Above: Francis Bacon’s pathetically inept imitation of a Diego Velazquez painting from the 17th century. Corny mock-horror taken as the fruit of artistic genius by people who didn’t know any better, not being familiar with the paintings of the real Velazquez. Bacon is one of the cornerstones of Postmodernist fakery. Seldom has pompous grandiosity said so little while at the same time achieving so little. The astounding thing about this as Bacon and all of Modernism have actually been taken to be the proof of Progress in Art. From the Spanish Golden Age to Keith Haring, what we see around us is the fruit of the steady progress from art’s primitive past into its glorious present.
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”-Philip K. Dick
D: What is reality?
B: Reality must always be real. It has no names or forms but is what underlies them. It underlies all limitations, being itself limitless. It is not bound in any way. It underlies unrealities, being itself Real. It is that which is. It is as it is. It transcends speech and is beyond description such as being or non-being.”
D: Do Buddhists deny the world whereas Hindu philosophy admits its existence but calls it unreal, isn’t that so?
B: It is only a difference of point of view.
D: They say that the world is created by Divine Energy. Is the knowledge of unreality due to the veiling by illusion?
B: All admit creation by the Divine Energy, but what is the nature of this energy? It must be in conformity with the nature of its creation.
D: Are there degrees of illusion?
B: Illusion itself is illusory. It must be seen by somebody outside it, but how can such a seer be subject to it?
So, how can he speak of degrees of it? – Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
The wisdom and mysticism of the East have, therefore, very much to say to us, even when they speak their own inimitable language. They serve to remind us that we in our culture possess something similar, which we have already forgotten, and to direct our attention to the fate of the inner man, which we set aside as trifling.- C. G. Jung
The difficulty of grasping “shamanism” lies not so much in the concept itself in the gaze of those who use it. The academic analysis of shamanism will always be the rational study of the nonrational–in other words, a self-contradictory proposition or a cul-de-sac. – Jeremy Narby, The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge
In his book, After Virtue, philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre likened the present cultural moment to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. He argued that the West had abandoned reason and the tradition of the virtues in giving itself over to the relativism that is now flooding our world today. We are governed by what MacIntyre called emotivism: the idea that all moral choices are nothing more than expressions of what the choosing individual feels is right.
MacIntyre said that a society that governed itself according to emotivist principles would look a lot like the modern West, in which the liberation of the individual’s will is thought to be the greatest good. A virtuous society, by contrast, is one that shares belief in objective moral goods and the practices necessary for human beings to embody those goods in community. – Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option
Emotivism is the religion of Postmodernism, which is little more than another word for Solipsism. Solipsism = the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist. The fashionable PoMo that first took hold in Paris before its total conquest of art programs in American universities is an updating of Descartes’ crackpot notions about reality. Another name for Postmodernism is Nihilism. The Pseudo-Poetics of Nihilism. Postmodernism’s singular concern is with meaningless linguistic games that when comprehensible are no more than ordinary insights a teenage kid would have. The incomprehensible part is the 90 percent of it ground out in Ivy League universities by a lot bullshitters who no doubt randomly cut and paste snippets from the internet without bothering to provide any context whatsoever.
Friedrich Nietzsche, with his similarly convoluted and unconvincing philology depicted Christianity as nothing more than a linguistic hoax. It’s written out tediously in Beyond and Good Evil . Within a few years, Nietzshe turns to spewing out incomprehensible gibberish that is what sets the pattern for philosophy of the PostModern variety. Small wonder that the absurd philosophy of Nietzsche has led not only to the absurdities of PostModernism, not to mention their great appeal for psychopaths with delusions of omnipotence like Hitler. Clearly the primary architects of early Postmodernism had psychopathic characteristics, as Louis Menand characterizes Paul de Man in the pages of the New Yorker.
It’s a rare event in a periodical like the New Yorker to have another academic, particularly one of de Man’s stature, referred to as a psychopath. And de Man is hardly atypical compared to the delusions of grandeur his fellow Deconstructions possessed.
At any rate, being a PostModernist myself (at least when I write my blog if not in my artwork), I’m just making all this shit up off the top of my head. Perhaps some Yale grad or a student of Harold Bloom can correct everything I’m writing in Deconstructionist prose.
