The Roman Baths at Nimes

poetry

Herein I continue down the rabbit hole of homoerotic greco-roman inspired poetry.  I feel like this blog post has been inspired by the spirit of VH1’s pop-up video.

So lets talk about Nimes – It is a city in the south of France and there is indeed a ruin of a roman bath there.  But I think perhaps we are talking here about bath houses frequented by gay men in the 70s.

Lets talk more about the south of France, Occitanie.  This is an interesting place. It is the land of the troubadours. It is also the land of the Cathars, a heretical christian sect massacred by the king of France.

So some background on what it means to go to a bath house in Nimes.

“In the hall of mirrors no body speaks” – why not? Do they just look? I guess in a Anechoic hall people may speak – for the novelty of not hearing an echo. But you know where else there is a hall of mirrors… Versailles – Also France. lets proceed.

“An ember smolders before hallowed cheeks”  speaks/cheeks. I get it. I dont really get this line.  Smolders is an exciting and evocative word. Cheeks is like butt cheeks – maybe too much too soon (dont give it all ways).

The next line – emptying pockets – to me this is auditory. i hear it. In the hall of mirrors where no one speaks. There is only the clanging of disrobing.

“My god forgive me” – I don’t love this line -the Romans would not have a problem with disrobing. Perhaps there is another way to express guilt.

“Some say love” This is a the beginning of a Bette Middler song – The Rose. It is also a film staring the divine Ms M, which I think is a fictional rendering of the life of Janice Joplin. Bette Middler played a lot in Bath Houses (also apparently my parents saw her at the Copa in the 70s).

“love, repels what it sees” – interesting. Not my love language, but create a new lexicon for me and introduce me to new ways of loving.  Love as magnetic is a language, but love as the magnetic repulsion this could be a new language. It is not explored in the rest of the poem.

“In the steamroom, inconsolable tears” This is beautiful and heart breaking.

I don’t understand the little green crests in the whirlpool. Really it is green that I’m hung up on. Because little green men are aliens or maybe leprechauns. Otherwise I could guess what this whole section is about … riding against death… – wink wink – hot.  This rises above cliche. So another interesting thing poetry does is take existing languages, idioms, and vocabularies, and refines them.

“bright beach towel” I like this alliteration.  It is also very visual. There is only darkness until this line.

“and tongue, good things, make something sweet

of fear.”

A beautiful last line. We dont discuss bodies at all in this poem until the end

although we know that is it is about bodies. Make something sweet of fear– sigh…

 

 

 

Death of Antinous

poetry

This is the Death of Antinous by Mark Doty.  Why did I read it? Why did I want to focus on it? To Meditate on it?  Write about it? What draws me to this poem?

Is it the classical nature, the subject matter?

Images of perfect proportioned marble muscles (or has he writes nipples)

“Accidentally, swimming at dawn” I love this line. It is not exciting, or purple. But swimming at dawn. This is a beautiful image. I love it, I want to swim at dawn. We dont know what it is, the sea or a lake. But I imagine the sea. A haze. A lightbox. As it turns out, its the Nile he drowns in. The image changes and I imagine the dwat. The funary boat of egypt. What god was the oars man, the cybernetic? How do you accidentally swim at dawn, or at any time really?

Something about the rhythm of that line, and about the sounds, the musicality. Maybe the N’s – entally, ing, awn.

“Squalid little crossroads.” This is not really what I think of when I think of crossroads. I think of … old scratch … but are cross roads squalid.  Evocative.

“What do we want in a any body

but the world? And if the lover’s”

Ahh – we get it now, its a love poem. Antinous was Hadrian’s lover, I guess. Hadrian has a special place in my heart.  The map of the Roman Empire in the front flap of my middle school latin textbook depicted Hadrian’s wall – a very notable landmark in a part of the world that does not speak a romance language. Long before I knew who Hadrian was – I knew about this wall, and that sheep grazed on it now and it was not much of a wall any longer. Boundaries.

Some lines I dont like

“the he would find it everywhere”

Do we need lines like this in our poems? Copulas?

Shakespeare does not.

“Embodied him.” This I also dont like. Too abstract. Too passive.

“Turn of his shoulders”… I prefer marble nipples.

“merely takes in anything

without judgement or expectation”

is this love too – is the nile love? the poet’s reflection on his own love?

