That we’re somehow not supposed to say one thing and do another?
Mon 31 Aug 2009
Fri 28 Aug 2009
Reading some of this Time article about the high price of cheap food brought to mind some of the many, other connections to the same. You can go read that, but this has all been mainstream for quite a while now. The following is from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (1906):
The carcass hog was scooped out of the vat by machinery, and then it fell to the second floor, passing on the way through a wonderful machine with numerous scrapers, which adjusted themselves to the size and shape of the animal, and sent it out at the other end with nearly all of its bristles removed. It was then again strung up by machinery, and sent upon another trolley ride; this time passing between two lines of men, who sat upon a raised platform, each doing a certain single thing to the carcass as it came to him. One scraped the outside of a leg; another scraped the inside of the same leg. One with a swift stroke cut the throat; another with two swift strokes severed the head, which fell to the floor and vanished through a hole. Another made a slit down the body; a second opened the body wider; a third with a saw cut the breastbone; a fourth loosened the entrails; a fifth pulled them out – and they also slid through a hole in the floor. There were men to scrape each side and men to scrape the back; there were men to clean the carcass inside, to trim it and wash it. Looking down this room, one saw, creeping slowly, a line of dangling hogs a hundred yards in length; and for every yard there was a man, working as if a demon were after him. At the end of this hog’s progress every inch of the carcass had been gone over several times; and then it was rolled into the chilling room, where it stayed for twenty-four hours, and where a stranger might lose himself in a forest of freezing hogs.
Before the carcass was admitted here, however, it had to pass a government inspector, who sat in the doorway and felt of the glands in the neck for tuberculosis. This government inspector did not have the manner of a man who was worked to death; he was apparently not haunted by a fear that the hog might get by him before he had finished his testing. If you were a sociable person, he was quite willing to enter into conversation with you, and to explain to you the deadly nature of the ptomaines which are found in tubercular pork; and while he was talking with you you could hardly be so ungrateful as to notice that a dozen carcasses were passing him untouched. This inspector wore a blue uniform, with brass buttons, and he gave an atmosphere of authority to the scene, and, as it were, put the stamp of official approval upon the things which were done in Durham’s.
Jurgis went down the line with the rest of the visitors, staring openmouthed, lost in wonder. He had dressed hogs himself in the forest of Lithuania; but he had never expected to live to see one hog dressed by several hundred men. It was like a wonderful poem to him, and he took it all in guilelessly – even to the conspicuous signs demanding immaculate cleanliness of the employees. Jurgis was vexed when the cynical Jokubas translated these signs with sarcastic comments, offering to take them to the secret rooms where the spoiled meats went to be doctored.
The party descended to the next floor, where the various waste materials were treated. Here came the entrails, to be scraped and washed clean for sausage casings; men and women worked here in the midst of a sickening stench, which caused the visitors to hasten by, gasping. To another room came all the scraps to be “tanked,” which meant boiling and pumping off the grease to make soap and lard; below they took out the refuse, and this, too, was a region in which the visitors did not linger. In still other places men were engaged in cutting up the carcasses that had been through the chilling rooms. First there were the “splitters,” the most expert workmen in the plant, who earned as high as fifty cents an hour, and did not a thing all day except chop hogs down the middle. Then there were “cleaver men,” great giants with muscles of iron; each had two men to attend him – to slide the half carcass in front of him on the table, and hold it while he chopped it, and then turn each piece so that he might chop it once more. His cleaver had a blade about two feet long, and he never made but one cut; he made it so neatly, too, that his implement did not smite through and dull itself – there was just enough force for a perfect cut, and no more. So through various yawning holes there slipped to the floor below – to one room hams, to another forequarters, to another sides of pork. One might go down to this floor and see the pickling rooms, where the hams were put into vats, and the great smoke rooms, with their airtight iron doors. In other rooms they prepared salt pork – there were whole cellars full of it, built up in great towers to the ceiling. In yet other rooms they were putting up meats in boxes and barrels, and wrapping hams and bacon in oiled paper, sealing and labeling and sewing them. From the doors of these rooms went men with loaded trucks, to the platform where freight cars were waiting to be filled; and one went out there and realized with a start that he had come at last to the ground floor of this enormous building.