The following passage from Nietzsche’s Human, All too Human is an example of how he was the model for the convoluted and unconvincing writing of those to follow (e.g., Lacan, Derrida, Baudrillard, Foucault and fifty thousand others all saying exactly the same thing. Nothing. Friedrich the Great’s pseudo-poetic language set the protoype for the mentally deranged style of writing of the PoMo MoMA-ites. It was, of course, given added fascination due to the convolutions going on in syphilis-riddle brain. Hey. That’s what I’ve read anyway, in the history books. Same disease that got Al Capone. I’m still hoping for Al’s late philosophical works to be deconstructed by the latest graduates in Literary Theory at Harvard.
Christianity as antiquity.– When we hear the ancient bells growling on a Sunday morning we ask ourselves: Is it really possible! This, for a Jew, crucified two thousand years ago, who said he was God’s son? The proof of such a claim is lacking. Certainly the Christian religion is an antiquity projected into our times from remote prehistory; and the fact that the claim is believed – whereas one is otherwise so strict in examining pretensions – is perhaps the most ancient piece of this heritage. A god who begets children with a mortal woman; a sage who bids men work no more, have no more courts, but look for the signs of the impending end of the world; a justice that accepts the innocent as a vicarious sacrifice; someone who orders his disciples to drink his blood; prayers for miraculous interventions; sins perpetrated against a god, atoned for by a god; fear of a beyond to which death is the portal; the form of the cross as a symbol in a time that no longer knows the function and ignominy of the cross — how ghoulishly all this touches us, as if from the tomb of a primeval past! Can one believe that such things are still believed?
Nietzsche ridiculous recounting of the story of Christ reads more like venomous rage by someone at the local asylum than it does reasoned philosophical thought. And little else he wrote gives me any reason to think his writing was little more than impotent rage at the academicians of the time who rejected his deranged thinking. Plus Richard Wagner and other artistic geniuses stealing Zarathustra’s Thunder from on High. Of course, in the deranged 20th Century of the Zarathustrian Modernistists (see Clyfford Still) that kind of muddled thinking would naturally have become all the rage. The Theosophists were a bit more cool headed, though equally boring when it comes down to having to look at their paintings.
Heres’a typically unenlightening Nietzschean “aphorism” from The Birth of Tragedy:
Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in “another” or “better” life.
I particularly appreciate all the commas. Makes it hard to rush through it, missing all the subtle thinking.
While this description bears no resemblance to Christianity it strikes me as a rather perfect summation description of Nietzche-inanity. To wit, his complete disgust with the human being, who must be transcended by the übermensch, a figure who (surprise surprise) turned out to have great appeal to life-loving people like the Nazis, Stalinists, Leopold and Loeb, as well as PostModernists with their striking academic joie de vivre. Is this a comparison between PostModernists and Nazis? (just making sure you’re actually reading the text and not imagining things… that means you, Eric).
Nietzsche has great appeal to all kinds of power hungry people. Try reading Will to Power. Francis Bacon was a big fan. You get the idea. Christianity is about Loving one’s neighbor as oneself. Nietzsche appeals to those who are itching to invade Poland, invade the Middle East, or take over the entire University systems Humanities departments.
Much like Hitchens and Dawkins with their fundamentalists atheism, morality is one of those things that gets in the way of having to follow naive rules like the Geneva Conventions, much less outdated Monotheistic religions. Freedom Art, which is the term Rockefeller used to refer to the Abstract Expressionists. And Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to loot. And I don’t know about you guys, but it looks to me Rocky’s heirs in the global kleptocracy have just about reached the limit in their looting. As McDougall writes in Freedom Round the Corner.
The most striking—and certainly most controversial—of McDougall’s arguments is that America has been, from the beginning, a nation of hustlers. That term, initially jarring, becomes more persuasive as McDougall fleshes out his meaning. Americans in every period of their history, he shows, have been hustlers not simply in the negative sense of “self-promoters, scofflaws, occasional frauds, and peripatetic self-reinventers” but also in the more positive sense of “builders, doers, go-getters, dreamers, hard workers, inventors, organizers, [and] engineers.”
He got that one right.
The painting at the top is a great example of both a self-promoting fraud and the joys of free expression. Francis Bacon in his paintings evinces the kind of disgust with life and human beings themselves that the PostModernists bring to perfection in their mind-numbing prose. Duchamp, of course, being their leader in pointing the way to clear thinking achieved his purpose of returning art to the service of the mind. And if you believe that one, I have a few urinals in my garage to sell you as well.