“chiseled liquid waist”

(paradoxes)

I hold because I cannot hold

(paradoxes and all the meanings of hold)

and a great last line – limerence

“that desire can make anything into a God.”

 

 

 

Writing about Eros Vs Writing about Pleasure

reading

I recently just read two book sort of about pleasure and sort of about eros: Crudo and This is Pleasure (on another person’s recommendation). First off, Crudo by Olivia Laing is f*ing brilliant. It is about Olivia, the author, who is in the process of getting married in 2017. The story takes place right before, during, and after her wedding. However, post-modern twist, it is written as if the author is Kathy Acker, the experimental artist, dead since 1997. It is a recording and reaction to current events, marriage, subjectivity, and narration, birds, food, whatever crosses the author’s path and can be commented on in 140 characters or less. The writing is dynamic, propelled forward by its own momentum, like a social media feed, or news ticker at the bottom of CNN.

Immediately I imagined ways I could knock off this exquisite novel.  Imagine autofiction told by Chantal Akerman, autofiction told as beautiful cinematographic, detail oriented films (or sequence of shots). Imagine autofiction told by an AI, by a video game, by kant (or Reza Negerestani – just got off a board meeting with him – actually that would be an amazing novel). Imagine, in perhaps a Jungian sense, that ourselves and our consciousnesses are comprised of multiple daimons or impulses or desires.  Then, we can interpret Crudo as a meditation  on one’s life external recording and internal reaction  through the lens of one aspect of this personality. There is something mythic in Crudo. Kathy Acker is the god(ess) that Olivia channels in writing her own life.

Next I listened to “This is Pleasure” by Mary Gaitskill.   This is a genre of writing that I don’t like. When I read this I was reminded of another story I also don’t like, Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, but at least Mary Gaitskill does not use magical realism. So what is my complaint? THE STORY IS NOT TRUE. It is too well made. It is like the well made play – like Hedda Gabler – anesthetized- although instead of a character blowing their brains out – I want to blow my brains out.

What does it mean for fiction not to be true? This is sort of a strange complaint to make of fiction. But I always imagine that fiction is the lie that is more true than the truth.  But there is no truth here since the story is a hermetically sealed perfect confection- there is only the story. The only interface to reality is the conceit around #metoo.

Yes this is a #meeto story. One third of the way through this story, I am slow, I was like why am I listening to this, and then I realized… Oh this is about #meeto.  Still not a good reason to listen, but at least I understand why the author wrote this. Because otherwise it makes no sense.

I am aggravated by stories with a punch line. I am not aggravated by stories with a good post-modern twist. That is my personal proclivity.

The story is written from multiple points of view, Rashomon style, about the actions of a man (Quinn), and how he interacts with women, which is almost entirely sexual without being seductive.  He will smack a woman on the butt with something, but then go to lunch in a platonic or non sexual fashion.  Okay, not sure what that means. Quinn’s is the only male voice we hear. The rest of the characters are various women he interacts with over the years.  There are some lines that are so offensive, and put into the mouths of women, that I cannot imagine how a woman wrote this.

Why this book is called “This is pleasure” is beyond me.  There is no pleasure, it seems Quinn is not even pleasuring himself.  It does seem like there is this reduction of sex to power, since the story opens with the line that Quinn bragged that he can understand what every woman wants to hear (or something like that). So his escapades seem just to be a drawn out personal experiment in proving this hypothesis.  I had no new insights into me too or anything, The only thing that seemed similar between Quinn and real life me too events, were the actions.

Not sure why I felt compelled to post about this, but I read these stories back to back and my contrasting opinion to both, especially while editing the tower, compelled me to record my thoughts.

 

Binge Reading &&& (Three essays)

Uncategorized

I’m trying to write something about science fiction and film which is related to the class I teach at fordham. Today, tech can refer to something like pranayama breathing or my smart phone. Should we use this in the same way? We can look at the etymology of technology – from the greek -techne + logos: the reason or plan of craft. We can consider yoga, craft of caring for the body, so there definitely is a technology to that. Likewise there is a craft of making communication devices. The difference between other ologies and technology (like perhaps psychology and anthropology and sociology), is that these other areas represent a practice, while technology can be both a practice and a subject. We talk about buying technology and using technology, and developing technology in a way that we do not talk about other ologies. So what is technology as a subject and not a process. Technology is the process of technology, a recursive statement perhaps or tautological statement perhaps.

