Thursday, September 17, 2009

Review pt.2 - Prose

On Choice
In the false statement ‘you have a choice’ the problem is not ‘choice’ but ‘you’. There is no you, separate from the process of causation, to make a choice. The issue is not whether one has a choice but whether there is a choice to be had. Even if there was a portion of the human consciousness set apart from the biological aspects of determinism that entity would be useless as a decision maker without a data source and could not construct choices on any other basis. Given constant data any ‘you’ will always make the same ‘choice’
Do you have a choice? Yes, but only one.
If the biological makeup of our parents is considered an aspect of environment, all that we are is a product of the psychological ‘nurture’, nature is but a part of that.
Or more concisely, we are the product of that past, brought here by an irresistible current.
Will of God or whatever you want to call it.
If you trust God then don’t worry about it, if you don’t then forget it, there’s nothing you can do anyways.
There is no rebellion, no existence apart from the will of God. But given what exists, and ergo what is the will of God, this statement does not have the significance that might be assigned to it.
I keep waiting for this to mean something but it never will, my premise states that there is no ‘I’, therefore this can have NO practical significance.
End conclusion – go, live you life. fuck this kind of questioning

On Art
These are several, somewhat unrelated statements about art and its modern presentation.
- Every artist (and quite a few people who are not but somehow still think they are entitled to) have there own view on the relationship of art, purpose and function (and probably a number of related subjects I have never considered); their own way things make sense. I don’t care about their views, I see nothing wrong with my own and until I do I refuse to consider and will attempt to avoid any other view. This is a, probably in vain, effort to maintain sanity.
- Art does not relate to function in a direct way; every man-made object has a degree of art and a degree of function. The average card table has a great degree of function and a very small degree of art, the average post-modern sculpture has a large degree of art and a small degree of function. I will reiterate in case the point has not been made, no object is either artistic or functional; every object has a degree of both. This is most clear with architecture but requires some explaining with other forms of art. The essential, historical purpose of art is decoration, self-expression and “making a point” came later, therefore the ‘object’ that has a degree of art and of function is always more than just the art. For example a painting is a decoration of a wall, the wall is the essential object, it has structure (framing, plaster, etc.) and art (a painting). In the case of sculpture the issue becomes even more complicated. The origin of sculpture was bas-relief (going back to mud stuck to the walls of caves next to the chalk drawings of nude women and cattle, therefore sculpture too, is essentially part of a wall. In the case of bas relief and the caryatid this is quite simple but as sculpture became more free standing and ultimately in the round the principle becomes highly abstracted; for this theory to be maintained non-bas-relief sculpture must be thought of as bas-relief without the wall.
- Modern art is all well and good until one encounters something with such a difference of tone that it nearly brings one to tears. The modern museum is dead, both literally and figuratively; for a museum to display the art of artists and patrons long deceased is logical, it functions as a history museum, the history of art instead of the history of politics or science. But for contemporary artists to place their work directly into a museum is disgusting, it is a welcome admission that their art has no place in the world, that it is so dysfunctional that all that can be done with it is put next in the line of the art of the past. But of course if this is all one knows it is simply standard, modern man experiences art in the museum, it has no other realistic context and therefore causes no distress. To illustrate why I have been so repulsed I will share an experience. At the Museum of Glass in Tacoma there is currently and exhibit on the work of Preston Singletary, a Tlingit glassworker whose work, though using the European techniques, imitates traditional Tlingit art in both its subject and texture. Because of his use of human hair and other fragile materials with the glass the whole exhibit was dimly lit and I was struck at two points, one in an alcove with several masks, enhanced by small, lit screens behind them and the other in a room with a video montage of the natural world and ambient sounds and music playing, with how the exhibit felt more like a temple than a museum. The whole place had a life, a deep, ancient reverberance that was completely unmatched by the cold, sterile world of modern and post-modern art. Historically this is perfectly logical, art has always began in the places of worship, private patronage has never been enough to fully sustain an artistic community, what has occurred in the last few hundred years as the church has increasingly failed to support art is that museums have flourished but art as a trade has died, successful modern artists are those whose work functions the best in museums, work that is shocking, unique, and thought-provoking, in short – what people will pay to see. This explains the abrupt decline of respect for tradition in art, the self-centeredness and pretentiousness of artists and, quite frankly, the unpleasant appearance of most contemporary art. The difference is akin exactly that as between an art film and a major motion picture, one is art for the sake of art (essentially meaning art for the sake of the artist), the other is using art to achieve a goal – entertainment, which is not as shallow a thing as might be implied. End personal conclusion – I need to find somewhere to put The Whips and Scorns of Time (this huge work of art I did for a school project), I used to fantasize about some museum wanting it, now I hope I would not give to them for a million dollars.

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