In the Brooklyn Rail conversation mentioned earlier, Robert Hullot-Kentor offers the following observation:
“…academics included, the U.S. verges on homogeneity in its denial of psychological reality. Hardly anyone wants to know what goes on inside themselves. There is strikingly little trust that intelligence is capable of understanding what transpires internally or that thought itself is even apposite to what the self is.”
What goes on inside oneself far exceeds in complexity and richness the world we live in. So to answer the question of the previous post, what is real in history is what was going on inside those fighters, and no social order can adequately measure that. Yet, as we know, most of what goes on inside us is the same as what’s going on inside everyone else, and in that sense is completely banal. So the real question for art is the self of the self, the subjectivity of subjectivity, the inside of the inside—in other words, what part of us is capable of breaking with the norm of what goes on inside. Art is an objective technology for facilitating and encouraging that small, unlocatable faculty that invents itself. Art doesn’t express subjectivity, or deny it, but performs some work on it—at least that’s my experience. So it’s the part of ourselves that is not part of ourselves, if that makes any sense. Meanwhile, the stream of consciousness of even the greatest artist is mostly pointless chatter and emotional confusion. Moments of clarity or of invention are rare. Part of the problem is that the mind moves so much more rapidly than the external world, a point I’ve made before. In the arts, the only person who gives the impression of being a free human being, not limited by the ordinary clutter of consciousness even when he wasn’t working, is Goethe. Shakespeare of course we know nothing about.