 

But I digress – since really what I am doing is binge reading &&&.

CRYPTOPHASIA & THE QUESTION OF DATABASE: by EKIN ERKAN: Examines the filn Poto and Cabengo with reference to database logic (see manovich, galloway and a bunch of other peeps) and many continental thinkers. The TLDR is that rethinking film in terms of database logic does not subvert traditional power structures, but expresses a “Deleuzian” power structure” The power is in its momentary incomprehensibility and the ability to apprehend database logic (of images) only in recollection (ie memory). The goal of the author is to -show that “the metaphor of “radical cryptophasia” destabilizes the enumerative, cybernetic condition of control society’s database logic.” So I guess the project is to jailbreak the control structure of database images that themselves where theoretically a jail break of hierarchical images (authorial).
Cryptophasia, the made up language that some twins create to communicate, is interpreted interms of autosurveillence, and an example of self optimization. Merleau-Ponty is referenced – with crytophasia as some sort of body knowledge – affect as sensation, also as Laurellian- truly missing (instead of seen). This is all very interesting.

However I kept thinking about homomorphic encryption and cryptography as a personal practice (see past blog posts). This is a much more radical =radical interpretation and I would be interested to explore implications of this sort of knowledge – mic drop!

Geneology of a conflation by Sarah McKenna. This is an analysis of Pasquinelli’s eflux article on algorithms that I have yet to read.  The essay is really well written! The crux of the article takes aim at Pasquinelli neglect of the political dimension analysis of algorithms. McKenna provides an excellent summary of Stiegler’s position- that meta data, data mining et al are “capitalist proletarianization by exteriorizing human experience onto digital platforms” – ie a form of alienation. I completely agree. McKenna brings up predictive coding – or recursion of recursion as an explicit example of an algorithm that is NOT an extension of an organ. Via Negarestani, she explains that machines are Janus-faced and that machineology studies of machines that “traversing between the abstract and concrete” are janus faced, rather than extensions or even material practices. What is meant by Janus faced here? I believe it is a dual nature. But what to me would be more interesting would be to look at where Janus resides- the threshold. The algorithm is really an interface, it is a transduction engine or a mapping engine to transfer one thing into another. And this is what Janus is the translation point rather than the duality or as Pasquinelli would put it – the instruction set.  The algorithm (especially recursive/dynamic algorithms) unlike the syllogism are in the only method to explicitly create new knowledge.

Beyond Nano-Monadology: Exorcizing the leibnizian ghost from the philosophy of Nanotechnolgy by Jaimie Boyd.  This is a critique of Nick Land’s analysis of  nanotechnology.  Land’s critique is that nanotechnology dissolves the nature/culture distinction as nanotechnology dissolves everything into equal singularities. How is this related to the Leibnizian monad, posits Boyd. What kind of Leibnizian is Land and how does this relation break down? Boyd states, “Land’s is a kind of Nietzschean-Kantian monadology, an exilic monadology that retains the divine as a programmer despite the loss of vitalism and compatibilism.” I would completely agree with this.  I would go a step further and posit that Land is an an alienated monadology, or a non anthroposophic monadology.  Where as monads form the world of human experience, Lands noumenal nanomachine form the world beyond or ex human experience perhaps anti-human experience.  The evolution of the monad through Kant to Deleuze and finally to Land, is as sort of apology for the noumenal or a subject that which is in accessible to humans.  For Land, it is not longer a subject that is in accessible but a processes that is contrary to the process of nature and the process of culture.
 

The Tower

poetry, the-tower

Months ago I consulted the Tarot to help me determine what my next writing project ought to be.  I pulled the Tower. This is a frightening card.  It is a card of rupture and disruption. The interpretation that resonated with me, was that I should write about something that will forever change my life -that will provide a rupture. So I started working on a chapbook on eros and as it manifested in a particular period of my life.

I have transcribed all my journals, poems, and notecards related to this project into a Scrivner document and I’m now editing.

I feel like a painter and having just laid down the underwash of ultramarine blue I am now ready to mix my paints.