Then the party went across the street to where they did the killing of beef – where every hour they turned four or five hundred cattle into meat. Unlike the place they had left, all this work was done on one floor; and instead of there being one line of carcasses which moved to the workmen, there were fifteen or twenty lines, and the men moved from one to another of these. This made a scene of intense activity, a picture of human power wonderful to watch. It was all in one great room, like a circus amphitheater, with a gallery for visitors running over the center.
Along one side of the room ran a narrow gallery, a few feet from the floor; into which gallery the cattle were driven by men with goads which gave them electric shocks. Once crowded in here, the creatures were prisoned, each in a separate pen, by gates that shut, leaving them no room to turn around; and while they stood bellowing and plunging, over the top of the pen there leaned one of the “knockers,” armed with a sledge hammer, and watching for a chance to deal a blow. The room echoed with the thuds in quick succession, and the stamping and kicking of the steers. The instant the animal had fallen, the “knocker” passed on to another; while a second man raised a lever, and the side of the pen was raised, and the animal, still kicking and struggling, slid out to the “killing bed.” Here a man put shackles about one leg, and pressed another lever, and the body was jerked up into the air. There were fifteen or twenty such pens, and it was a matter of only a couple of minutes to knock fifteen or twenty cattle and roll them out. Then once more the gates were opened, and another lot rushed in; and so out of each pen there rolled a steady stream of carcasses, which the men upon the killing beds had to get out of the way.
The manner in which they did this was something to be seen and never forgotten. They worked with furious intensity, literally upon the run –
at a pace with which there is nothing to be compared except a football game. It was all highly specialized labor, each man having his task to do; generally this would consist of only two or three specific cuts, and he would pass down the line of fifteen or twenty carcasses, making these cuts upon each. First there came the “butcher,” to bleed them; this meant one swift stroke, so swift that you could not see it – only the flash of the knife; and before you could realize it, the man had darted on to the next line, and a stream of bright red was pouring out upon the floor. This floor was half an inch deep with blood, in spite of the best efforts of men who kept shoveling it through holes; it must have made the floor slippery, but no one could have guessed this by watching the men at work.
And to add to that, here’s also a bit of Plexus, The Rosy Crucifixion, Book Two by Henry Miller.
There remained only a few faculties the monster would never possess, but of these animal functions th emaster himself was not particualry proud. it was obvious that, if he were to recapture his peace of mind, there was only one thing to be done – destroy his precious creation! This however, he was loath to do. It had taken him twenty years to put the monster together and make him function. In th ewhole wide world there was nothing to equal the bloody idoit. Moreover he could no longer recall by what intricate, complicated and mysterious processes he had brought his labors to fruition. In every way, Picodiribibi rivaled the human being whose simulacrum he was. True, he would never be able to reproduce his own kind, but like the freaks and sports of human spawn, he would undoubtedly leave in the memory of man a disturbing haunting image.
To such a pass the great scholar had come that he almost lost his mind. Unable to destroy his invention, he racked his brain to determine how and where he might sequester him. For a time he thought of burying him in the garden, in an iron casket. he even entertained the idea of locking him up in a monastery. But fear, fear of loss, fear of damage or deterioration, paralyzed him. it was becoming more and more clear that, inasmuch as he had brought Picodiribibi into being, he would have to live with him forever. He found himself pondering how they could be buried together, secretly, when the time came. Strange thought! The idea of taking with him to the grave a creature which was not alive, and yet in many ways more alive than himself, terrified him. He was convinced that, even in the next world, this prodigy to which he had given birth would plague him, would possibly usurp his own celestial privileges. he began to realize that, in assuming the powers of the Creator, he had robbed himself of the blessing which death confers upon even the humblest believer. He saw himself as a shade flitting forever between two worlds – and his creation pursuing him. Ever a dvout man, he now began to pray long and fervently for deliverance. On his knees he begged the Lord to intercede, to lift from his shoulders the awesome burden of responsibility which he had unthinkingly assumed. But the Almighty ignored his pleas.
