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Archive for January 2013

tell it like it is

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Written by secondcousin

January 30, 2013 at 10:46 PM

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“I thought you …

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“I thought you were like Schwarznigger”
“what?”

Written by secondcousin

January 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

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Written by secondcousin

January 29, 2013 at 2:52 AM

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Against Interpretation (illustrated)

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Interpretation, based on the highly dubious theory that a work of art is composed of items of content, violates art. It makes art into an article for use, for arrangement into a mental scheme of categories.

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In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, comformable.

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In fact, a great deal of today’s art may be understood as motivated by a flight from interpretation. To avoid interpretation, art may become parody. Or it may become abstract. Or it may become (“merely”) decorative. Or it may become non-art.

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It is always the case that interpretation of this type indicates a dissatisfaction (conscious or unconscious) with the work, a wish to replace it by something else.

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Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world – in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn the world into this world. (“This world”! As if there were any other.)

The world, our world, is depleted, impoverished enough. Away with all duplicates of it, until we again experience more immediately what we have

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Transparence is the highest, most liberating value in art – and in criticism – today. Transparence means experiencing the luminousness of the thing in itself, of things being what they are. This is the greatness of, for example, the films of Bresson and Ozu and Renoir’s The Rules of the Game.

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Interpretation takes the sensory experience of the work of art for granted, and proceeds from there. This cannot be taken for granted, now. Think of the sheer multiplication of works of art available to every one of us, superadded to the conflicting tastes and odors and sights of the urban environment that bombard our senses. Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life – its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness – conjoin to dull our sensory faculties. And it is in the light of the condition of our senses, our capacities (rather than those of another age), that the task of the critic must be assessed.

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Our task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art, much less to squeeze more content out of the work than is already there. Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.

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The flight from interpretation seems particularly a feature of modern painting. Abstract painting is the attempt to have, in the ordinary sense, no content; since there is no content, there can be no interpretation. Pop Art works by the opposite means to the same result; using a content so blatant, so “what it is,” it, too, ends by being uninterpretable.

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quotes from Susan Sontag’s 1963 essay Against Interpretation

Written by secondcousin

January 28, 2013 at 5:29 PM

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Written by secondcousin

January 28, 2013 at 2:43 PM

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paul thek anyone?

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paulthek

Written by secondcousin

January 26, 2013 at 8:28 AM

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Iknourkind

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Written by secondcousin

January 25, 2013 at 10:26 PM

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