I have a few aesthetic goals here. First my experience of poetry is as world building, it is the rupture that creates or elucidates a new experience that other people can share and inhabit.  What do I value in poetry, and in my particular project on eros?

I identified

rhythm to create the topology of the world

metaphor as a method of creating new contexts and perspectives

language as a way to introduce surprise and to create new languages

lineage (not the perfect term) as a way to situate this piece as a dialogue with other creative works

There are many other things I could include here such as ideas, inventiveness, multimedia, and so forth but these 4 items are what I am focusing on. Truly focus on 1 would be enough.

As I am working through my material I am coming up with different processes (the scaffolding, jigs or apparatus) to help refine the work in each of these areas. This is coming in the form of traditional writing exercises, but also in the guise of creating computer program, and musical pieces. What other scaffolding can I use? Perhaps games or dance!  Part of my experience in writing this chap book is the process through which I am refining the material into a finished piece and what that means.  This is alchemy, a personal process as well as an external process.

Aside from the scaffolding, I am also reading a ton of poetry with an eye for these 4 aspects: rhythm, metaphor, language, lineage.   The first poet I took a deep dive was Lisa Roberson and I will probably write more about her in a future post.

 

Kant Vs Hegel Vs the blockchain and Voldemort

Uncategorized

I am going to write this blog post before I forget about the subject matter.

This past week, a few of us braved the rain to discuss some responses to Reza Negarestani’s intelligence and spirit. I am going to put it out there and say that I think all critical theory, theory fiction, diagrams that obfuscate rather than elucidate, and long works that are challenging in the peculiar vein that contemporary thought is challenging is doing something like alchemy. It is using an obscure or perhaps hermetic language that the reader(s) have to struggle through in order to arrive at a personal transformation.  Someone in the reading group did also mention that Reza is a sorcerer.

Well on to it. What is the difference between Kant and Hegel? I was always hung up on the categories. For Kant there are categories of though, for Hegel there is just the dialectic. In our group this week H made the great point that no – Kant (and transcendental idealism) vs Hegel (and Absolute idealism) – noumena vs phenomena.

Yes! tell me more. So for Kant, phenomena is the world of sensation that we humans (perceivers) have access to – our experience. Noumena is the thing in itself that we do not have access to through sense perception – and constitutes REALITY.  (whatever that is). For Hegel, there is no distinction between noumena and phenomena- everything becomes encompassed by noumena (Geist/Spirit).

This led us to a discussion of Voldemort (ie Nick Land) and his idea that the blockchain is the philosophy / the end of philosophy /or something like that – via Vincent Le’s review of I&S.   How can that be possible – that the blockchain is philosophy? Well if philosophy is the activity of determining what is true or what is reality, the something like the blockchain which removes uncertainty from interaction, history, and judgement, becomes truth and reality.

Why is this? Well, the blockchain needs no judge, all transactions (ie facts), are determined by a decentralized consensus algorithm.  These facts (transactions) exist for all time in a public decentralized immutable ledger, not open to interpretation or revision.  The blockchain is truth, it is reality, it also destroys the distinction between ought and is. Might is right in this case. What ought to be done, is what is done, via the consensus algorithm (and perhaps smart contracts programmed on the blockchain).

Reza’s I & S offers an alternative to this because it is a rethinking of philosophy.  Philosophy is the activity of intelligence, it is how intelligence becomes intelligent or transcends itself.  Intelligence is that, which can among other things, can reinterpret its own history (ie its own blockchain, the blockchain is history). A blockchain in this definition, is not intelligent, since it cannot reinterpret its own story, it just exists. I would rather live in a world of reinterpreted history and change than blockchain stasis.

 

 

 

 

 

What are you doing?

Uncategorized

I had lunch with a friend today and he asked what am I doing to keep busy on the side.  I have a family and a  lot of interests and I have always had side projects.  This summer has taken it out of me, emotionally and I lack the energy for side projects.  I say I am working on myself, or working on becoming conscious.  I no longer want to work on projects that are fun diversion but lack meaning for me and I am not sure what exactly it means to work on something meaningful.

To this question, I responded that I am trying to figure out what it is I want to work on in my free cycles. For the past few days every morning I write a list of 10 goals. The goals change from day to day, but at the end of the week I am going to go back and look at them. I am lucky to have the luxury to have this issue, since most people struggle just to have enough to eat.  I am in a privileged position to live as conscious a life as possible. At every moment I can make a decision on how I want to live my life.  So I am grateful for that, but also feel pressure to rise to the challenge of this.

