Sunday, January 21, 2007

ghosts and understanding your art is not about you talking

somethings you see and somethings you feel
I've walked past the wall depicted in the image above many times in the last several months. I have no idea what left that mark. Some sort of banner must have got air pollution and auto exhaust behind it and now the building is blessed with a memory probably more intense than whatever the banner was commemorating or advertising.

Perhaps, of course, it should just be considered nothing. I could just keep walking and hardly notice that shadow on the wall than I notice any of the millions of other things I ignore everyday.

But mastery of course, is more than handling materials. Mastery is learning to inhabit the creature you are without dominating and silencing your weakest parts. A master knows that she will make mistakes and can anticipate them and learn to accommodate them, exploit weaknesses so that they come out as the most human parts of a given creation.

I think mastering life means looking into ghosts that haunt our walks from the subway, it means looking into cracks where cockroaches scurry and giving them full reign, at least for a while. No masterpiece is coming today from photography or paint but comes through the fully realized personality that is evident in such works. Which is to say, that mastering life is of course, more important than mastering paint and brushes and cameras. Mastering personality is like realizing the hair growing on a knuckle, with oil paint, in one swift and insignificant pass.

What we don't see in a discussion of great art, is that we expect great people now. Great leaders reject our definitions and our paradigms because they know that we, like they, are weak, collapsing, disintegrating under the weight of definitions we've outlived. It is more than enough to see at last, when all we have been doing is looking, and looking we have found always more despair than we could face.

Friday, January 19, 2007

las gradas 003

from Onesock's very excellent comment:

I mean she is fully in the act of discovery ON STAGE. There is no rehashing of rehearsed activity. Perhaps thats a way on untangling the web, thru thinking and FEELING your way around each strand.
Why do I always feel embarrassed by performance art? Why when I think of people teaching art, doing art or understanding art, does no one ever talk about untangling a web, and feeling your way through its complexity? If I wanted to do science, I guess I would do science.

Yet there is nothing in Nina's performance that embarrasses me. It is profoundly personal and un-pretentious. Think about doing and presenting and understanding painting (or concept) like that.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

more about nina

i ended up talking at some length tonight about that nina simone video. I mean, WTF? when you hear me ranting and raving about the failure of art education and art generally, think about that video. I think all of us spend most of our lives confined to personalities that are merely defined by what we are not, by other peoples' personalities, by limitations that we have created for ourselves. (cheers again to gusky). oddly, at least today, i think these photographs (above) are starting to feel like they are about that, the tangled web we weave when we prop ourselves up to witness the spectactle that we make of ourselves. yet, so obviously... so obvious it comes through on you-tube three decades later, when we witness someone who is totally and utterly in and of themselves, defined only by themselves, then suddenly we see not only our own fragile failure. We try then also to emulate that person.

Simone is a well known failure in so many ways, and she is still a startling voice. A searingly painful honesty tears out of her as if it is the first cry of a profoundly human awareness. It is intellect that is ego-centric, and overwhelmingly emotional and feeling centered. Her voice knows and conveys more than concept, more than the lost conceptualism of words. I feel when her voice has reached me that she has smashed the isolated barriers of meaning and rushes through me like an intelligence. It is so much more interesting to me than, well, a lot of other things, like for example, having some dumb idea and then calling it a concept.

las gradas 002

even the stairs are obscuring the sky
even the stairs could obscure the sky
the stairs to the middle

Saturday, January 13, 2007

as it is saturday

and you are probably doing nothing, watching this will give you 10 minutes, 26 seconds of something good. thanks to hippoblog.

las gradas

bleachers at sports city

I locked up blogging for the week by going here with my camera. You will hear no more of my muttering though perhaps I will begin to wax poetic looking at these pictures. Perhaps you can too. The comments section is open...

long view through midday looking west at sports city

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

As much as I would hate to see any accomodation for labor or the environment

Via Serota:

“I don’t see [fast track authority] being extended without some accommodation for labor and the environment, as much as I hate to see that.” - Sen Charles Grassley (R-IA)
I mean, come on. Read the rest of Sirota for more understanding on Fast-Track. Sirota has been really good on un-bolting the whole Fast-Track lie wagon. But, are there NO consequences for this kind of thing?

honestly my rage is waning. . .

Escalade the car of RAGEThis is from the December 21 Doug Bower's column at Associated Content. I have tried to describe this phenomenon to people in the past. I think it hits gringos like another dull thud. They are used to it. People from other parts of the world are really shocked and dismayed.

