Sacred and Profane Art

True Outsider: “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.”

Eric Wayne:” 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..”

Thanks for the comment Eric. I asked you when you made it to name me ten contemporary artists  you’re aware of who resemble me in any way, shape, or form. Naturally you haven’t since there aren’t any that I know of. And if I don’t know of them it’s quite certain that you wouldn’t either. However, I’m still awaiting you to name even one. I’ll be happy if instead of producing the hundreds of thousands of artists who are just like me and think themselves the ONE true outsider, you just name me one. Your comment is so absurd I begin to doubt your basic sanity.

This brings me to the issue of why you’ve been badgering me on my blog for the past few months with what can only be described as self-glorifying grandstanding.   It’s the same “pompous grandstanding” that I’ve been pointing out in all contemporary art. Go into the Museum of Modern Art or any other Contemporary Art Museum (as they’re all identical now). What else do you see in them but pompous grandstanding?

And as I’ve pointed out tirelessly for years, this all begins with Pollock and company, Greenberg, Duchamp, and succeeding generations of artists all modelling themselves on those artists successful methods of achieving worldwide fame and global domination. Conquering hearts and minds, so to speak, while our troops supply the firepower.  The Action Painters and Color Field painters of the 40s, 50s and onwards are the very definition of pompous grandstanding in art. Who else would fill up miles of canvas with little to nothing whatsoever that speaks of anything other than their own individual egos? Look at Titian, Tintoretto, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Turner if you want to see the kind of artistic vision and talent to pull that off with anything remotely convincing.  Those artists are not bombastically proclaiming their own selfish egotism. They aren’t Selfie Artists. (see below)

Jasper Johns and Bruce Nauman? How is that remotely connected to the real artists I just named. All your blog amounts to is Nihilistic verbal masturbation and self-promotion. So kindly lay off charging me with doing exactly what you are so I don’t have to spend time clarifying what should be perfectly obvious to any reader. That what I’m saying is perfectly obvious is why I have few to no readers and that is something that doesn’t concern me in the least. All that concerns me is finding out the truth and reporting here on what I find to be the truth. I’ve done nothing over the years so much as request that if anyone find what I’m writing to be wrong or false or off-base or unfair I am willing to rescind whatever it is they reveal as a false statement. But I’m going to need more evidence than somebody spouting off of me that they LOVE that artists work and how dare a fraud like me say he’s a fraud.

In fact, anyone who is accusing me of being a fraud is an obvious fraud themselves. Just like you the minute I respond they run off to the hills with their tails between their legs because they’re too cowardly to back up their charge that I’m a fraud. This doesn’t make me mad. I just find it annoying. I don’t expect people to be heroes. I’m not asking for some kind of fisticuffs or verbal combat. If anyone wants to have some civil exchange where they want to refute anything I see as true I’d love to hear it. In fact, I’d far rather not think that we’re awash in Greenberg’s and Duchamp’s fraudulent notions but it’s an unavoidable fact as far as I can tell.

The only reason I write the blog is to try to address the moral quandary we are in, where artists with any sense of deep moral purpose are entirely excluded from participation in the art world. Where art has been entirely defined as something pretty or thought provoking. Something that provides a bit of a laugh and finger in the eye or mustache on the face of the Mona Lisa. Something that, as Matisse worked so hard to do, provides a nice comfortable armchair for the tired businessman. Matisse is the worst painter who ever lived. I’d rather look at the work below any day of the week than the phony Matisse and his beautiful lines. The guy never learned to draw from day one. An absolute bungler. Worse than Cezanne. Yet, in the Barnum and Bailey circus of 20th century art he becomes the glory of the age.