Pick it up on page 410… it gets even better.
Thu 27 Aug 2009
to the same place(s), when you could have taken the train. Sweet baby Joshua… how our perceptions of liberty have us by the short hairs. Is it just that we think we’re too good to be sitting in a line going in the same direction as other people? Seem too egalitarian or Marxist for you? Come on, people! Train travel is the kind of sexy everybody understands. And… you were going there anyway.
Really good rebuttal of typical, widely-disseminated HSR critiques, here. You know, the ones with casually construed cost-benefit analyses that say they will need so much annual public support they will never work so let’s cut the crap and not waste any of the serious consideration we might instead devote to new fighter jets and switchgrass ethanol. And lo, as turnips mold in the field where they lay, High Speed Rail actually pays for itself over time.
That may even to have been Glaeser’s [NYT Economix blog] intent in writing the series. The problem is that–through a sorry mix of omission, oversimplification, distortion, and deficiency–his calculations bear no relation to the effects he is claiming to consider. So it’s important to show that “the numbers” do not at all undermine the viability of HSR in the US, even outside the northeast and California. In fact, they tend to support it.
By populating his model with a better set of assumptions, we hope to show how badly the economist missed the mark even on his handpicked example of an HSR link between Houston and Dallas. In reality, a well-designed high speed intercity rail project between the two largest cities in Lone Star State would likely produce a net economic benefit–not at all the white elephant Glaeser suggests. In this more comprehensive model that takes into account trivialities like regional population growth and a reality-based route, the annual benefits total $840 million compared with construction and maintenance costs of $810 million. Which is to say, our numbers show that HSR pays for itself rather handily.
So instead of deeply flawed attempts to project ridership based on the Northeast, we should be focusing on high-speed rail’s noted ability to take substantial market share away from the airlines and even from automobile commuters. Evidence from overseas to this effect is plentiful, though Glaeser doesn’t even mention it. In France, for instance, the 200 mph TGV Est line between Paris (metro population 11 million) and Strasbourg (600,000) carried 11 million passengers in its first year of operation. Rail now commands 70% of total travel market share, including automobiles, versus 30% before the line opened. Today, roughly 10 million people a year travel between Dallas and Houston either by plane or by car.
Go read the whole thing. via Yglesias. On a related note, I guess de-regulation of the airline industry is taking the long way around, leading us into the waiting arms of HSR as airports/airlines undermine their business model by inviting us to despise and increasingly avoid them. Neat trick. Maybe in 2024, we re-name the first non-stop intercontinental HSR route connecting Charlotte and Seattle after Ronald Reagan, at a sparkling, Gipper-themed gala at its new connection point in Philadelphia, Mississippi. The 4R’s, indeed.
Wed 26 Aug 2009
When we realize that something is not sustainable, part of that is knowing that it is, not would be but is, impossible to make it so. So, instead of trying to make our fossil fuel use more sustainable, we transition to a form of energy on which we can rely. Neat.
How long will this take? Everyone wants to know, and to the extent we set about reducing our dependence on the unsustainable, we set in motion all sorts of other activities which in turn effect the overall duration of the transition. With lifestyle changes and altering the modes of transportation in service of the former, we induce, and thus shorten, the latter. To the extent that halfway there may begin to resemble being there, simply because of what else can be sensed, seen or acknowledged from certain vantage points, the transition will appear to have become increasingly easier or less difficult from some points along the way, when in fact it may have always been so. It’s just at the beginning, from here – this point of realizing the unsustainability of our position – the whole idea of doing/living/powering/growing any other way seems so daunting and impossible. When, really, the impossible thing is to continue in this way.
Now, one might think that there would be a distinctly non-ideological flavor to this whole discussion. And one would of course be wrong. Because the transition to other energy sources [on which we can rely] is somehow liberal socialist and must be opposed by the other side. Who is the other side? The suppliers? Well, that makes sense. But so much of the opposition to change comes from those who would ostensibly benefit from the transition, who are, effectively, home grown; what’s their angle, beyond the unsustainable status quo?
