Archives for December 2013

A Bauhaus Christmas

I find that often, on holiday breaks, my thoughts sort of meander over a lot of what I like. And I find myself thinking about the Bauhaus a good deal this year. The influence of the Bauhaus is probably greater even than the prevailing understanding suggests, and that understanding suggests they were very influential, indeed. From architecture to furniture, to typography, and painting, and theatre, but perhaps most significantly, as the final expression of a very rarified German bourgeois sensibility and intelligence, but also one that encompesed a collective and communal belief in social change. Now, there has also been, predictably, a backlash over the last decade. And that backlash is … [Read more...]

The Off Stage and a Denuded World

"If negative dialectics calls for the self-reflection of thinking, the tangible implication is that if thinking is to be true – if it is to be true today, in any case – it must also be a thinking against itself. If thought is not measured by the extremity that eludes the concept, it is from the outset in the nature of the musical accompaniment with which the SS liked to drown out the screams of its victims." Theodor Adorno "What are we to make of a mainstream media, along with the American public that appears more concerned about Kim Kardashian flaunting her post-baby body than about the Obama administration ordering a drone strike in Yemen that killed 17 innocent civilians who were part … [Read more...]

Art Notes

In clinical pictures of schizophrenia, according to Gabel, "a degradation of the dialectic of the totality (of which dissociation is the extreme form) and a degradation in the dialectic of becoming (of which catatonia is the extreme form) seem to be intimately interwoven." Imprisoned in a flat universe bounded on all sides by the spectacle's screen, the consciousness of the spectactor has only figmentary interlocutors which subject it to a one-way discourse on their commodities and the politics of those commodities. The sole mirror of this consciousness is the spectacle in all its breadth, where what is staged is a false way out of a generalized autism. Guy Debord The topic of … [Read more...]

Sort of Awake

One thing is becoming increasingly clear; the infantilization of society. It is obvious in almost every area of life today. But, there are secondary, or parallel themes attached to this encouragement to stay childish. One is the creation of constant needs. As Jonathan Crary says, the term "24/7" is one without real meaning, except to suggest a "ceaslessness of needs and their incitement, but also their perpetual non-fulfillment". What is worth looking at, and Crary makes this point, too, is that today people in the West sleep about, on average, six and a half hours a night. A generation ago it was eight. And at the turn of the 20th century, it was ten. The pre industrial revolution saw … [Read more...]


Several things have bounced around in my head this week. One is that I think it is hard for critical thinkers, for analysts of culture and of society, meaning politics, to know when perspectives change. When a corrective sort of response becomes something other then intended. I was reminded of Marcuse's essay on tolerance. "Tolerance toward that which is radically evil now appears as good because it serves the cohesion of the whole on the road to affluence or more affluence. The toleration of the systematic moronization of children and adults alike by publicity and propaganda, the release of destructiveness in aggressive driving, the recruitment for and training of special forces, the … [Read more...]

Art of Identity

There have been a number of discussions I have come across, recently, about this term 'privilege' (or really, the privilege theory) and also about class, and both, to a degree, in relationship with art. Before getting into these debates, I wanted to quote some extracts from a piece on Art and Class, written by Ben Davis. But even before I do that, I wanted to put this dicussion, the discussion of art, culture, and U.S. society, capitalist society, in the proper light. This is a nation which recently implemented a drastic cut in food stamps. This is a nation where almost fifty million people go to bed hungry and of that number … [Read more...]