Not nothing or one thing, art is the whole enterprise including correspondences, protests, illuminations, appeals, credos, inaccuracies, failures, idiocies, vexations, confessions. In and out of what we call the work. Maybe one has to be everything now or all bets are off. No account for the means of production, natural resources and the climate; struggles of body, sex, gender, class, race; or just praising beauty and making useless stuff, we’re the all-consumer out for everything but art.
You can still make something for no reason, and in some cases have to.
Pleasing the patriarchy he shaved; protesting empire, his beard grew long and heavy. There has always been outrage to show; the frown in the death-mask shows this.
She just had to picture something, like a big rainbow, and then could throw a man.
I’m not so sure that those playful hues and other aesthetic choices can be written off as Romantic drivel. I’m reading that critic wrong I’ll bet.
Lightning bolts that are simultaneous relative to a stationary observer are not simultaneous relative to the observer texting while crossing the street; they aren’t even there. The accompaniment of thunder, maybe.
Thinking of languages on the fringes of larger “killer” languages defiantly around — with their speakers’ secret codes and muffled words to keep meanings safe from hegemony — and the ten-cent category of “outsider art.” What was it those artists are outside again? (I aimlessly wonder what “insider art” might be.)
I stumble upon an interview with Bill Berkson (art critic Bill) where he comes off as totally generous. Not because of his acceptance of everything, but from a discern for what to write about — or rather, what to not write about — and when. His no-nonsense, silent disavowal of what he’d rather see “go away,” is another way of allowing space instead for what delights and puzzles him. All that, in lieu of critical grumbling, is what looking is about.
I forget how I got here. Returning to the stoics: Where’d they get those Zen-like ideas, historically? It was said to be one of our axial ages then. But there’s always the betwixt, the interim, the divide, the stopgap— where new ideas haven’t “come in” yet while the old ones are put into question. No origination, the idea is always there, waiting, sent through a passage, to be tossed up with the music in the air.
An american inferno
Dante’s “we are one in hell as we are above” rings true with help from translater Ciardi’s note: In the Inferno, “the souls of the damned are locked so blindly into their own guilt that no one can feel sympathy for another, or find any pleasure in the presence of another.” I can’t avoid relating this to what partisan politics does to social relations. But in our case it’s not guilt but outrage, rage turning on obstinacy.
No way out
From David Carrier at artcritical comes the story of the statesman Phocion, wrongly accused by his fellow Athenians of treason. How similar is this ancient story to the more modern one of Dreyfus; how much more devastating and severe — his peers supported him, protested his imprisonment, and yet, no way out?
It’s easy to mistake an ordinary restroom trip announcement for “I’m going to sing” when it’s late and there’s beer involved.
“The sea’s off somewhere, doing nothing. Listen.” — Elizabeth Bishop
Note on a book of Jordaens
This is the study for someone from the past, if not observed by way of one’s entire nervous system — but how, looking to a book? The paintings are dummied here; a remove is pronounced but it’s no impediment. The metaphysical occurrences in Jordaens aren’t treated with a conventional approach — analyzing formal qualities and what symbols he created by way of Ovid, Virgil, Dante. They are to be plumbed somehow; by a look to surprise.
With a full glass, the bar gets a passable, if sensible appellation of “a piece of wood” — to the mind of my new friend down-trunk.
Aristotle said that Zeno invented dialectic; Plato gives an account of it by putting Zeno’s book into his mouth, yet it’s Diogenes we remember as “the dog.”