Duchamp was no slouch in his portrayal of the degraded female form, as Bacon had pretty much covered all the ground there was examing male mutilation. In Etant Donnes Duchamp gives of a good facsimile of the Black Dahlia’s mutilated corpse complete with spread legs and exposed vagina. Very tasteful stuff. Well, Jasper Johns and Bob Rauschenberg loved it. It’s one of those things that I guess only the truly great artists can see and appreciate. Plus everyone else combing through S/M photographs to jerk off to.
So great that Duchamp took art to such heights that one could only surmount them by having live fuckfests of the Santiago Sierra variety. As a critique of Capitalism no less.
Hat’s off to Karen Finley for stuffing yams up her ass though. I’m hoping Marina will spray Cheez Whiz on her tits and have one of her art critic fans lick it off at her next MoMA performance. Too bad Arthur Danto’s dead or he’d no doubt be first in line. Wait a minute, I think this might be an archival photo of the younger Arthur. Apparently they’ve cropped off the part of the photograph showing him holding the can of Cheez Whiz.
Ah yes, but never fear. I’m reassured by Eric Wayne in his comment on my previous post that I’m not alone. There are not just thousands of other artists who are just like me and think just like I do. Tens or Hundreds of Thousands of artists just like me who think they are the only ONE (his caps). And all this time I thought I was alone! That I was the only ONE! How deluded I’ve been all this time. What a relief. Now all I need to do is find where the So-Called Resistance is located.
I hope you haven’t run off again in one of your periodic snits, Eric. I really do enjoy talking to you, even with the insults and the derision I have to admit to a growing fondness. The bit mystery for me is why in the hell you take what I write seriously? It’s not as if I really give a shit about any of this bullshit art talk. Critiques of PostModernism? What do I care? I just like to reminisce back to the Golden Days when America was really great. When Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol first showed the Beer Cans and silkscreened Marilyns! It was mindblowing man! You should have been there. Joseph Beuys and his coyote. Acconci jerking off under the stairs. Art was changed forever. Before that it had just been a lot of boring paintings.
I was inspired. F0r my graduate show I went out to the park and and had my film crew document me taking a shit in a trash can. I showed the film on a slow motion tape loop for the entire art school. They were awestruck. I’d outdone Bruce Nauman’s film of him greasepainting his testicles in slow motion.
Anyway, it’s good to see that your teacher Paul McCarthy, a man Bacon and Duchamp would no doubt have greatly admired had they lived long enough to see the video below. Here he is in a performance that, while illuminating, I think was surpassed by the Iggy Pop’s performance where he pulled his dick out on stage and sang “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” When I see this film it takes me back to art school… how much our teachers taught us about art and what Avant-Garde Art in America was really all about. How to think. And I give thanks to Duchamp for having saved us from retinal art (as he called it) and returning it to the service of the mindless.
By the way, Eric, I took a look at the George Bush sodomizing a pig you were so impressed with. Have no idea why you find it something that needs to be acknowledged for its power (or whatever phrase you used). I’d be fascinated to know just what you find so edifying or artistically pleasing in the work exactly. One thing you might answer is: Would it be just as meaningful and powerful if it were Obama or Clinton sodomizing a pig or does it have to be a Republican President? How about Bill Cosby sodomizing a white woman he’d drugged? Roman Polanski sodomizing the 13-year old girl he’s still facing jailtime in the US for, were not France so enthusiastic about sheltering an admitted child molester?
Would it work with anyone else besides Bush, not to mention the fact that it’s not a very convincing Bush. In fact, had it not been titled with Bush’s name I would never have guessed it was supposed to be George Bush. Does that matter at all? I mean prior to McArthy artists like Daumier, Grosz, David Levine and whomever were required to make a recognizable caricature were they to undertake satirizing someone. On top of that they needed material a little bit wittier than showing the object of satire sodomizing a pig.
Take James Gillray. I mean he’s no Paul McArthy. Nowhere near the artistic skills McArthy displays in the video above. But you know, the art back in the 1700s was so much more primitive. Back then there was no progress at all in art. Hard to tell what artists were even trying to say. Of course, back then they didn’t have fluorescent tubes and gallons of enamel paint and video cameras. So the means for expressing their deeper thoughts and emotions weren’t available to them.