Two Paths

George Grosz, American, born Germany. 1893-1959
A Victim of Society (Ein Opfer der Gesellschaft ) (later titled Remember Uncle August, the Unhappy Inventor). 1919
Oil and graphite on canvas with photomontage and collage of papers and buttons, 19 5/16 x 15 9/16″ (49 x 39.5 cm)
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne-Centre de création industrielle, Paris. Purchase, 1977
CNAC / MNAM / Dist. Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY,
© 2006 Estate of George Grosz / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


“In brief, there is no reason and no excuse for not considering the shaman as a severe neurotic and even a psychotic. In addition, shamanism is often also dystonic… Briefly stated, we hold that the shaman is mentally deranged. This is also the opinion of Kroeber and Linton.” – George Devereaux, 1956

“People are astonished that every year there are sixty thousand cases of suicide in Europe, and those only the recognized and recorded cases–and excluding Russia and Turkey; but one ought rather to be surprised that there are so few. Every person of the present day, if we go deep enough into the contradiction between his conscience and his life, is in a state of despair.

Not to speak of all the contradictions between modern life and the conscience, the permanently armed condition of Europe together with its profession of Christianity is alone enough to drive anyone to despair, to doubt of the sanity of humankind, and to terminate an existence in this senseless and brutal world. This contradiction, which is a quintessence of all the other contradictions, is so terrible that to live and to take part in it is only possible if one does not think of it if one is able to forget it.” – Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God is Within You

Giotto di Bondone, St. Francis Preaching to the Birds


The Prayer of Saint Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of thy piece,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love,
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.

A Song of Sri Ramakrhishna
Dwell O Mind, Within Yourself

Dwell O mind, within yourself;
Enter no other’s home.
If you but seek there, you will find
All you are searching for.

God, the true Philosopher’s Stone,
Who answers every prayer,
Lies hidden deep within your heart,
The richest gem of all.

How many pearls and precious stones
Are scattered all about
The outer court that lies before
The chamber of your heart!

from Jiddi Krishnamurti, “To Be A Human Being”

“What we call happiness or ecstasy is, to me, creative thinking. And creative thinking is the infinite movement of thought, emotion and action. That is, when thought, which is emotion, which is action itself, is unimpeded in its movement, is not compelled or influenced or bound by an idea (my italics)and does not proceed from the background of tradition or habit, then that movement is creative. So long as thought- and I won’t repeat each time emotion and action [so long as thought is circumscribed, held by a fixed idea, or merely adjusts itself to a background or condition, and, therefore, becomes limited, such thought is not creative.”

It follows from the transparently obvious statement by Krishnamurti that nobody claiming to be an artist who began and then continued blindly following the dictates of his instructors at any art school in America is not engaged in creative thinking, emotion or action. It should be self-evident to anyone today that creative art is not something one copies verbatim from an art instructor. Nor is demolishing whatever traditions one thinks one might find from the past because they’ve already been demolished. One ridiculous notion today is that people think art is people with great taste replaying the destruction of European painting by making the fifty-millionth Rauschenberg assemblage, collage,  or debris installation.

Of course Rauschenberg and his millions of identical clones isn’t engaged in true creativity at all. His is the creative thinking we come to expect from Madison Avenue or Bonwit Teller windows (where Johns, Rauschenberg, Warhol initially practiced their stellar creative thinking). His is the creative thinking of the Novelty Gift Shop. Find that one particular visual “idea” that’s a sure crowd pleaser and patent it with endless repetitions through the decades (Johns, Frankenthaler, Stella, Noland and Washington Color School).

I see all kinds of these novelty items at local art fairs. How many Op Artists can you name? They were quite the rage for a few years in the 70s. You can see the paintings (including a Rothko) festooning all the different sets of Mad Men through various seasons.

Does anyone think that this kind of gimmickism and jokesterism is what Krishnamurti is describing when he talks about creative thinking?

“What we call happiness or ecstasy is, to me, creative thinking. And creative thinking is the infinite movement of thought, emotion and action. That is, when thought, which is emotion, which is action itself, is unimpeded in its movement, is not compelled or influenced or bound by an idea (my italics)and does not proceed from the background of tradition or habit, then that movement is creative. So long as thought- and I won’t repeat each time emotion and action [so long as thought is circumscribed, held by a fixed idea, or merely adjusts itself to a background or condition, and, therefore, becomes limited, such thought is not creative.”

