“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"The world really is a place of excess"

Ken Wark with an excellent post. Couldn't agree more with it. It's quite quite nice how a stealth paganism flourishes at Christmas. Stealth at least here in the USA. Maybe not so stealth elsewhere.

The art of withdrawing the hand that gives and leaving just the gift as given."

This could have come from my Continent essay. (See previous.)

 Then there's this: "It is not the fault of artists that they are now obliged to make work for one of history’s more useless and clueless ruling classes. Theirs is a bespoke business, dependent on patrons. But one might at least take on the task of even more closely making the art portray its real subject. Contemporary art gets by on alibis. As if it could gesture to a politics of the aesthetic or the aesthetics of politics, as if it could redistribute the sensible independent of any redistribution of the tangible. All of this is just dishonesty. Art is a portrait of its patrons, and nothing else. The old Dutch masters at least knew who their clients really were and what they wanted."

 "[Art] naively thinks it makes ‘open’ works, exempt from any particular meaning. As such it is just the spitting image of a ruling class without qualities."

 It's what I was saying about high (conceptual) art versus kitsch (here). And Christmas is an incredible example of it:

"The hard path for art would be to abolish itself in favor of Xmas. Instead of making ‘works,’ the work of finding the tangible excess of the world, of making again the ritual of presenting the thing that is usually withdrawn, and withdrawing the human who is usually all too present, so that the world presents itself to the human and the human to the world, so that the human knows what it has been given and what it has keep and give again. To find again the long loop of imperfect presence in the world which gives itself back to the world, which both learns and teaches the power of the double act."


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