Our own Michelangelo. Here. Somebody tell me how great this is while keeping a straight face. Most people would pass on this if they were shopping for a shower curtain. But let’s just pretend it’s a colossal achievement that the Ancient Greeks themselves could never have achieved. And that there isn’t an artist out there who can admit to just what a mentally defective notion of art this dimwitted thing actually amounts to? No. We’re not a collapsing culture. We’re at the apex. It’s all up from here. Frank Stella has shown the way. He said so himself. Try reading Stella’s Working Space if you really want to read the words of a deranged person who is even more out of touch than the senile Matisse :


It’s a direct line from Matisse to the work below. We are descending into cultural oblivion with no artists willing to say a single word that might have us change course. That is why I say there are no more real artists. Anybody who was really an artist would never sit back and allow this to happen without uttering a single word about why it’s happening. Who started the descent. And how the only way for it to stop happening is to entirely reject the work that has been proclaimed the greatest art of all time by the Museum of Modern Art.

Thus spake Zarathustra. Nietzsche predicted this to happen. Just like Duchamp. They also were among many influential “thinkers”  who provided the key instruments that insured we went into the abyss.

And I’m not talking about artists posting comments to me. Or raising the battlecry on this blog. I’m talking about them thinking about it to themselves. Talking to others. Spreading the word in places other than the imbecilic inferno of psycho-cyberspace.



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The Anti-Modernist

To continue my relentless examination of the current stage of degradation:

Yes, of course. I understand. No comment. Best not to. Best to just keep moving forward.  The works in Ivanka and Jared’s collection are an aberration. It’s an odd coincidence that their tastes in art are an exact fit for the rest of the other art collectors shopping at Saatchi/Gagosian Inc.

No comment, right? Baffling to me as well… Like everyone else I have no idea what any of it means. Fortunately the NY Times article helps:

For those too lazy to read the entire article I’ll pick out two quotes :

Wendy, an art adviser based in London, who was formerly the international head of 19th-century European art at Christie’s,  said….

“The issue is that this period is just not sexy any more. So many collectors have moved through Impressionism and now over to contemporary.”

Over to contemporary? I’m glad she avoided the cliché “on to contemporary”… Although I  would have preferred the more direct, “So many collectors have moved through Impression downward into the rotten fruit cellar of Contemporary Art.” Who can blame them, really. As we all know, that’s where the money is and after all art is a business. So it’s gotta be taken seriously and only serious art need apply from now on in.

Let the business men handle it. They know what it’s all about. They’ll tell you what to make by buying the stuff they like. Your job is to make the stuff they like. Nice and simple.

Howard, a New York dealer who specializes in traditionalist art, said….

“It’s anemic.” He remembered the Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions in London in the 1980s and ’90s, which regularly offered 300 paintings from the 19th century. “There’s a domino effect. People see high levels of unsold lots and it becomes difficult to attract works that can carry the market. Where have all the paintings gone?”

There you have it. Traditionalist Art?!?!? Never heard of it. But I don’t like the sound of it. I’m not into traditions. I’m even bored with the latest ap already. Paintings? What are those? Oh, yeah, that’s what artists make on their computers, like David Hockney. It’s way way advanced over painting! Like Dave said, the Old Masters cheated by using “optical devices”. So it isn’t cheating to use computers today. If Rembrandt were alive today he would have painted The Night Watch on it rather than using the old fashioned optical device he was hamstrung by.

Anyway, I’m gonna stick with New Contempo as that’s where the collectors are now. And I want to get their attention with my pompous grandstanding.

Like Lisa and John Yuksavage Currin. As a preview my new art criticism that I hope you will like it and it will make you think about art and the possibilities of art selling to the people who like art the most. The collectors.. And where it might sell best.

The first thing, as Lisa Yuksavage demonstrates in the Times piece above, is to make it wildly inventive, cool pastel colors that are tasteful in the way of the latest Katy Perry video. And Super Sexy.  That appeals to the folks of today. Plus the shock of the New that never gets Old, which would make it too traditional.