I think that the issue of creativity can be debated. Obviously. But what can’t be debated is that a stuffed yak with a tire around its neck and slapdash paint marks, a urinal, or a silkscreen car crash are not the equivalent of the truly creative acts of human beings, not even to mention artists, going back centuries whose hand made works dwell both in the deep imagination as well as proceed from the deep imagination.

Above is a Vasarely, one of the biggest of all the op artists. But he could be making any of millions of different optical brain teasers of the kind people love. Why, then, isn’t a Rubik’s Cube a work of art? A Rubik’s cube isn’t a work of art for the same reason all the other novelty optical stuff at art fairs and shopping malls don’t qualify as real art. And if an artist picks one up and puts it into a museum it doesn’t make it a work of art, either. It simply shows that art has all but ceased  to exist in this society on the deep level where art has always existed.

Duchamp putting a hatrack into an art gallery doesn’t make it a work of art. For one thing, a narcissistic intellectual is no more an artist than is the average non-intellectual putting together the pieces below creating art with his “creative” solutions. 

Having some hare-brained idea and then carrying it out perfunctorily or mechanically is not making art. Creativity involves spontaneous creative thinking not compelled or influenced or bound by an idea.

The great tragedy of our times is that there are few, if any, artists who even understand this basic criteria for making real art, as our society as a whole has adopted the notion that anything and everything is art. It should be obvious that hobby art and serious art are two distinctly different activities. Yet there is no notion of that whatsoever today.

And I’ve yet to find a single artist who even questions this state of affairs, much less bothers to make any objections or to clarify for themselves what it is that makes something art. This is why I concluded above that few, if any, artists today have the slightest notion what would constitute a work of art and what wouldn’t. While they consider themselves great thinkers and arbiters about the qualities of this or that artwork, they haven’t the foggiest definition of what art is therefore it follows they’re judging without any criteria whatsoever what is good or bad in a work of art.

Of course, the PostModernist “thinker” Jean Baudrillard, pronounced  in the 1980s that art no longer existed and it was all now simulacra. He’s certainly right insofar that he and his fellow art intellectuals, galleries and museums have constructed. But other than that it’s false and an obvious lie. Whether in his muddled head Baudrillard believed it true is anybody’s guess.

To say that art now consists entirely of simulacra is the kind of grandiosity that makes even the Trumps or Clintons seem sane by comparison. Do the postmodernists actually think their crackpot notions have revealed the true nature of reality? Apparently so, as while they turn their hyper-critical faculties on every other area of thought going back millennia irrelevant for having been transcended by Postmodernist thought, the thought somehow never occurs to them to turn their own astonishing analytic techniques and notions on their own House of Cards.

Madmen, perhaps, who believe that the howling (with laughter) Tower of Babel they live in has thoroughly penetrated and exposed the falsity of all the various philosophical systems that have preceded their own majestic insights.

Welcome to the collapse of civilization.



About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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2 Responses to Two Paths

  1. Eric Wayne says:

    “And I’ve yet to find a single artist who even questions this state of affairs, much less bothers to make any objections or to clarify for themselves what it is that makes something art.” It’s so weird that you keep insisting on this. I am sure there are thousands, if not tens or hundreds of thousands of artists that question this shit all the time. The real question that occurs to me at this particular juncture is how many of those tens or hundreds of thousands of artists think they are the ONLY one, the “true outsider”? Bah! What grandstanding. What self-glorifying pomposity. There’s a whole army of artists on your side.

  2. trueoutsider says:

    Eric, you’re simply misreading what I’m writing. By “state of affairs” I’m not referring to criticism of the financial corruption or picking out which Modernists/PostModernists are making good art. I’m talking about accepting the notion that a urinal or pile of pigment in the corner of a gallery or Marina exposing her tushy are art in the first place.

    I’m talking about asking the basic question, “Why is it that I assume a urinal is a work of art? Why is it that I assume Marina Abramovic standing around in the buff in a Museum is making “art”?”

    I don’t view it as art. Nor do I view the vast majority of the production of Contempo artists to be art. Commercial art, illustration, craft yes. Art no. In other words I draw a distinction between fine art and commercial art that I’m unaware of any other artist doing today. In other words, you and every one else I can think of accept prima facie that these anti-art gestures by Duchamp, Dadaists, and so on early in the 20th Century are artwork. They were, in fact, put forward specifically as anti-art. Why is it you and everyone else accept them to be art? That’s the question I’m asking. And it’s the one you and your companions aren’t answering.