In a kind of truth, not having to worry about how long the transition will take, how much it will cost and how much it might disrupt the way things are is a great and wonderful luxury, for as long as it lasts, which is also its major downfall, which is really the point of the conversation. From here, any change looks like the downfall of western society, and will until we begin the transition, which is the only thing that will make the view different. The Saudis know it and also know our transition will destroy their economy. That’s why they counsel against it, even though they know it makes no sense [for us] whatsoever. The strains on all the rationales are showing. Maybe that’s what the beginning of the transition looks like.
Tue 25 Aug 2009
Elizabeth Kolbert in The New Yorker on the literary – and I use the term loosely – phenomenon that is eco-living as an extreme lifestyle:
The basic setup of “No Impact Man” is, by this point, familiar. During the past few years, one book after another has organized itself around some nouveau-Thoreauvian conceit. This might consist of spending a month eating only food grown in an urban back yard, as in “Farm City” (2009), or a year eating food produced on a gentleman’s farm, as in “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (2007). It might involve driving across the country on used cooking oil, as in “Greasy Rider” (2008), or giving up fossil fuels for goats, as in “Farewell, My Subaru” (2008).
All of these stunts can be seen as responses to the same difficulty. Owing to a combination of factors—population growth, greenhouse-gas emissions, logging, overfishing, and, as Beavan points out, sheer self-indulgence—humanity is in the process of bringing about an ecological catastrophe of unparalleled scope and significance. Yet most people are in no mood to read about how screwed up they are. It’s a bummer. If you’re the National Academy of Sciences or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the Pope or Al Gore, you can try to fight this with yet another multivolume report or encyclical. If not, you’d better get a gimmick.
And we wonder why people move onto other, more pressing matters. Writers are always looking for angles – society rewards I’ll-get-mine all the time – and as she wittily describes, this is what these folks are doing. It’s as American as the three car garage. Fine. Cashing in. You know, Green. I get it.
Yuk-yuk. It reminds me that, despite the trends, there are more interesting things to write books and make moves about* and these are the mere trifles of people who sit in writers’ workshops and mfa programs, trying to think of the next big book idea. They’re smart and well-trained so I’m not surprised that they figure out the caricature, which seems to arrive pre-mocked. Just don’t go meta and get too depressed by what they write/film; the writers, their agents and editors will lose interest with this and move onto something else before too long.
*There are even stories to write and film that have never been written about or filmed before.
Mon 24 Aug 2009
Or, what will green mean once it has been destroyed and re-cast again? At the end of this Newsweek article about IBM and how it is “detaching” from the U.S., was this:
This is the new world of global business, one in which the U.S. becomes simply a market among markets, and not even the most interesting one. IBM is one of the multinationals that propelled America to the apex of its power, and it is now emblematic of the process of creative destruction pushing America to a new, less dominant, and less comfortable position.
It’s part global rah-rah, but having heard the term before in nearly the same context – as a seeming euphemism for the kind of havoc that is endemic to business interests in such a way as to insulate them from moralistic concerns about people or planet – it made me wonder how long it had been around and, at the risk of misunderstanding it, whether it could be true in multiple directions. I mean, destruction for gain, if truly amoral, could advance along an Eco axis if that was what where the gain is, Nes Pa?
Capitalism, then, is by nature a form or method of economic change and not only never is but never can be stationary. And this evolutionary character of the capitalist process is not merely due to the fact that economic life goes on in a social and natural environment which changes and by its change alters the data of economic action; this fact is important and these changes (wars, revolutions and so on) often condition industrial change, but they are not its prime movers.
These would be new means of production and transportation, new markets, new forms of industrial organization. Sound familiar? Also note that he says capitalism can never be stationary; does this put sustainability out of play? If so, what then?