Unfortunately I’m not as enthusiastic about Lisa’s newer work as I am about her old work, which is quite ironic, don’t you think?  I prefer the way she painted breasts in her early work. Her classic period. My expectation is that the early work will hold it’s value much better than her later work, even though the late stuff is much better painted. It’s far too well painted to be really authentically felt like her early work. And all of John Currin’s work. John feels it deeply. I can tell even in the digital image below.  In my mind John Currin’s “big tit paintings” (as I believe the critics refer to that particular period) are more satisfying than Lisa’s on a visceral level. The visceral level is where real art hits you. Plus his work is quite political. He’s against Radical Islam. Good. Somebody has to say it, right!?

As John said, when explaining how his later full on porn paintings were fighting the battle against radical Islam.”It’s definitely possible to be better than I am. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to be better than I am, but I hope so. I want to get better.” You bet. Plus show those ayatollah’s what it means to live in a free society and have great artistic masterpieces like the one below in our Art Museums.

Let’s look at an early Lisa so that you can see that my criticism of her handling of breasts is on target and not just being a white male chauvinist pig who always things men do a better job of painting breasts than women do. And don’t get me wrong. Lisa’s stuff is great. And I have never said that  a male artist is better and painting boobs than a female artist. And I will never say that because I don’t believe it. I don’t believe anything about art. So why would I believe that? I think all kinds of things about it and that’s what I’m saying. And then I think different things and that’s how art is able to move forward. People thinking new thoughts that are never like the old thoughts, which are pretty stale at this point.

OK? To be clear, and so there aren’t any misunderstandings. I think there are also women artists who paint better breasts than John Currin. Just not as big. And big is important in Art, as the Abstract Expressionists,  Richard Serra, Paul McArthy and so many other great ones have made more than clear. Males are better at bigness. Or projecting bigness which is pretty much the same thing. Art is perception and vice versa. And it’s a matter of taste and I’m the one who has the best taste as I’m a real artist! Just like everyone else. I have a degree and everything.

I’m not saying my taste is better than yours. Some of you might have a different opinion, so I am keeping an open mind. If you think Lisa’s painting is better than John’s let’s get into it a bit here. That’s the entire point of art criticism. You establish what is the best work by explaining why one thing is better than another and then everyone votes on it and the person who has the most money to afford it decides.

Well. I could say more but the main thing is how much greater this new art is from the old art how it was back in the old art i mean when they didn’t dress that cool and were pretty smelly and rude. I’ll be the Impressionists didn’t even change their underwear! Or know who Calvin Klein was or wore Armani like Jean-Michel Basquiat. Plus they were against the common man! They were stuck up, man, and didn’t know how to party like John and Lisa do, plus John and Lisa and the other New Artists are hip business guys and know that business guys are pretty hip too once you get to know them and you find out that they’re just regular guys like you and have yachts and things that you like too. Can you imagine trying to party with a guy like Vincent van Gogh?  Boring guy. Boring Work. Exciting guys. Exciting work. That’s the rule. Oh yea. I forgot! Ladies too! They’re just as exciting as the guys any day of the week.

Hey. I hope you guys are finding some cool things to copy and make them more contemporary to fit into the tastes of today.  I think this guy Paul Rumsey is doing some great new innovative stuff. Penises in a skull. There’s a combination that is really shocking and both penises and skulls are timeless themes that when juxtapozed like this boldly bring out entirely new and more provocative meanings. Plus it’s a lot more newer than women’s breasts and allows the objection of the male body more so that it shows he isn’t a sexist. And he’s also against Islamofascism and for women’s rights and against anti-Semitism. You can’t tell so much from the work except when it’s deconstructed by talking to him like I did a while back. As to what he’s saying in the work, I’m still a little vague on that. Perhaps some of the more informed and thinking artists out there can give me an explanation. Or if they don’t know they can give me some guesses? Anything? A starting point at least? Yes. You’re right. I admit it. I’m way behind the times. I’ve let myself fall behind in the new idea department as I haven’t had any new ideas since I was in the 6th grade.