So what guides my decision about how to live my life? What brings me pleasure.  Even this is not as easy as it seems. I feel like I have programmed myself to like certain things like le corbusier (sorry Lian I dont).  So I am engaged in a deprogramming of myself so that I can

go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience

Thank you James Joyce. How does one deprogram oneself. I dont want this to be an empirical exercise where I try a bunch of things and slowly realize all the things I do not like. There is a theory in natural medicine that people learned which plants healed what disease by listening to the plants, through a somatic processes and perhaps an extrasensory process. They did not go through an empirical analysis to test out all the plants and all the possible things a plant could cure.

So what is the extrasensory way to determine one’s pleasure. Perhaps it is listening to my unconscious. Perhaps it is paying attention to the synchronicities. What are the ones showing up? Music, Nature, Body Work, Conversation, Painting,  Poetry (reading), Film (watching), Art (writing) — and programming …

Mythos, Logos and Film

Uncategorized

Its that time again for computers, robots, and film.  I always read an analysis of Metropolis through the lens of Horkheimer and Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. This is for many reasons. The first is that it view the enlightenment not as a revolution of scientific or rational thought, but a revolution for logistics and planning. The enlightenment is less about the scientific method than about standardization and commodification.  There is a lot of discussion about protocols and the re-enchantment of the world, but this makes me wonder if the re-enchantment of the world is in opposition to protocols. That there is a certain amount of chaos,  or unpredictability that makes something enchanted.

There as also the notion that there is a dialectic between myth (or narrative) and reason (or science), and when reason triumphs it will have nothing dialectical to push against except for its own will to power. Thus reason just becomes another narrative, and in the end reason (and society) collapses under its own weight (this was written during Nazi-ism).

What is film and in particular, what is Metropolis? Film is mythology. It is an apparatus for creating cultural mythologies to use a term from Flusser. The form, the film, creates a mythology with a certain structure – the grammar of film. This is similar to the form of a Homeric epic is in iambic pentameter and uses epithets like grey eyed Athena, or invocations.   We could create a computer program that structures everything like a homeric epic and then we would have a homeric epic apparatus. In our case we have a filmic apparatus. So what sorts of myths does this apparatus give us and what is the dialectic it creates between myth and reason, mythos and logos?

The logic of film is not a syllogism. It is not even a dialectic. It is associative. Two images are placed together, and even if they are unrelated they are connected by the mind in language game sort of way, rather than in causal or rational way. A lexicon is created.  Each film creates its own world with its own language, that perhaps other films can echo or index, like rotwang’s robot hand echoed in star wars and Luke’s robot hand. And in this way universes and sets intersect in a way they cannot in the physical universe or in mathematical set theory.

So the way the film acts on the view is in a non rational way, perhaps it is a mythic way, or perhaps it is some other way.  We should not relegate all that is non-rational to the mythic.  Perhaps there are other categories. The rational is that which can be counted, which proceeds by the laws of cause and effect. The mythic is that which is symbolic, that which proceeds by the hermetic meaning behind the story. The filmic is associative, meaning arises from the juxtaposition of media. It is also somatic, our brain (bodies) spontaneously react to the juxtaposition of media and our minds epiphenomenolgically come up with (perhaps arbitrary) reasons or narratives.

Perhaps there is no reason or meaning for a film behind the somatic triggers that it pulls. In this way it is similar to poetry or music.  But when the filmmaker makes a film, she has a script she is following. The script is a story, it is not an equation. I can take a mythological story of say Prometheus giving humans fire, and turn this into a film. Is the film mythological since the story is mythological? Is the opera Orpheus and Eurydice mythological?  What is the relationship between the material of the thing to the intention behind the arrangement or the organizing principle.

But is the script a story, or is it a model? When I create a film am I creating a narrative or a simulation? The story is just the organizing principle, if we look at it via the interpretation of the Dialectic of Enlightenment, is what the enlightenment gave us. That is -rules. How to order things.

