may 13 2001
Theres nothing more fatal to an artist than self-doubt, nothing
that can cause as abrupt a cessation of activity. It is probable that
artists of all stripes and levels of success find various ways of circumventing
the disastrous consequences of 1) having no one believe in what you do
and 2) not even belleving in ones self what one does. The former
can be skirted easily enough (most of the time) due to the narcissistic
proclivities of most artists. And of course many artists now teach in
art schools so there is an built-in mechanism for sustaining attention
and artistic activity.
But presumably even the most insured and innoculated suffer from the abyss
of self-doubt, simply having bureacratic mechanisms which carry them across
the dry spots.
But for others, those out in the cold of autonomous activity
other ways have to be sought to keep going. Some people find it easy to
simply drop their artistic activity and move on, like some jilted lover
moving through the turbulence of juvenile emotions which surge up no matter
how old you are.
But for the others? Traditionally, artists and craft workers could find
some confort in the idea that they were doing it for the glory of god,
some order outside the everyday order. But the bureacratic screws are
tightening on any such perennial philosophy. The new corporate Medicis,
in ways subtle and not so subtle, have need only for the consumerist products
generated by artistic activity. The idea that an artifact can point beyond
itself and is of no consequence beyond the valuation of its market price
is so far beyond the pale that it can only be offered up as a conspiratorial
or science fictional construct,
In that sense art is worthless but and not even useless in any Bataillean
sense of a generalized economy wherein the REAL use value lives in a soteriological
value. That is, an art works value becomes encapsulated in its useless,
providing a vehicle for time travel to a period when its worth WILL be
discovered. But since in a way, nothing ever goes away now but is continually
being archived, put into storage and ready to be brought back out to pump
up a flagging flaccid system, it becomes hard to see how such encrypted
value could happen now; since nothing has any shock value now, there seems
no way for such an encryption to be broken and for the message
to be delivered.
In being put into a weightless condition anything seems possible in culture
-- and hence nothing seems possible since there is no stable support to
I was at a lage music festival in the middle of town recently which literally
had hundreds of thousands of folks attending, with eleven stages and music
everywhere. What it brought to mind mostly was Marxs injunction
that (he was writing about Napolean) that the first time around in stragedy
and the seonc time around is farce. It seemed a pale imitation of the
big festivals of the past but since I havent been attending stadium
shows in ages perhaps im not the one to make a judgement.
But what was clear to me is how radical (for lack of a better word) arhythmia
is. One performer, Patti Smith, gave an onstage paranoid rap and suggesting
that we in the audience think for ourselves (even as we had
been persuaded to buy the thickets by reasons beyond our control ). So
i just struck me that all the acts were very rhythmical (rock and blues
of course, fuck music) no experimental acts -- which would
mean nonrhythmic for the most part or the use of rhythms which could not
readily be pinned down.
Rhythm gives a sheen, a glossy coating over everything, transporting all
into a staged virtual world, the hypnotic clicking clacking of Nietzsches
world train without an engineer and which lays down its own equally spaced
clickety clack tracks into the void.
Could there even be a non-rhythmical non-repetitive pop world? Could anything
be more deliciously monstrous? Both organsim and machine thrive on repetition.
Only some chiliiastic millenialism woudl think otherwise, wherein silence
I read an interesting introduction to a book about french theory in america.
The author Lotringer was saing that america always oscillated between
the modes of Utopia and Law and that french theory (or rather
its adventure in america as thought made its way into theory--i assume
here he means something akin to an escaped philosphical discourse--)
was the result of the pressures between those two locked together tectonic
plates, making the REAL originator of french theory to be
--- america! and that the next advances in said theory will be made in
Such theory would then be a creature of borders, caught between shifting
plates; as such it would also be an uncanny, even vaporous, provocation,
never quite visible enough on either side of the plates, always in a process
of uncertain sedimentation.
The trick then (or at least one of the necessary tricks) would be to keep
the sedimentation from falling and getting caught too firmly into objects
but also to keep it nevertheless anchored in objects.