Archives for April 2016

The Predicament of Immanence

"I saw an angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Michelangelo "Nature produces similarities; one need only think of mimicry. The highest capacity for producing similarities, however, is man’s. His gift for seeing similarity is nothing but a rudiment of the once powerful compulsion to become similar and to behave mimetically. There is perhaps not a single one of his higher functions in which his mimetic faculty does not play a decisive role." Walter Benjamin (On The Mimetic Faculty) The relationship of art and ideology is very complex. At the most rudimentary level the idea of agit-prop theatre, for example, is nothing except ideology. That is its intention. Does that … [Read more...]

I Can’t See The Back of My Head

"The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz." Zvi Rex "Bourgeois anti-Semitism has a specific economic purpose: to conceal domination in production." Adorno and Horkheimer "Mimetic desire does not always result in conflict, but it frequently does so for reasons that the tenth commandment makes evident. The object I desire in envious imitation of my neighbor is one he intends to keep for himself, to reserve for her own use; she will not let someone snatch it away without combat. My desire will be thwarted, but in place of accepting this and moving on toward another object, nine times out of ten my desire will resist this and become even more intense in imitating the desire … [Read more...]

The Stare of Empty Eyes

"All work is a crime." Herman Schuurman (1924) "Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition." Jacques Barzun "Art is the tree of is the tree of death." William Blake Jacques Barzun wrote a sort of fascinating small book titled The Use and Abuse of Art (echoing Nietzsche). It is interesting not least because of its clarity. Like Kenneth Clark, Barzun is terribly out of fashion. And yes, he's pretty conservative, too. But he is also a deeply perceptive observer of culture, at times. At the beginning of the book he writes, in light of Schiller's book on poetics... "What does Schiller tell us? First, that modern man is is split -- or as we … [Read more...]

Already Written

"Dislocation can do the job of analysis {Le dépaysement fait office d'analyse}. Being a white man among the blacks is like being an analyst among the whites." Octave Mannoni "Guilt feelings may be considered a subtle form of death. Time passes by slowly, tearing us to pieces. We foresee a sentence already written out and unalterable. The event is unredeemable, almost like an ancient and cursed action." Giancarlo Signorini The role that aesthetics plays in the overall cultural drama of society is complex. Aesthetics affect everything and are often overlooked completely. I have been struck recently with how pervasive are the effects on a society without any real aesthetic … [Read more...]