 

 

https://www.guggenheim.org/event/technology-is-habitat-an-evening-of-magic-and-ufos

Magic, Habitat, Art and the Guggenheim

Uncategorized

Tonight I went to the Guggenheim to listen to Gordon White and D.W. Pasulka talk about Magic, technology, art, UFOS and other things. It was super fun. Some of my main take aways are :

  1. Where do ideas come from?  Answer: not us (maybe aliens, another universe, spirits what have you)

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, since listening to a vox podcast Lian sent me, and reading Alan Moore’s Promethea. And it seems, for Moore, ideas come from idea space, or the immateria. Perhaps we can call it the noosphere. Basically ideas come from something, like gas comes from distilling oil. I am down with this idea.  For me the key is to connect the idea with the body, and for this I have a friend to thank, but I’m not sure if I can link to his blog. We can have all these ideas running around in ideaspace but until they are affirmed by the body and perhaps manifested in physical space who cares. And even more radical, what if the ideas are themselves material, what if material is not even material, but immaterial or ideas. This is all very confusing.

2. Our environment is technology. Gordon sort of mentioned this and I wish this was discussed a bit more, but this is about the whole fake distinction between nature and culture. That there is something pure that is nature, and something artificial that is culture. Well no. We are in a cybernetic relationship with nature and we are using technology to shape nature, shape our environment. We live in tech, we live in praxis. Also there is the idea that we think with objects. Pasulka told a story about someone who visited a friend with some sort of Roswell like object in his backpack and his friend had dreams about this object. There is a relationship about being in proximity to objects (ie habitat) that works on consciousness. The body matters and the material matter.

3. There are protocols for accessing idea space – they are probably related to ascetic practices, but who knows maybe tantra too. In any case, they are antithetical to how most people in the west live life, and they definitely fall along class lines.  My take away- we need to support body practice education so that everyone can access the ideaspace. (This was related to an amazing question and it completely spot on).  In part, that is what RuneSoup is doing – democratizing the protocols for this sort of immateria contact. But there is really a lot more to be done. It is sort of frightening.

4. Art – why and why are we having this discussion in an art museum. There was a notion that artists are at the forefront of these ideas, or that art can put us into a psychic state that helps us absorb these ideas.  This was not fleshed out as much.

There were some art pieces presented during the talk. Most of the art pieces were technological creations and I could not help but think of  Flusser’s Philosophy of Photography book. For him, an imagistic world (world of the cave paintings) works by magic. That is the logic. Symbols have/are power. In the written world, images are demystified and explained through words. Now words have power (codes of laws and so forth, think of performative speech).  In the technological world, images come back but they are part of a discourse created by apparatuses.  We absorb images. Apparatuses (like the iphone) work on us in a sort of somatic/neurochemical way. (I’m taking liberties) The point is to reflect on what the apparatus wants you to experience, and what discourse is the image part of.

I think about this and Gordon’s notion of the campfire’s edge – where the shaman keeps the other world at bay at the edge of the campfire, but that is where the potentially interesting things (the Gnarl in the worlds of Rudy Rucker) are.  The technological image exists at the campfires edge.  The goal of art in the technological age, when all art are products of an apparatus within a discourse (even painting), is to push the boundaries of the edge (of the apparatus and perhaps the discourse). This is sort of depressing for me. I always like to think of art as something beautiful and personally expressive, but perhaps that is just an artistic discourse. And perhaps within that discourse an artist can continue to push the boundaries.

In thinking of my class on Robots, Computers, and Film, I am thinking about why this class is interesting. What can we learn from it? What is the boundary that each film is pushing? What discourse is it creating?

 

Luxury Kitsch

Uncategorized

These are some meditations on readings I am doing for a book group around David Geer’s paper on Luxury Kitsch. The gist – art world people must allow people to create art that is dark and offensive. But let me take you through the whole story.

What is luxury kitsch?  It is artisinal items. The original argument around kitsch was that it was a mass produced replacement object for people who have lost their folk items. That is produces only effect apart from cause and that it is all spectacle. Now there are different interpretations of kitsch, arguments for an against kitsch. But it does exist, e.g., a mass market snowglobe souvenir.

Kitsch is art that has overshot the mark,” writes the artist and writer David Robbins. “Kitsch is marked by an overearnestness, a pretentious overripeness, a sense of creativity gone sentimental on itself, and a complete absence of self-criticality […]

Today we have a new category of kitsch, luxury kitsch. This is for people that have more money, are looking at their objects to designate a status and some sort of value. Think hipsterism or artisinal snowglobes handcrafted by someone.