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Ten Years of Round the Clock Therapy Won’t Cure PostModern Thinking

(FILES) Photo taken 13 November 2001 in Paris shows French philosopher and sociologue Jean Baudrillard posing. Baudrillard died 06 March 2007 in Paris according to his entourage. The author of around 50 books, Baudrillard was one of the most influential post-modern thinkers, renowned for his criticism of the consumer society. AFP PHOTO ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

Jean’s last name translated into English is “blowhard.” The photo gives me a good idea though. For my next few posts I need to take a Selfie holding an unlit cigarette in front of a corner of my library shelves.  That’s pretty much all it takes for people to take whatever gibberish anyone spouts with utmost seriousness. The Selfie with library books is essential. No great intellectual figure is complete without a Jean Blowhard-style Selfie. Of course the other ingredient is to talk total bullshit day in and out, something I’m incapable of doing. That’s the reason I’ve never been allowed to teach art. Talking total bullshit is mandatory.

OK… enough jawboning, guys. On with the post:

For some odd reason I’ve yet to understand the mechanism of, but let’s just call it synchronicity for old Jung’s sake, whenever I happen to be thinking deeply (like Jean Baudrillard except minus the bullshit)  I invariably stumble across an insight in line with my own thinking.  The insight is never in the same location, but scattered across hundreds of books or articles I habitually pore over in my obsessively compulsive manner. Oddly, and with uncanny accuracy I happen to open the books or articles right to the exact spot where I receive a striking illumination.

This, of course, is a confirmation to many of the shrinks I’ve consulted for a few sessions before realizing that they’re hopeless imbeciles, that I have some kind of untreatable bipolar disorder, Asperberger’s syndrome, acute anxiety disorder or what have you. All which require medications up the wazoo, which I’ve always politely decline at first. Needing to eventually tell them to fuck off, symbolically of course as I just tell them I won’t be needing whatever services they think they might be providing people. Guys like Mark Rothko were into this, which is as good explanation as any of why they’re painting stunk to high heaven. And the pharmaceutical fog that most artists today, along with coke highs and whatever else they shove into their mouths is the explanation for why the other paintings stink even worse than Rothko’s.

In my delusional state I also consider the Internet the Source of all Evil and run by Satan, but every once in a while there are some illuminating things found on it as well. In this instance, it’s a remark I ran  across it on the Dark Ages America blog where Morris Berman ventured the opinion that serves as the title of this blogpost. The exchange runs as follows:

Cel Ray Tonic said….

A good article here (some of it relating to our Po-Mo discussion earlier):

“Our cultural embrace of epistemic or intellectual arrogance is the result of a toxic mix of technology, psychology, and ideology.”

And from earlier in the article, “One way the internet distorts our picture of ourselves is by feeding the human tendency or overestimate our knowledge of how the world works. Most of us know what it’s like to think we remember more from high-school physics or history than we actually do. As the cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach have detailed recently, such overestimation extends farther than you might think: Ask yourself whether you can really explain how a toilet or a zipper works, and you may find yourself surprisingly stumped. You assume you know how things work when you often don’t know at all.”

Morris Berman said…

Personally, I think pomos need 10 yrs of round-the-clock therapy; altho I don’t think it wd work. But again, speaking as a declinist, I’m opposed to Americans developing any type of wisdom or humility. What we need is arrogance and more arrogance, and I have a feeling we’re going to get it!

True Outsider adds….

I’m also a declinist, although there are many differences I have with Prof. Berman’s point of view other than that. Declinist means, in Berman’s vernacular, somebody who believes that the US is undergoing a permanent and irreversible decline that has been picking up speed since the beginning of the Obama Administration. This resulted from Obama’s absolute failure to address in any substantive way at all the widening problems brought about by the collapse of the Wall Street just prior to his election.