    So yes, true outsider. Certainly. What else would someone who thinks outside the boxed in realm of, at this point, a faith-based view of Contemporary Art whose members accepts everything that’s put in front of their faces, no matter how ridiculous or ludicrous, to be art.

    Outside the Con Art World, yes, certainly many if not most people don’t view Duchamp’s urinal, hatracks, bicyicle wheels as art. Right? But those going through the Contempo Art wings, etc. take everything at face value. If the Museum World says it’s art then it IS art. I don’t think that. Get it? Am I coming through to you yet?

    So what I am saying is true, right? I don’t see any “army of artists” on my side as I’ve yet to hear from any Contemporary Artist out there looking for viability inside the MoMA defined art world write in to say that they agree with me that Marina isn’t an artist and her performances have nothing whatsoever to do with artmaking. Or anyone else for that matter. So it’s a simple factual statement. Hardly a grandiose claim. Not in the least claiming some kind of special “art status”. In effect, what I’m saying as I view most art as little more than commercial commodities exchanged in a global marketplace. They’re outside of what my definition of art is. And my definition of art doesn’t coincide with any other artist I know.

    Big deal. So what? Why does it make you so angry? That’s the question I have for you. Why is it so intolerable that I don’t believe in what you believe in?

    To repeat, in hopes that I can break through your insistence on a delusional perception of me and what I’m writing, I am referring to the “State of Affairs” that by unanimous agreement of those inside the Con Art World, a urinal or a pile of detritus are works of art. All of the detritus being claimed as art depend entirely on Duchamp’s urinal being accepted as art. On top of that, Duchamp was a proven liar as shown by historical research by a few reputable art historians, not conspiracy theorists. Yet this fact is entirely ignored by the art world, as if not just plagiarizing another artists work but claiming that work as one’s own doesn’t delegitimize Duchamp’s urinal. Not at all. Charlatanism is the essence of Modernism then? Nobody at all objects to Duchamp being a liar and a thief? Why not? Do you? What I’m saying is that the buttplug isn’t a work of art at all. A “Concept” doesn’t make something an artwork. Rembrandt and van Goghs made paintings. They weren’t painting their concepts.

    If you want to find me insane, wrong, an idiot all well and good. But please stop this nonsense of thinking that what I’m writing and thinking are on the same page as you and other Contemporary Artists. They aren’t

    To repeat, saying that I’m alone in my beliefs is hardly “grandstanding” or “self-glorifying pomposity.” I can’t imagine how you can see somebody as being self-glorifying who hardly says anything about his own work or even shows it for the most part, believing that nobody can see it in the first place. In the second place a digital image on a computer screen isn’t my work. And in the third place, I don’t have any judgment whatsoever about whether my work is good, bad or in between. I do my work and stick it in a drawer. I don’t think that anything I or anyone else makes registers at all as art, or perhaps at most dimly, unless the object is seen in its reality.
    You believe elsewise. Great. Why not say why you do then rather than personally attacking me in really low troll-like fashion?

    Where do you get the idea that I’m saying that I’m superior to you or anybody else? Because I don’t agree with you about the nature of both art and reality?

    Think about it for a few minutes. How can I be “grandstanding” when I’m writing what is obviously viewed as gibberish by the vast majority of reading it? Grandstanding is what Julian Schnabel, Basquiat and the other 80s wunderkinds are all about. Making a big spash. Being a “Sensation”. My work nor anything I write have anything whatsoever to do with grandstanding. I do little pen and ink drawings about 14 x 17 inches. Black and white. Stuff that has no place whatsoever in the grandstanding Contemporary Art world. How much more obvious can that be?

    I also make no claims for my work. It’s quiet, unassuming, workmanlike, visionary and entirely inward directed and inward focussed. Again, these are characteristics that one doesn’t find in Contemporary Art. That’s because I don’t like Contemporary Art or how it looks. I don’t like it’s bombast and aggressiveness. I find it irritating. I find the big metal sculptures fascistic and inhuman. By and large I find almost all of the art totally dehumanized and dehumanizing.

    Yes. There are some exceptions. And I used to actually like the work of de Kooning and some others many years ago. But that’s largely disappeared after researching more about it and thinking about it and seeing the kind of permanent swamp of nothingness that all of it has deposited the human race into.

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