the gardener, none approximates to her more closely.' Such theoretical justification of the landscape gardener's primacy among the arts would mean but little did not the actual facts of the case clearly show landscape gardening to have aroused an enthusiasm far exceeding that felt for any other art at the time. 'Everywhere we find expressions of a veritable passion for these novel works of art, a passion comparable to the building passion of the Baroque.

All this proves that the landscape garden was something much more than a new kind of garden. It implied a revolt against the hegemony of architecture. It implied a wholly new relationship between man and nature and a new conception of art in general.

One condition was essential if the landscape garden was to come into being. The active relation of man to nature had necessarily to become a passive one!  

It's hard not to laugh. 

Wood: "At the time, he was the only German art historian of premodern art writing about the function and meaning of modern art and was recognized as such even by his enemies."

How is it the model of academia that scholars of the past are seen to have authority over the culture of the present? Isn't that what he was arguing against: a programmatic art? Panofsky didn't write about film as a man granting permission. He wrote as a hobbyist, and a lifelong member of the audience.

But that's the problem all reactionaries have: the need to burn the village to save it. It would really help if people like Wood would see themselves as aspects of their times. Riegl's sympathetic understanding of the human experience of touch belongs with Panofsky and Auerbach 

"It differs from the factual one in that it is apprehended, not by simple identification, but by "empathy". To understand it, I need a certain sensitivity, but this sensitivity is still part of my practical experience that is, of my everyday familiarity with objects and events. "

"He liked to quote Erich Auerbach’s assertion that in reading literature we need an ‘empirical confidence in our spontaneous faculty for understanding others on the basis of our own experience’."

And both were Jewish humanists who forswore Zionism, not as radicals but as liberals. That's never mentioned anywhere, because their principled liberalism is forgotten. Compared to that the debate over iconography or interpretation of form is a friendly game. I don't pick sides.

Kids these days don't know shit.  The parallel in Sedlmayr is Gombrich and The Preference for the Primitive; along with Wood, varieties of decadence in denial.  

Now I'm going to get drunk and read the Roger Kimball introduction.

In 1937, the Nazis mounted a show of modernist art and called it “Degenerate Art.” They were wrong about the art, but does that mean we are henceforth forbidden from describing any art as “degenerate”? Consider the photographs in Robert Mapplethorpe’s notorious “X Portfolio”: would “degenerate” be out of place in describing them?... 

Sedlmayr writes as an Augustinian Catholic. For him, the underlying motive for the pursuit of autonomy is pride. The “lost center” of his original title is God. Autonomy, for finite, mortal creatures, is a dangerous illusion. “Autonomous man,” he writes, “does not and cannot exist—any more than can autonomous art, architecture, painting and so on. It is of the essence of man that he should be both natural and supernatural. . . . Man is fully human only in so far as he is a repository of the divine spirit.”

Seeing ourselves as a part of nature, even a English gardener, isn't enough. Self-hatred is key. Mapplethorpe said it himself: “There's this clock in Hell that chimes every hour, You will never get out . . . you will never get out . . . you will never get out."

Why is this so easy? Shouldn't I be able to make a living at this shit by now? 

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