Frankly, I don’t see how anyone with even rudimentary rational abilities and critical thinking skills can argue with the case Berman makes. My reason and critical thinking skills are hardly of the caliber of the Ivy League intellectuals so all I can do is try my best. Being  an inarticulate and generally insane (as proclaimed by the psychiatric community in America), not to mention being a visionary artist (which in my insanity I consider myself to be) I have very little to no use for reason or critical thinking when I’m making a drawing.  Reason and artmaking do not mix. If they ever come together the results are invariably disastrous. Take, as sterling examples, Duchamp, Greenberg and their million acolyte global armies of Postmodern Artists.

All I can do is stand in front of the steady stream of excited lemmings waving their PostModernist theories and hurtling themselves off the cliff as soon as the generation before them has gotten out of their way by leaping into the abyss themselves.

Nietzsche was quite right. “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.” I even did a little artist’s book that is all about this called Sailing Into Oblivion. This was made back before, after and during  9/11 alongside another book I made called Memories of the End of the World. But did anyone look, much less listen? I’ve been speaking as a declinist since the early 1970s. My attack against GreenbergDuchamp the year I entered art school in 1972 is no different in any way whatsoever than it was the first year I entered art school. This is the reason when I was in art school I lived in poor all white neighborhoods initially before moving to a poor all black neighborhood. One thing I like about poor people is they by and large agree with you when you tell them the country has entered a state of permanent and irreversible decline.

All that’s happened since 1972, from my perspective,  is that my analysis and predictions were one hundred percent accurate. I’ve watched helplessly as they’ve played out inexorably within the rotten art world system that was cemented in place in New York City before I’d even been born. I long ago gave up the hope of persuading anybody at all about anything at all. They aren’t going to listen to somebody who doesn’t have a huge personal fortune or a list of degrees after their name or world wide fame and recognition. How many people do you know go up to a homeless person with a sign asking for money and ask him what he thinks of the current state of affairs? I have a habit of doing it from time to time and have invariably found they have a far better grasp of it than anybody the lemming masses go to for insight and advice. Namely, their television set or its portable version, their computer.

With the kind of critical thinking employed by virtually all of our news organizations and TV media, along with their fair, balanced, and politically neutral coverage, it appears to me that we’ve moved from Sailing Into Oblivion to heading there in a speedboat named Trump, Inc.

Let’s take a listen to Sun Ra’s It’s After the End of the World, Don’t You Know That Yet? as I hate to end on a down note. I saw Sonny Blount and company perform this on a number of occasions. Sonny changed my life.

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The Fine Art of Hate

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.

Posted in End of Art, Postmodernism | 4 Comments

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.



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Meditate on This

From The Writings of William Blake, edited by Geoffrey Keynes, Vol. III, p. 108″

A Spirit and a Vision are not, as the modern philosophy supposes, a cloudy vapour, or a nothing: they are organized and minutely articulated beyond all that the mortal and perishing nature can produce. He who does not imagine in stronger and better lineaments, and in stronger and better light than his perishing eye can see, does not imagine at all.

I can’t imagine a more eloquent and pointed summary of what a sham Post-Modern art is. But it works just as well as a just summary of Modernism itself, prophesied centuries before the appearance of Kasimir Malevich, Kandinsky and company mind you.

Anyway, I’m a Blake man. If others want to follow Donald Kuspit, Robert Hughes, Jerry Saltz and the thousands of know nothing so-called art critics, art writers, art historians, and art posturers go for it.

I love a parade.

Here’s a good question. Perhaps I can hear from some some of the defenders of our Great Modern Achievement and join in the general Enlightenment that others  participate in, while I fail to see it.

Queries: What’s the difference between photos of black genitalia by Robert Mapplethorpe and photos of black genitalia in internet porn or billions of tumblr sites with “arty” erotica?

Why are Mapplethorpe’s genitalia (male and female) photos world-conquering art while all the rest are unworthy of sitting in the collections of all major contemporary art museums?

