Sunday, April 03, 2005

Dept. of corrections:

1) Magik Markers, Liz C. informs/reminds me.

2) Re this Beck review, Jane D. corrects by Spanish:

..."Que onda" literally translates as "how's your wave?" ("micro-onda" is a microwave; so cute, our neighbors). It's probably surfer slang originally; definitely stems from the Cancun coast; and has the general meaning of "how ya doin'?" "what's going on?" or etc.)

Do you see why I'm worried about AF (even though I combed it much more carefully and frequently than I usually manage to w/ a half-pager)? [or a post here.]


A stink I first noticed in the apt. on returning from New York, which I thought might have been caused by the refrigerator shutting off while I was gone, and which dissipated after cleaning out same (though there was no other evidence of a power failure) seems to have been from a small decomposing rodent under the refrigerator. Today, something I took to be a torn piece of rubber floorguard or the like was poking out from the fridge's bottom edge; when I pulled it out with my shoe, it was connected to some hunks of fur. No stench, no recognizable head, and most fortunately, no apparent bugs or parasites. Still, took some stomach to pull it out all the way and dispose of it; no earthly idea how it got there.


First note reproduced from Duchamp's White Box: "Can works be made which are not 'of art'?" Related to Dominic Lopes' talk this weekend, which pointed out, among other things, that in key statements by Kosuth, A-L, etc., 'art' is generally elliptical for 'visual art.' Lopes' claim being that Conceptual Art is misunderstood (and, though he said less about this self-misunderstood), to the extent that it is taken to be a challenge from within the category of visual art; instead, he sees some such works as a distinct art form -- the fact that many comment on more traditional forms (and were probably arrived at by reflection on same) does not show that they are instances of those forms. (I don't think he means to do anything particularly metaphysical with forms, which are plausibly historical artifacts; also draws a distinction between art forms and media that seemed ok at the time though I need to think more about what work it's doing.) Parallel issues/options came up in a talk on sound-art as distinct from music; but that presentation raised the issue without carving up the surrounding conceptual space in an illuminating way.

See also Martha Buskirk, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art, for a discussion of Robert Morris' Statement of Esthetic Withdrawal, consisting of a lead relief of his Litanies and an attached legalistic declaration that "all esthetic quality and content" has been withdrawn from the earlier work. What I wasn't aware of when I saw this in MOMA two weeks ago was that the later work was made after Morris got sick of waiting for payment on the first, from Philip Johnson. That gives it an interesting role in the collection -- given the entrance gallery, where the hanging of a Lichtenstein (noted earlier) and a Warhol 'green stamps' painting is dedicated to Johnson -- and makes a little more sense of why it's one of the very few conceptual pieces on show, several floors above. (What else? One and Three Chairs, a Broodthaers that would be perfectly understandable as assemblage, and one other thing I've forgotten -- so set apart, and decontextualized that you could almost think the movement actually had some merit as an institutional challenge, given that the insitution would prefer to ignore it.)


My own commenting gig went fine, though the (Dutch) author of the paper had dropped out of attending in person, so the text was read by the conference organizer, w/ the result that during the Q&A I was more or less fielding questions about what someone else's position would be. Heartening: Bordieu actually did come up, even in a mostly analytic crowd, during a discussion of Gary Iseminger's new book which attempts to reconcile aesthetic and institituional theories of art. (Problem is that the 'definition of art' question is not exactly the most interesting part of aesthetics, from where I sit.) Disheartening: What was supposed to be a talk on cross-cultural aesthetics by an older gentleman turned out to be a disorganized polemic against analytic philosophy, which was cast in the space of a few minutes as unthinking empiricism and ungrounded a priorism. Merely polemic -- not even rhetorically interesting. (The inverse of my response to a review of a recent analytic anthology from British Journal of Aesthetics, the reviewer taking the occasion to make the Carnapian "perhaps they're poets -- but bad ones" charge against Continental philosophy of art; and that the latter can't/doesn't do anything but make art sound very deep and mysterious, which I would think that two sentences of exposure to Distinction would belie.)

And, amazingly, there were a couple of talks that were too intentionalist for me, even.


What to make of the fact that much of Joe B.'s best work was roughly contemporaneous w/ minimalism and NY C.A., but could only be viewed as coming out of the same concerns w/ some uncomfortable stretching? (Attitude to collage is out of Surrealism, Cornell; limitlessly interested in facture, the hand.) He must have known of all the anti-aesthetic production; what could it have meant for him? Good way to get written out of the history books, anyway.

Hard, also, not to be struck by the limited role 'the political' plays in Padgett's narrative. JB Makes an anti-war poster or two, mentions in a letter that a march was "fun"; along similar lines, he was not placed to view coming out as a more than existential victory. (World worse, now? Committment -- or awareness of necessity committment -- unavoidable? Awful and mistaken feeling that it would be wrong, as things stand, to find participation pleasurable. Guilt --> incapacity for joy.) Was it just that shaking off their upbringings -- Joe is very much a book about becoming -- was struggle enough for the Tulsa Kids?


Sat.; caught three talks at the linguistic/phil/cog. sci. confrence at Pomona. Jerry Saddock on pragmatics/semantics issues in the use of number-words, only moderately technical; Larry Horn on conversational implicature w/r/t "only," flying through the data; and, on the lighter side, Paul Benacerraf on personal memories of Kurt Godel at Princeton, with some exposition of how his mathematical work (and his own experience of mathematical intuition) led him to dualism, and, you guessed it, Platonism (in ways that only showed up publicly in a few footnotes). Anecdote: While visiting the Institute for Advanced Study early in his career, Chomsky asked Godel what he was working on now. A: "Oh...trying to show that the laws of nature are a priori."

Lakoff's talk the day before (while I was driving down from Monterey) was, I gather from reports, largely political, with "framing" as the stick-turned-hobbyhorse.


Later: (1) Schaivo/Rousseau/Il Papa/Rammelzee. (2) What I listened to for 10 hrs. on Hwy 5. (3) Tonight's noirs.

Much later: What 'musical Platonism' does/doesn't commit me to.


A towel on the rack means: "I'll use it again."

A towel in the tub means: "Please exchange."

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