Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number—Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don’t look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysius, every now and then.
I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth. Ursula K. Le Guin, Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness
Lazer Zeppelin or Spotlight?
I’m trying to get my website going after a long period of dithering and inaction. Check it out if you want to see me compare fiction to planetarium laser shows and nonfiction to a spotlight.
Daniel Spaulding has written an interesting article in Briarpatch:
“At least one of [T.J.]Clark’s points still strikes me as crucial, though. When he mentions ‘the absence of a bourgeoisie,’ he doesn’t mean that there aren’t any CEOs. Rather, he means those CEOs don’t have a culture worthy of the name: they can’t project their way of life into art except by poaching from creative forces elsewhere in society. Hence they always look a bit out of place at their own museums. The art that truly ‘belongs’ to the bourgeoisie is self-evidently an indictment of the class. These are cultural clay feet at which we anti-capitalists ought to be hammering away with glee.
Put bluntly, there isn’t a way for the capitalist class to represent itself in art without immediately falling into grotesque self-mockery. But the rich are apparently fine with that – or else oblivious. The examples are endless. Last November, for instance, the artist Jeff Koons sold his sculpture Tulips – a bouquet of stainless steel balloon flowers resembling Tootsie Pops – for $33.6 million U.S., a sum just shy of the highest ever paid at auction for the work of a living artist. Koons’ lucky customer was the hotel magnate Steve Wynn, who has excoriated President Obama’s insufficiently abject support for ‘job creators’ like himself. How many jobs have Wynn’s millions of dollars in art purchases created, one wonders. Such is the logic of enlightened patronage today: sale by sale, press release by press release, the art world moves further beyond the reach of parody.”
I think it’s true (and has been for a while) that art’s ability to shock or be overtly, politically subversive has been waning to the point of nonexistence for a long time. That’s why it’s a more important task to change the economic and social conditions in which it’s made, or at the very least to foster community and mutual support between like-minded artists than imagine that art is either going to be supported by—or destroy!—an “unfair” art (or publishing or whatever) market.