It seems to me, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that devotees of the Modern Art diaspora haven’t the foggiest notion why Mapplethorpe’s photos of black nudes, musclebound women and so on are great art. While the same kind of fashion/glam/softcore/hardcore by millions of others consigns then to categories like “low artists”, porn hustler, fashion photographer, hobbyist, and so on. While those MoMA worthies are unique geniuses.

I  leave the floor open to any art devotee willing to correct my bottomless ignorance on the subject. Could anyone please tell me what it is that separates Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin (and other great erotic photographers made available to us by the superb tastemakers at the MoMA dominated art world) and the millions of tumblr type images barraging aficionados on the internet 24/7?

What is that elusive “art” ingredient that you detect when absorbed in Bob M and Nan G that isn’t present inthe other erotic photos gushing out by the millions daily as enthusiasts post their own Photo Art to hopefully join in the New Renaissance of New Old Masters, (that great savants like Donald Kuspit are laboring so hard to promote on the world stage), bless their little hearts?

Is there some small difference between the MoMA worthy and the great unwashed and unworthy? Certainly not a large difference or difference in largeness, so to speak? Any difference at all?

Or perhaps Blake is right?

He who does not imagine in stronger and better lineaments, and in stronger and better light than his perishing eye can see, does not imagine at all.

From my perspective, photography period is work that leaves nothing whatsoever to the imagination at all. And it certainly takes no imagination whatsoever to snap a photograph. Who can’t do that, I wonder?

Nan Goldin photo from Ballad of Sexual Dependency

Anonymous photographer on Women Beauty Corner Tumblr

Here we have it. Nan Goldin vs. the unidentified (on the tumblr site) photographer who got 11,075 notes. Why is the photo on top infinitely superior to the one below it, (according to true connoisseurs of fine art at Contemporary Art Museums)?




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The Triumph of Gibberish

I thought I might put up an example of the kind of Orwellian Newspeak as transformed into the Total Gibberish that is “Postmodernism”, which I’ve been investigating a bit lately. I’m trying to find out what the word Postmodernism really means.

Donald Kuspit is one of the American Masters of it as far as art writing goes. Kuspit has to be credited for being one of those to both pioneer and perfect the form, of course leaning heavily on his early tutelage at the feet of Clement Greenberg’s art writing. Here’s a good example to mull over from the collection of his immortal writings under the appropriate title “The Dialectic of Decadence”, published in 2000 by the notable Allworth Press.

“An element of art is experienced as decadent when it is felt to be excruciatingly ineffable, which is unconsciously what troubled Judd about the Neo-Expressionist figure. The best art of any kind does not offer us forms that are easily specifiable–a familiar semiosis of forms with which we are narcissistically comfortable. Rather, it presents forms so novel that they seem to undo themselves-seem to burst with desire. The good work of art seems to be a sexual body driven by a complex of uncontainable, synergistically interactive rhythms. Baselitz’s painting de-semioticizes and re-sexualizes the figure, using it as the vehicle of explosive desire. Stella’s reliefs do the same with abstract form. The works of both artists cannot help but seem abnormal and perverse–all too bodily, insufficiently aesthetic–from the point of view of any standard semiotic of figural and abstract art.

Moreover, Stella’s new reliefs seem to explicitly repudiate Judd’s semioticization of his old paintings. But from the beginning Stella’s work was subliminally expressive, as its unbalance implies. The irrational desire immanifest in it has finally become turbulently manifest. Stella’s unembarrassed display of passion makes one realize the extent to which Judd falsified his early abstraction, knowingly or unknowingly in keeping with Judd’s own ideological reification of abstraction, that is, his decadence.”