There is also the problem of pattern and ornament. It is kitsch – unless of course you are pondering higher mathematics like the 4 colorability problem. And the problem of worn textures – think antique finishes.

Luxury kitsch is almost always a humorless art and thus distinct from camp—a knowing kitsch—that revels in transgressing taste. In contrast, luxury kitsch is manifestly paranoid about such transgressions. Its goal is to foreground taste, but it falters in doing so excessively.

There is perhaps a brief notion that kitsch can also be too many historical or theoretical references, which I would wholehardedly agree with. Luxury Kitsch is perhaps the shadow of kitsch. It is the Kitsch that will not revel it its kitschiness.

The goal of luxury kitsch according to Geers is home decor, including (wall) art. But that is really the goal of kitsch in general. According to this, what is called the art market is actually trafficking in luxury kitsch.  Which I would also agree with. But it makes me wonder what is art now? Can there be art in consumerist capitalist society at all.

But the lamentable truth is that not all great art can be lived with; quite the contrary, this is what institutions are and should be for. Certainly, ‘difficult’ art can occupy a prized place on the mantelpiece as a token of prestige, but rarely for its ocular and decorative merits. In the best instances, too, (I think of DADA in particular here) such work is not a palliative, but rather a persistent thorn.

Can art now only be difficult? Is the Sistine Chapel kitsch? Perhaps now but perhaps not in the renaissance.  Difficult art can exist in the living room as an marker or sign as to the ‘good taste’ of the inhabitant.  Does this make it kitsch? Is there any art that is not difficult?  Is art always the shadow of civilization? I have no idea.

I am going to quote the coda in full, since it is beautiful and the point of the essay cum manifesto. Basically we are hiding our shadow, our artistic shadow and we must allow the shadow to flourish until it is able to be expressed to our cultural consciousness.

Ours is a world of Alma-Tademas—a competent painter, perhaps—who imagined the ancient Greeks and Romans much like his bourgeois patrons: shopping and relaxing in an idyll devoid of strife. The world of luxury kitsch is a similar fantasy and the work that increasingly holds sway as the bourgeois ideal of untroubled separation casts all darker visions to the side much like the economically displaced in our cities. But the monsters will perhaps have their day. Consigned to the shadows they might now hold samizdat societies and wait for their time. Our task— that of galleries, collectors, institutions, artists and writers—is to make sure that they can survive until that moment.

I’m going to quickly jot some notes about the other Geers paper – “Neomodern” in OCTOBER 139, Winter 2012.  

Geers makes the observation that art in 2012 was involved in a number of backwards looking practices such as hand made production and  process over product – in a way reminiscent of Action Painting.  He interprets this as a reaction to technological transformation and economic uncertainty.

Thus a work by Josh Smith, Daniel Hesidence, Alex Hubbard, Thomas Haseago, Richard Aldrich, or Gedi Sibony, just to name a few, might juxta- pose a modernist look with a material process, counterbalancing aesthetic delectation with ascetic denial… Incorporating the received values of materialism and context-sensitivity, today’s neo-formalism nevertheless pursues an art of intuitive, aesthetic arrangement that satisfies the need for formal continuities and simple answers during a particularly complex time.

Ouch! Not much different from the earlier essay. However in this case there is the attack of solipsism. That modernism is being reflected through the personal tastes of the artist to create a new work in this echo chamber of inside jokes and personal psychology (I refrain from mythology since mythology is what I consider more universal).

From a structural perspective, this shift in focus from discourse to subjectivity and from representation to thing counters more dematerialized practices such as conceptual and media-based work.

and

If we consider the formal veneer of the works in question, the structure of today’s art market, and the ornate passivity of its championed prod- ucts, we see a return to a premodern condition, in which the artwork is limited largely to a propagandistic, affirmative, or decorative role, as was the case with eighteenth-century painting. Indeed, one only has to look at Nattier, Fragonard, and Boucher to see the operational horizon and destiny of much of today’s production… it greets a pre-primed spectator, already indoctrinated into the codes and mythologies of the modern, who happily welcomes it as a return to old certainties—an echo of a lost golden age.

Is there any hope? Maybe not in modernism…