"Whatever the cause, let's face it: There is an attitude of rage in America that dominates our lives. You cannot go to the supermarket, the mall, or drive down the street without seeing it or being a victim or perpetrator of it. My purpose mentioning this is not to harangue about the faults of America. I've left the United States and no longer living there have, in a real sense, forfeited the right to complain and gripe about the country of my birth. All I am doing is making an observation. I am saying that one of the most attractive things about where we live, in the center of México, is the lack of public rage that once made us too terrified to leave the confines of our home in America."

cynicism like golden breakfast flakes

may I recommend, without heartily endorsing, this DailyKos Diary,
Failure = Success (The Real New Way Forward). Or, to sum up in brief:

First, the GOP was willing to lie to get the country to go to war and succeeded primarily because decent people couldn't imagine them doing such a thing. Is it any less likely that they would design their "New Way Forward" as a domestic, political strategy aimed at minimizing the consequences of their failed policy? Second, from a diplomatic and military perspective the whole idea of a "surge" is irrational. Could it be that we're viewing it from the wrong perspective? Is the "surge" really domestic politics pursued by other means?
I would only add that the number of "decent people" convinced seems to have been relatively few, some 21% was necessary for a 51% majority.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

nihilism and the great blogging self-doubt

Good job to HLIB for an excellent summary of some good stuff. I seriously am still chewing on the blah-feme piece, Does the blogsphere have a subconcious, from a few days ago. But I think the charges of Nihilism stem in some measure from the MSM people feeling a bit put upon.

The printed and broadcasted message has lost its aura. News is consumed as a commodity with entertainment value. Instead of presenting blog entries as mere self promotion, we should interprete them as decadent artifacts that remotely dismantle the broadcast model.
The quote is from here. I mean, I really do remember thinking Walter Cronkite was a great guy, but please. Then I turned 8 and I thought he should have ridden Gerald Ford out of town on a Vietnamese tent-post. But he didn't. And there wasn't any aura. And the Iran-Contra people walked off scott-free too. What "aura" protected them but a Nihilistic MSM that forgives power and said to fuck with the rest of you. I ranted about other parts of that mentality a few days ago.

More interesting to me is when blah-feme says:
And, perhaps, the dreadfulness of the right's blogs does not have so much to do with its ideological underpinnings, but, precisely, with the extent to which the blogosphere is, dare I say it, ontologically at odds with modes of thought that seek to reduce, simplify or moralise the social field. At its best, blogging can and continues to hold the promise of refusing that kind of hectoring modality.
A hectoring modality present in Geert Lovink's nihilism, I might add. And so my blog sits next to the blog of Blondie Marketing Bimbo, and that of smiling Real-Estate Wizmo, and both of them are going to tell me how my blog could be better. They will say how I should use certain key-words and increase my traffic by this or that means. And the idea of offending anyone with a single political admission is again, what allowed the verneer to come smearing off the MSM like ... well enough of that simile. But political admissions are not to be avoided.

I think the very hopeful thing in the blah-feme post is this:
agency has a way of biting back, of digging in just when you think its all over, and it often does so when a number of ideas authored over a large time period are drawn together as a uniform resource: the blogoshpere might form a large part of that resource.
I don't see people at DailyKOS ranting and screaming about People Magazine or PBS (outside it's elitist, right-wing political talk-shows), or at the stuff that fills up our days with non-political mash. Yet David Brooks is still publishing his Mayberry-Swastika pieces in the New York Times with his aura all in tatters down around his dockers, and we just may see some of the highest people in US political history going to prison over the next few years. Maybe.

That won't happen because the aura came off, or because of Nihilism. I think it will happen because of good old American-style hope. Subconcious or not, the blogosphere does seem to have a conscience.

new single feed - Testing

In about a week I am going to ditch the blogger RSS and Atom feeds, so please change your feed address now to this one:

Murdoch's London Times

Don't you love how they introduce this article:

Global trade talks that are intended to improve the lives of billions of poor people stand on the brink of failure, Peter Mandelson, the European Trade Commissioner, has told The Times.
The altruism of the richest people in the world, sadly, may fail.

odd how people get here - Conceptualism and Neo-Conceptualism

From the introduction to Conceptualism at Saatchi:

Put simply, conceptual art is based upon the idea an object or act represents, rather than the appearance, of the art object itself. The idea fuels the process of production, but the resulting physical object is viewed more as documentation of the idea. By this definition, the purpose of the artwork is to engage the viewers' mind rather than their eye. However, it is difficult to accept this definition because when an object, photograph, or installation exists in the gallery or museum context our natural tendency is to evaluate it for its physical appearance and aesthetic value.
From the introduction to Neo-Conceptualism at Saatchi:
"Conceptual art is based on the idea an object or act represents, rather than the appearance of the art object itself. The purpose of the artwork is to engage the viewer's mind rather than their eyes. Conceptual art is a non-object, non-object-making, and non-art aesthetic modality. Exhibits, installations, and events often deal with re-definitions of art, language, and ideas." These ideas from the introduction to conceptual art in Unit 12 all apply to neo-conceptual art.
Ok, this is a snark-free post.
But these examples have a common theme that holds them together - the intellectual search for meanings. This highly intellectualized approach to art is the major characteristic of neo-conceptualism, and a very strong connection to earlier conceptual art.
That intellect searching for meaning right up there, is a crystallized, diamond-hard example of the western ego. Saatchi has nice pages though. Actually I rather like that they have Punk Rock and Rap/Hip-Hop right in there with this stuff. More as I keep reading. (God, I should read more about art.)

Free coffee mugs

To whoever can tell me which member of the Christian fundamentalist right-wing wrote this:

Will the preacher tell our young couple, “God loves you – but only you and people like you?” Or will the preacher say “God loves you and you must love your neighbors of all colors, cultures, or faiths as yourselves”? One message will lead to be a stinginess of spirit, an exclusion of the “undeserving”, and the other will lead to a generosity of spirit and inclusion of all.
Answer is here.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

lemonade is for suckers

so the taibbi piece in rolling stone is probly too good to just let pass. But no one ever goes and reads the whole thing, though I did cause sirota said to. I know lots of Republicans and they really are mostly stupid people who think that the 20th century was really nice and that a lot of great americans died in this big movie they made. And Taibbi doesn't hit at David Brooks at all, though I wish he would have smashed that guy a new one. I mean, these people don't even know that lemonade comes from lemons. They think it comes from the supermarket. Ok. My favorite part:

Our foreign policy initiatives in the area resemble attempts to mend fences with a neighbor whose lawn has been mussed by bringing him a tuna casserole cooked specially by wifey; only in Iraq, when casserole-presenting Dad ends up with his eyes gouged out and his skull charred black, hanging upside down from a telephone wire and impaled on the shards of the casserole dish, the neighborhood committee convenes and...decides to bake a bigger casserole.

Friday, January 05, 2007

30% eat race hate for breakfast

Whenever people ask me, I have always said, I didn't leave there cause of the president and his shit policies. I left cause of the thirty percent. They are worse than delusional. They really are re-making America in Russia's image. No disrepect to Russia, of course. Thanks to The Unapologetic Mexican for the excellent graphic.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

meaning - meaninglessness

People in power lash back hard against meaning being found in places they can't control. This is one of the obvious things we've seen from establishment Washington, people like David Broder and Cokie Roberts. THEY control meaning and they don't like it when you people find it, and make it and use it in their own little lives. Nothing pisses off Mexican's more than the idea that the EZLN is probably right. Mexico, for these people, is Monterrey and somehow it is going to become well a little bit better than St. Louis, but still, it is going to have a clean working infrastructure. The Washington Consensus dictates meaning for these people and any meaning you find, with your crafty little ego, well it is just a joke. Take your meaning and go buy expensive shoes, don't try using it to empower yourself. If you do, you'll meet with this sort of attitude:

"People felt a reverent attitude toward 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," says Tish Baldrige, who once worked there as Jacqueline Kennedy's social secretary and has been a frequent visitor since. "Now it's gone, now it's sleaze and dirt. We all feel terribly let down. It's very emotional. We want there to be standards. We're used to standards. When you think back to other presidents, they all had a lot of class. That's nonexistent now. It's sad for people in the White House. . . . I've never seen such bad morale in my life. They're not proud of their chief."
Sort of sounds like when a little brown person asks for democracy. Of course, Tish is complaining about Clinton, not the one in there now who kills little brown people faster than you can bat an eye.

Likewise, if you pursue meaning that Nacos or regular people can understand, then you too are threatening the power-base of establishment, Yale-based official meaninglessness. They haven't got meaning and they don't want it, because they've got the Chicago School of Economics for a religion, and a "market mechanism" to distribute it, and a pseudo-philosophy of "ironic meaningless" to prop it up with. Meaning at a more personal, or a communitarian level was dealt with and dismissed before NAFTA, before the FUCKYOU round of trade talks established the Pope, err, the American Enterprise Institute as the sole arbiter of meaning.

