I am reading an excellent biography of Joyce by one of his friends and contemporaries. The author talks a lot about Joyce and his relationship to language. He mentions Joyce has a relationship to language that most people don’t have. For him there is a plasticity and a physicality to words themselves. He knows his own novels and stories backwards and forwards.
I do not have this relationship to language. Some words, give me pleasure, but words in general do not. I do not delight in puns, or word play. I love poetry, but I love the images and the metaphors, the rhythm and yes the language. But this seems to be beyond the materiality of language and more about ability of language to evoke or create meaning.
Hopefully this makes send. The distinction between the materiality or medium and what is expressed. I am not sure if this is an important distinction, but to me there should be something of material fetish for the artist involved in creating in a medium. What this says for mixed media artists or conceptual artists I have no idea.
I have been thinking of what medium I have a special relationship with and I would have to say it is computer code. The materiality of code is something that I have a fetishtic relationship with. I love the materiality of code itself, how different languages express concepts and processes. The product of code is something that I struggle with since there is no necessary relationship between code and the expression of a code.
When Joyce creates a sentence, there are perhaps many ways to interpret it but there is one way to render it – as a sentence. With computer code, there are many ways to interpret and render the code, or perhaps there is one way to interpret it and may ways to render it. Is the role of the reader or audience inverted? Are there two audiences?
There are two levels of appreciation: the code and the expression of the code. Is this similar to the appreciation of text as word and as a meaning or of anything with multiple levels of interpretation? I am not sure.
I have been thinking about the avant garde and how all art post the avant garde is just about newness – whether this is radical newness or newness in interpretation (such as Lacan’s interpretation of Freud). It is like the artistic singularity. By singularity I am considering that every historical step into the future represents a phase transition or change in conceptual schema, so that the context is different than it was for the last whatever – a piece of art work, robotic consciousness, whatever.
First off, this untethers the singularity from science and computer science, and refers to a world, where the rules of the game change with every move of the game. This is not necessarily form divorced from content, or some sort of hylomorphism, but even something like the category of art (and this could be aesthetic, economic, cultural) changes with every new work of art – so that the very concept just refers to a certain trajectory or rate of change.
So lets talk historical avant garde vs neo avant garde (ie contemporary art) as discussed in Foster’s “What’s Neo about the Neo-Avant-Garde.” This is all about repetition (counter to my singularity thesis), and the idea is that the neo avant garde actually completes the project of the historical avant garde. It is a repetition. Its creative interpretation (or deconstruction) is in contrast to the nihilism or negation of the avant garde, and that it is here that we can actually define the institutions of art, rather than with the manifestos of the historical avant garde. This all sort of smacks of accelerationism but whatever.
What the neo avant-garde did was a sort of second digestion of the historical avant garde to turn it into a capitalist category, which is what everything is these days anyway. Capitaalism is the symbolic system that has a place for everything, although it is on capitalisms terms. There is no outside capitalism. In the words of Parmenides it is the IS -there is no IS NOT.
As mentioned in the Foster article, the avant garde did not destroy art, or the categories of art, but made art indestructible. But an avant garde only exists if it has a neo-avant garde like Freud only exists if he has Lacan. We we are witnessing in all contemporary artforms is the dissolution of the symbol from its meaning -the classic Lacanian Schizophrenic. The tufted couch button is attached to the batting but to nothing else.