Tag Archives: the inhuman

Art for the Age of Trump

Thinking about constructivist collage—in other words, art of a revolutionary period—makes one wonder what kind of art is right for today. Does my Collage #10 really measure up, or is to too much Kutesy-Klee and Kandinsky-Kute? Are the animal/organic and … Continue reading

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An Opportunity, or A Christmas Message

Stella teaches something every artist should know, or does know but normally forgets—that art is not a problem, it’s an opportunity, an invitation, a promise. What it is for society I have no idea, but that’s what it is for … Continue reading

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Wooster and the Reality Principle

Wodehouse’s books are light, and lightness is one of the qualities I esteem in any art. But they are not any less concerned with reality as it is lived. Here is Bertie Wooster’s favourite aunt, regaling him with some affectionate … Continue reading

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The Mystery of Jeeves

The genius of P.G.Wodehouse has been well recognized. And so it should be. His books are so funny and give so much pleasure that they make life more bearable. But he was also a very intelligent and sophisticated artist, the … Continue reading

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Late Discoveries

Barry Schwabsky has written an insightful review of two current museum shows, Agnes Martin and Carmen Herrera. Herrera is a fascinating figure for everyone, because she holds the record for late discovery of a living artist—after sixty years of obscurity … Continue reading

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Objectivity of Art

Recently a journalist has outed the legal identity of Italian author Elena Ferrante. There have been many critical responses to this piece of detective work. People are not happy. This is what Ferrante has to say about why she doesn’t … Continue reading

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Once upon the Cephalopodocene

Just to go back to the article by Donna Haraway mentioned in the previous post—it’s pretty good in the way she describes the incredible complexity of the biosphere as a whole, single system. When we look at it like that … Continue reading

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Art and Nature Today

The trouble with ideas is that everyone has them at the same time. That’s why art is better—the concrete particular is one thing, in one place at one time. One of my favorite chapters in the book is on art … Continue reading

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Conventional Discourse

I was probably inspired to start talking about authority as a principle active in art by Harold Bloom, who has a lot to say on the topic, usually with reference to the Freudian transference. It just occurred to me that … Continue reading

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Brigid Brophy

Inveterate reader Jacob Wren turned me on to Brigid Brophy‘s book about myth and social psychosis, Black Ship to Hell. I agree with what she says, and mostly with how she says it, but despite the attractive title I don’t … Continue reading

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Novelty at a Pace

To go back to the thought experiment I presented in an earlier post; when stone age man (or woman) had fire and a wheel, in principle they had the automobile, although they couldn’t make one. To get the automobile was … Continue reading

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So Much

So many blades of grass, so many twigs or branches on so many trees, so many insects, and above all, so many bacteria. As I don’t cease to mention on this blog, the number of details in the world is … Continue reading

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The Deep

This late Pollock has come in for some critical contempt over the years, not least because the title seems to confer on it a Melvillean sort of portentiousness, but without Melville’s humor. It has to be Melville because it has … Continue reading

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Starry Reflections

My theory about Pollock’s Reflection of the Big Dipper is that the title should be taken literally. It shows reflections of clouds, stars and tree branches in a puddle. I just saw the piece in person for the first time … Continue reading

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No Meaning

How does one answer the charge of nihilism? Just observe that nature is nihilist. And that meaning is myth.

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Watching Landscape

Another one of Pollock’s remarks is a real eye opener for me, a lesson: “I don’t look at the view, I watch it. The land is alive, tells you things when you let it.” Very interesting, and inspiring.

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Appearance and Desire

Nineteenth century artists like Cézanne and Degas believed that if they channeled sexual energy into their work they would get better results. Matisse had the same view. Models should be attractive, but the feelings they aroused had to be transformed … Continue reading

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Planar Spaces

From Susskind’s book comes another important formulation, also mentioned in my articles of a few years ago, now revisited: “The maximum amount of information that can be stuffed into a region of space is equal to the area of the … Continue reading

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Scientific or Social Origins

I have finally got around to Lee Smolin’s new book, about time. As sympathetic as I am to his ideas, I can’t help but look toward the blind spots. Here’s one quote: “In the past, great conceptual steps in physical … Continue reading

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Outdoors

Human beings are just an ordinary part of the biosphere, and the biosphere is our limit. We will never be anything other than animals and all cosmic dreams are just that – dreams. Space flight is bound to fail because … Continue reading

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Chin P’ing Mei

Chin P’ing Mei is an incredibly rich and detailed account of all the details of life in historical China, from food to clothes to architecture, and all the goings on between people, the ways they fill the passing time. It … Continue reading

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A Muddy Spring

Among the Picabias mentioned in an earlier post is one called The Spring, so presumably lacking the dancing figures. The writer in the Inventing Abstraction catalog observes that this spring looks pretty muddy, that the colors of the picture might … Continue reading

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More Details

From Mother Goose: Little drops of water, tiny grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.   I’m always astonished at the sheer scale of everything – that there are so many individual bits of gravel, grains … Continue reading

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Erotic or Not?

As a general principle all art is erotic, though there are many degrees of quality. But art is not made to turn anyone one. Arousal of the artist has to be turned into enlightenment for the viewer – anything less is a fail. … Continue reading

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Non-Identity Again

A recent article in the New York Times discusses the very bad idea that human rights should be extended to animals. I don’t think we can just carry on treating the rest of the world as if it only existed only … Continue reading

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The Light is Everywhere

Here is an amazing and wonderful quote, from an unlikely source: “The light, creation’s mind, was everywhere, and all things owned it’s power.” Here “owned ” means acknowledged. I often wonder what we do when we look at anything; it … Continue reading

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Anthropocene Debates

Geographer Erle Ellis, in a New York Times article, argues against the panic about environmental degradation and species loss. He accepts the designation of Anthropocene, which seems to have become conventional now, and thinks that “The idea that humans must … Continue reading

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Wilhelm Worringer

Recently I put up a post on Wilhelm Worringer’s classic book, Abstraction and Empathy. It worked off an earlier post about Michel Serres, but I didn’t give it much importance; it was something of a placeholder. But as Mr. Waller … Continue reading

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Origins

I’ve been looking at a recent catalog of Rothko’s works of the forties, the so-called “multiforms.” My friend Andreas Neufert is a big admirer of these works, but personally I find it hard to get interested. Yet Harry Cooper’s essay … Continue reading

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Animals All

Following on from the preceding post, here’s another few words from Adorno that fit well, this time from his unfinished book on Beethoven: “What I find so suspect in Kantian ethics is the ‘dignity’ which they attribute to man in … Continue reading

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