You want meaning? Catch up on the last 20 years of history first. Not history of art or politics, but just straight economics. You get no say in any of it, of course. A seat in a think-tank costs millions, then you can talk. And official Washington, or Monterrey, or Geneva, they will accept your meaning. They've proven that by the lily-whites of their fluttering empty eyes.
and could those whose meaning in life comes from carrying water stay off of my blog?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

ego and art making

american culture soviet collapseI've been thinking about deb fisher's statement,

I think ego and individualism makes art less interesting, that mining the individual self for meaning is, first and foremost, a total fucking bore in our confessional, therapeutic (I would say Sextonesque) culture.
I know where she is going. And I applaud the direction. But I can't make anything without my ego, without my personal problems and history front and center. I don't even try. My individual self is hardly over-mined. I think I just dreamt of a big cat jumping through a much smaller hole in a screen window. I am certain that what I call my ego is far removed from the problems we call ego in art making. And really, I have very little to go on except that my childhood, with all of the things I wish were not a part of it, was still one in which I was much closer mentally to places where cats jump through screened windows. I am certain that my ego was informing a lot of banal things, making them less banal.

I grew up and I judged everything, everything became banal before my eyes. And now I spend days and days searching for the perfect atmosphere in which dreams are real and not where Frodo jumps out of a hat. Look at these pictures. (with thanks to Things Magazine, as always.) I think I could have taken them in Pennsylvania. I think the move away from and misunderstanding of the "documentarist impulse" in American art making is as much a problem as is the mal-understood purpose of doing self-therapeutic work. We artists are therapizing and documenting and therapizing and documenting everyone and everything. It is so easy for me to imagine this Russian person behind this camera snapping away pictures in the snow.

american culture soviet collapseI don't think it is only an ego-less person who can relate to places, who can smell the food and some kind of heat inside a house like this one. I know I can hear the wet under my shoes on the linoleum just inside the door. That is not because I have eradicated myself and ascended to a new realm of being, but because I try to remember everything and feel what its meaning used to be.

I am trying, I believe, to create and find meaning that is suitable to the West, but without the West's hard delineations between ego and self and identity. I believe we already look at Deconstructionism as if it is a bizarre re-doing of Scholasticism. It is a method that was so useless to us that we only vaguely understand the collapse of meaning that followed. Do we return to a monastic method of utter supine prostration? Or do we hope to learn from a renaissance in the Third World? Or is there an option I've forgotten ? I've written a lot about Soviet this and that here. I still think the future of the US, if not the West, is one of Soviet style mega-collapse, and that perhaps could allow, very slowly, information from the outside world to permeate the otherwise rotting culture.

blogging, art and truth, New York Times

Bill Kristol is a war profiteersometimes, believe it or not, i stay up late reading things that other bloggers write. And on the odd occasion that I start to read what bloggers write about blogging I am a little struck by the pro-blogging world's reluctance to talk about what I think is still one of the chief reason's for the explosion in blogging and web 2.0 and the conversations that are so utterly deeply necessary as we watch our country falling apart.

I didn't start reading blogs because the New York Times was too expensive. I started reading blogs because the New York Times stood its ground and refused to tell the truth. And when they let the Gore vs Bush decision stand, when they refused to condemn it and insist on the impeachment of everyone from Sandra Day O'connor and moving to the right, well I needed to find another source for information. And all the goddamned web 2.0 in the world still has not quite satisfied me.

I am mildly interested in search engine optimization if it will get the entire staff of the Wall Street Journal fired, or at least if we can get, in print, how much these people have individually profited from their hobby war in Iraq. I would like to see Bill Kristol's personal financial statements, to learn why a man who has been consistently, indeniably wrong so many times in the past 5 years is writing for Time Magazine. Has his influence been to his own personal benefit in equal measure to the destruction he has rained down on the rest of us? Maybe if I had the same information about this Tom Friedman or whatever that persons name is at the New York Times, then I could read Roberta Smith's brilliant art analysis without thinking I have been contributing to the malignant acceptance of patent dishonesty that has consumed the "non-interactive" press.

Comment away. I don't mind comments. I mind big media in the pockets of Big Corporations. I would never have read the proudly non-interactive Joel Stein piece in the LA Times if not for an interactive blogger who linked to it, but the question is the same, how much has Stein or the crummy parent company of the La Times, or the crummy parents of Joel Stein profited from this filthy war, and from the humiliating degradation that all of us have suffered. Well, those of us who can actually think for ourselves anyway.