Category Archives: Aesthetics

A Wednesday

Summer is moving along – three panels of the fence came down in the straight-line wind on Monday night.

Is it a Crime? – JSTOR Daily G Stein. Modernist pulp fiction. Compare reading Stein with empathic reading.

The Current “Longest Strawman Argument Article” of 2022 is… Response to The Empathy Racket – by Alice Gribbin. I’m in there with Birchler: The argument for empathy is borrowed from 1950s didactic criticism, and more than shows its prescriptive years.

It’s Art Appreciation revisited. The pathetic fallacy re-woke. It’s in line with reader response criticism, but I’m not sure it offers much that is new. It seems to turn reader response towards the normative and “utilitarian,” and away from the ideosyncratic and functional – but I wonder if that’s a good thing. But response to art as a litmus test has been used for ever.

As Gribbin writes, “… the reasoning behind the default to empathy is … shallow and deadening.” It’s an extension of the psychology reasoning – the value of the work depends on the depth of the psyche – and, as she argues, it places a normative measure on the manner of reading. But that the insistence on reading empathically is made by those who are aesthetically stunted is too harsh and narrow. Normative positions are always narrow, based on half-understood ideas. But is empathic reading a racket, noise? 0r a Ponzi scheme a grift? Might be: The position certainly can be, and has been, used that way (Richardson, and some local poets come to mind). The position is riding on the idea that Virtue is Worn on the Sleeve These Days. But it is facile and adolescent; that is, didactic. Normative. Gribbin gets a little preachy and didactic when she’s framing her argument.

The idea that the empathic reading position is aligned with self-help books is interesting and worth considering, if only to widen it a bit. It’s a narrow connection. But the narrowness of the work at MIA’s Center for Empathy and Visual Arts (CEVA) needs a good kicking because there are more salient ways of thinking about art and social crises. It is the purpose of the museum to address social ills, but how is up for financial debate.

My response: Teach modernism. Make it new.

Giacometti, Drawing

For the First Time in 15 Years, the Most Exciting New Apps I Use are Web-First

Slashdot Sentient AI. LaMDA is not sentient. And even the attempt to side-step argument by declaring belief isn’t going to change things.

New media in the age of personal growth

  • You’re about due for an intervention.
  • Art as aide, helpmate, council for personal growth.
  • A blog post a day. Two tweets and call me in the morning.

A Motivational Art Intermezzo “Live to be outstanding.” What is new media in the age of the rock ’n roll life coach Anthony Robbins? There is no longer the need to be spectacular. The Situationist critique of the spectacle has won. That would be my assessment of the Anthony Robbins Age in which we now live. Audiences are no longer looking for empty entertainment; they seek help. Art has to motivate—not question, but assist. Art should not primarily reflect, represent, or discover the world but talk to its audience, hit it in the face, so say today’s art marketers. Irony can be a medicine as long as it contributes to the healing process of the patient. Be careful not to offend anyone. Today’s aesthetic experiences ought to awaken the spiritual side of life. Aesthetics are not there for contemplation only. Art has to become (inter) active and take on the role of coaching. In terms of the self-mastery discourse, the 21st century artist helps to unleash the power from within. No doubt, this is going to be achieved with positive energy. Perverse optimism, as Tibor Kalman called it, is needed. Art has to create, not destroy. A visit to the museum or gallery has to fit into one’s personal development program. Art should consult us in transformation techniques and not criticize. In order to be a true experience, the artwork has to be an immediate bodily experience, comparable to the fire walk. It has to be passionate, and should shed its disdain for the viewer, along with its postmodern strategies of irony, reversal, and indifference. In short, artists have to take responsibility and stop their silly plays. The performance artist’s perfect day job is the corporate seminar, building trust and distilling the firm’s core values from its human resources.

Self-management ideology builds on the 1980s wave of political correctness—liberated from a critical negativism that only questioned existing power structures without giving guidance. As Anthony Robbins says, “Live with passion!” Emotions have to flow. People want to be fired up and move out of their comfort zone. Complex references to intellectual currents within art history are a waste of time. The art experience has to fit in and add to the personal growth agenda. Art has to leverage fears and promise guaranteed success. Part therapist, part consultant, art no longer compensates for a colorless life. Instead, it makes the most of valuable resources and is aware of the attention economy in which it operates. In order to reach such higher planes of awareness, it seems unavoidable to admit and celebrate one’s own perverse Existenz. Everyone is a pile of shit and has got dirty hands. Or as Tibor Kalman said: “No one gets to work under ethically pure conditions.” It is at that Žižekian point that art as a counseling practice comes into being. Tired Media Art.

from “Zero Comments: Blogging and Critical Internet Culture” by Geert Lovink