What can I say? But that it’s gibberish like this that’s all that stands between artists like Judd and Stella being viewed as the dumbfoundingly stupid work that it is. The sheer arbitrary haphazardness of the objects themselves is breathtaking. But with the kind of bullshit written by Kuspit, not to mention written and spouted by Stella and Judd, leaves viewers breathless with wonder before the following:

If one saw this on wall Nordstrom’s Department Store, say in the shoe department or womens’ lingerie, one wouldn’t give it more than a glance. Other than to wonder how strikingly the colors of one of them match that of a pair of Nike shoes you’re thinking of purchasing. But then again you haven’t had a brilliant mind like Donald Kuspit explain to you that these Stella paintings do the same thing as George Baselitz with painting. They de-semioticize and re-sexualizes the figure, using it as the vehicle of explosive desire. In other words, you’re a complete ignoramus if you don’t understand that these works are among the greatest works in the history of Western Painting, or all painting for that matter, as what other painting can compare to the splendor of Western Painting in the full flower of its greatness?

Here’s a Baselitz. Prepare yourself. You’re about to see the figure being de-semioticized and re-sexualized, with it being used as a vehicle of explosive desire. One can only imagines Kuspit’s sexual fantasies if this kind of thing that fills him with explosive desire.

Anyway, I doubt my lifelong dream of meeting and talking to Donald Kuspit will ever be realized. But if it ever was the one question I’d want to ask him is, “Are you kidding?”

We can note also that words like semioticization and immanifest cannot be found in dictionaries of the English language. Why not? Because they’re made up words that have no meaning whatsoever. Except to art world people, of course, where they’re the only things that do have meaning. As it’s completely certain that works like the Judds below have no meaning whatsoever. As Donald Kuspit, the authority on the meaning of art, has just told us above: “Stella’s unembarrassed display of passion makes one realize the extent to which Judd falsified his early abstraction, knowingly or unknowingly in keeping with Judd’s own ideological reification of abstraction, that is, his decadence.” Or perhaps their meaning is in their decadence, that is if one finds decadence meaningful.

I hope that this will clarify things a bit for those wanting to understand the meaning of contemporary art. Note that the Judd work below is so bad even Ikea wouldn’t put it on display. They’d know that even if they were selling one of these for twenty bucks, they’d have trouble getting anyone to bring one up to the cash register. Even with a Herman Miller chair in front and and a Frank Gehry lamp on the table top, this stuff ain’t gonna make it. Trust me.

One thing you do have to give Americans some real credit for. We’re far and away the greatest salesmen that have ever existed since the dawn of creation. Can you imagine anybody in their right mind seeing this Stella, Judd, or Baselitz stuff at the local art fair and thinking, “Wow! That stuff is so incredible it should be hanging in every contemporary Art Museum in the entire world!” Yes, I know. Baselitz is a German Artist. But keep in mind that the German artworld learned everything they knew about how to sell Great Contemporary Art from the Americans! And we’ve done it, folks. This work is hanging in every Contemporary Art Museum in the entire world. At least those with the huge bundles of cash it takes to have purchased one.

Anyway, I’m swearing everyone reading this to secrecy. If news gets out that artists like Judd are sub-IKEA as far as furniture design goes the entirety of the Triumph of American Art might fall into question and God alone knows where that might end up. It might even slow down the great new creations coming along like a hurricane, vehicles filled with explosive desire,  bringing joy and excitement wherever they appear. Plus spiritual enlightenment. It’s a known fact that the spiritually enlightened vanguard is resident at American Art schools today, just as they were when they were ferreted out from Princeton, Yale and the like back in the Golden Days by the Museum of Modern Art.

Oh yeah… Haven’t watched it yet. But there’s a great new series out called …wait for the pun…. I Love Dick. Subtle, right? It’s about art. And no doubt will get down to the nitty gritty and reality of it as it’s set right in the Donald Judd inaugurated Art Town par excellence, filled with the works of one of the greatest American Masters of all time. People spending time looking at lower forms of American Art like Winslow Homer or Edward Hopper gotta wise up, as Donald Judd himself told us that stuff was a bunch of old crap. Too European! And what could be worse than American Art that owes a debt to European painting or has learned anything whatsoever from it.

And what better homage to Donald Judd (and Donald Kuspit for that matter) could this super new series I Love Dick be? Here’s a teaser:


Posted in Postmodernism | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments