Infinite: Tin Cans Around Saturn

Posted on April 2, 2009 in art

Local artists (and by local I mean no actual area but the idea of particularity) sometimes seem to believe in the piled-on scrum only and effect not to think that anything beyond that matters (that is, the universalism as defined by the critical impulse, the writing of the event of art, etc.) so to say, not to believe in the interruptive aspect of art and consequent start-up anew (this is the agility of the scrum) but only in its power to get the individual game going. A closed ‘spiritual’ realm, not a phenomena immersed in history, writing, politics, science and all the other things that impinge on everyday life —but which are not-quite-everyday. In that sense, there is an aspect of art (perhaps especially in times of stress) that is deeply conservative, certain practioners preferring to stick close to the body and an immediacy of affect. Populist art, that is, art that tries to stay away from the historical and centrifugal rigors of serious art, often strives for that immediate pragmatic closeness (although any ‘striving’ would seem to launch it, eventually, into another category; economic if nothing else.)

At any rate, I’ve been trying to think about why art can be so boring much of the time and yet why Art can have a frisson of enlargement about it that art tries to stay away from. (Though often times that simply strikes me as a ploy on the artists’ part.) To put it another way, the local artist often times tries to steer clear of a certain, um, relationship shall we say, with the infinite, the (non) thing which would tempt them from the immediate and often smacks of religion. (Although the more astute of us realize that often times that which is not becomes that which is, and that which is becomes that which is not.)

And so I come across a passage this morning:

“Modern art has also turned towards the event, or the possibility of the event. Modern art knows that it has no objective status. It knows that it does not incarnate any prior idea in its supposed wholeness and unity. In its resistance to objectification and its practice of ‘disincarnation’, modern art becomes increasingly concerned with ‘precarites evenementielles’. The most radical examples of this are installations, happenings, and jazz. Here, again, it would not be hard to describe a many-sided modern literature of the event, including Mallarme, Kafka, Joyce and Woolf, Pound and Imagism, William Carlos Williams and various traditions in post-war American poetry.” (Beckett and Badiou: The Pathos of Intermittency, Andrew Gibson)

Gibson makes the point that this modernist approach fiddles with the controls of history and can lead to thoughts of an ‘evacuation of history’ as exemplifies by the work of Samuel Beckett. It strikes me that ‘regional theater’ (to use the performative for all the arts) is precisely not interested in such epochal formations as a history bending event. The popular is precisely that which has already been slightly (not too much) bent.

And of course the coils of history often bend in unpredictable ways (it’s why we still have history… which is not the same as progress however, no matter how much neoliberal thought might have it be so).

But what caught my eye in the quote above was ‘disincarnation’. Specifically, its relation to Corpus, a beautiful and mystifying text by Jean-Luc Nancy; a few quotes from the section I am reading now and the stated and implied chiasmatic relations of local/universal, body/spirit etc:

“Incarnation is structured like a disembodiment.”

“The signifying body – the whole corpus of philosophical, theological, psychoanalytic, and semiological bodies – incarnates one thing only: the absolute contradiction of not being able to be a body without being the body of a spirit, which disembodies it.”

Heads and tails. A flipping of a (coming) quantum coin: or rather acephale and aphallic, cut off the head, put it in a can, and shoot it into orbit around Saturn, leaving the tail to spawn .. or is the other way round? “No head or tail, then, since thing provides support or substance for this material. I say ‘acephalic and aphallic,’ not ‘anurous,’ which is fine for batrachians. An impotent, unintelligent body. Its possibilities, forces, and thoughts lie elsewhere.”

Insurrection and resurrection take place simultaneously. (As well as beheaded/headed.)

Toynbee Tiles written all over streets scattered from here to Sao Paulo:
“The dead are resurrected on Jupiter.”

Meanwhile here on earth the corpses are cinematically animated: zombies and vampires, proliferating, perhaps, regarding that bend in history, we should say clinematically: “Clinamen, a fragile, fractal prose, inclining to accident. Not the body-animal of sense, but the areality of bodies: of bodies indeed, including the dead body. Not the cadaver, where the body disappears, but the body as the dead one’s apparition, in the final discreteness of its spacing: not the dead body, but the dead one as a body – and there is no other.” (Corpus, 53)

Art forming the dead shells, re-animation, finite and infinite swarming along its closed track, luminosity of kelipot, now irremedially mixed with the core, becoming sphere.

First, evacuate and abandon
tin cans to Mars…
flung from head to tail