Monday, January 18, 2010

Bush-Era's Wittgenstein &...

Since Thom brings up Kocik (post below), here's a short excerpt of an essay on quietism & value neutrality in the age of Bush, as juxtaposed to the multi-directional but referential work in Wittgenstein, Ranciere, and Kocik.  The essays are writing thru the question (or filter): how has art and criticism--aesthetics--played out in the era of Bush?  I'm toying with the idea of titling the book "Necrophiliology," but this implies that most if not all of it is negative critique. Which is not the case.  Despite going negative a lot more than Thom (post below), I'm (hopefully) not putting together a book that slams works of art and particular movements.  Pretty sure not, but rather a series of tenuously connected pieces that I do think seek to examine and dance with, if not always that which I love, then at least what fascinates and moves me:

"Were this a different world"

scraps from various publications or media—


Hugo Ball


"A not me non-point of view point of view."


I’d like to think that as a kid I sensed the mimetic worth (ladder) in this: failure-seeing the culture that brought me up, capitalism’s product, one way, and now another, and then another


such that I could resituate myself in the world-box, refractive mirror of sorts


looking at things with a new-self-same pair of eyes,

“maybe learn something new” (said my grandpa with that voice people say it with)


and essay museums post-proliferation of the differend


--I'd keep going yet same output/different day:

veiled metaphysical treatises, crafted thought-experiments so well-refined and bloated they drift off in a heavenly burst of theory wind,


catch an updraft of value-neutrality until hitting the

outer reaches of our interpersonal activational atmosphere—




* * *


so pervasive in contemporary art’s World, now too (conceptualism)


—not like a garden hose but a leaky bathroom faucet tied in a loose, makeshift knot. Works of art and acts of violence.  Or acts of art and works of violence


art as a kind of violence.


A contrast here.  Artaud’s echo, this literal and symbolic marriage


—Ranciere’s "senseless sense."  And Wittgenstein.


a violent groping for clarity, the attempted and failed execution of skepticism.  Philosophical Investigations, as I read it, has all the markings of plastic surgery’s very placticity: Sentences that are upside down but don’t lack argument.  The sense all of us at some time or another have felt that the world, though so close as to be in our own hands, is I—and so demands only questions that lack affirmation


(twenty-nine percent of the sentences in the Investigations end in a question mark.)


an inner-violence, an admission of Cartesian doubt, bad faith too


the notion that the world need not exist at all, with aesthetic production at once both an expression of this notion and its negation—nonsense.


Polemically anti-metaphysical (we cannot move beyond the bounds of language), not the writer needing to obliterate, transgress, or kill off that which is familiar (because the familiar is such only by way of deciding that it be so) nonetheless


Wittgenstein’s Notes


that art can, in ways that slip beyond our language, bring one

back home, home from


The dialectic in Wittgenstein is collage-as-radical re-narration


--continual reenactment: re-arranging things like so, building them up, knocking them down, and then arranging once more (desire for proximal stimulus)


“this is not a rehearsal,” one wants to say to Crispin Wright: Wittgenstein takes this to be action, not “mere” fiction, but fiction-making




—until a picture (not a total picture) emerges, and with it a kind of submerged being, as Baldwin calls it, which is why, in part, Wittgenstein is so central to avant-garde poetry after World War II despite his political quietism.  The dialectic, in other words, is in the over- and under-lap of all possible language games, the fact that every language game we can think of houses everyday terms of expression that we can decide to use differently, to make them into a new language game (a new “form of life,” a new sociopolitical or cultural landscape becomes incessant question for the socially concerned poet, mosquito buzz in the ear of the necrophile).


as with Derrida’s trace, or Hegel’s vestige, there remain the ghostly echoes of the old in the new.  What was originally artifice is now integral to clapping


with only its history serving us as a reminder of past use, what was necessary for understanding now seems vestigial, ornamental.


“It’s all ornamental,” he says he wrote of someone saying. 


Conceptualism, for instance, its popularity and its phenomenon, comes immediately to mind as I write this.   Reenactment of Bush’s Ownership Society, this engine’s engine a territorial carving, reduplicative, data 

mined, gross


negligence.  Repositions the want ad as container a steroidal markdown in the service of self-sale, where “self” is busty, muscular—o o what the archeologists of the now will have said:


“evidence, evidence!  Google scorched this earth.

 This was a reenactment of Dale Smith's negative critique.  For the record.

--Wittgenstein’s Cartesian pathologies, his self-alienation and now Adorno’s writings on alienation.  In both instances foreignness, dominating discourses,


exile are center stage: in Adorno’s case physical displacement, flight--


retraction, while in Wittgenstein’s case exile tout court.  Exile from the world.


Description of exile’s consequences, its gestures (suicidal). 



The FTATHIS stumbles over carbonized shapes


and if resisting in performing submission to (switching the dial for signals)


this landscape

without admitting 

that art, too, is commodity insofar as it has exchange value (poetry is cheap and its cheapness 


But only the necropheliac makes strategic use of a lateness while devaluing production,


Our poetic habits in the era of Bush, when I read (retrospectively) I see his lips moving on the tv, the famous


parody of the monkey underneath an e-card.  And don't we all.


the two most dangerous horns of aesthetics in the age of Neo-liberalism, fantasy of a leisure class, now arguably interrupted by trade secrets in the lending industry leaking (wiki leaks needs money at moment, fyi): 

(subjecthoodless) indivdualism and progress.  

In the first instance we stupefy ourselves (at best) and set the preconditions for the second instance—by force (of blogging) if need be.  The swift blade of this grand narrative of bottom-up anti-narrative is only possible when we have the time to think.  And today we have little, if any time to think. The artisan cannot "make time" most days, despite Ranciere's demand here.  And so in contemporary aesthetics, in a great deal of “post-Marxist” theory a great deal of reflexive/reactive self-reflexivity reenacting political engagements with language, and as parroting turns inward the critique circles institutional concern in a provincial rather than local faux pluralism,

 and organizers in Columbia are so far away.  This, one platform

becomes a necrophiliac’s goddamn lunch 

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