The opening up of new markets, foreign or domestic, and the organizational development from the craft shop and factory to such concerns as U.S. Steel illustrate the same process of industrial mutation–if I may use that biological term–that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. This process of Creative Destruction is the essential fact about capitalism. It is what capitalism consists in and what every capitalist concern has got to live in. . . .
Ah, essential facts. We quickly revert to protecting that (competition) which does not require guarding, because its forms are designed to go away, or be transformed into something else. Something which may appear unrecognizable, but only because of our tendency toward the above reversion. One more:
But in capitalist reality as distinguished from its textbook picture, it is not that kind of competition (the price variable) which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new technology, the new source of supply, the new type of organization (the largest-scale unit of control for instance)–competition which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.
Now, there could be something very sexy about this, but we’ll have to get over the sad-sack ‘greed is good’ paradigm in which so many have found solace for so long, which has been under seige since the minute after it was created. It’s not merely being sanguine to say it is the nature of the system to destroy itself this way, just a reminder of the very necessary likelihood of possibilities that should be injected into the project. That are indeed its lifeline, if not its blood.
Fri 21 Aug 2009
That James Baldwin does not occupy more of a place in the canon of twentieth-century American literature says much more about us than it does about him. While I have been hard on him at times, it is not – nor could it be – to the detriment of his remarkable talents. My complaints focus on the nature of his contributions – I wanted more novels, less polemics – but again, this is more my problem than his.
And I’ll admit that he was reaching for something, aspiring to something, as well – a power across the forms of which I see him to have chosen one over the other. In this struggle for plainspoken offense on behalf of truth, it is possible to both let him pass and grow hostile with impatience. Instead of trying to support my argument, I’ll present evidence against it, or rather, take the liberty of ceding the floor to him on the very subject. From Notes of a Native Son, this is the beginning of his essay, Everybody’s Protest Novel:
In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, that cornerstone of American social protest fiction, St. Clare, the kindly master, remarks to his coldly disapproving Yankee cousin, Miss Ophelia, that, so far as he is able to tell, the blacks have been turned over to the devil for the benefit of the whites in this world – however, he adds thoughtfully, it may turn out in the next. Miss Ophelia’s reaction is, at least, vehemently right-minded: “This is perfectly horrible!” she exclaims. “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”
Miss Ophelia, as we may suppose, was speaking for the author; her exclamation is the moral, neatly framed, and incontestable like those improving mottoes sometimes found hanging on the walls of furnished rooms. And, like these mottoes, before which one invariably flinches, recognizing an insupportable, almost indecent glibness, she and St. Clare are terribly in earnest. Neither of them questions the medieval morality from which their dialogue springs: black, white, the devil, the next world – posing its alternatives between heaven and flames – were realities for them as, of course, they were for their creator. They spurned and were terrified of the darkness, striving mightily for the light; and considered from this aspect, Miss Ophelia exclamation, like Mrs. Stowe’s novel, achieves a bright, almost lurid significance, like the light from a fire which consumes a witch. This is the more striking as one considers the novels of negro oppression written in our own, more enlightened day, all of which say only: “This is perfectly horrible! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!” (Let us ignore, for the moment, those novels of oppression written by Negroes, which add only a raging, near-paranoiac postscript to this statement and actually reinforce, as I hope to make clear later, the principles which activate the oppression they decry.)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a very bad novel, having, in its self-righteous, virtuous sentimentality, much in common with Little Women. Sentimentality, the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion, is the mark of dishonesty, in inability to feel; the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life, his arid heart; and it is always, therefore, the signal of secret and violent inhumanity, the mask of cruelty. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – like its multitudinous, hard-boiled descendants – is a catalogue of violence. This is explained by the nature of Mrs. Stowe’s subject matter, her laudable determination to flinch from nothing in presenting the complete picture; an explanation which falters only if we pause to ask whether or not her picture is indeed complete; and what constriction or failure of perception forced her to so depend on the description of brutality – unmotivated, senseless – and to leave unanswered and unnoticed the only important question: what it was, after all, that moved her people to such deeds.
But this, let us say, was beyond Mrs. Stowe’s powers; she was not much of a novelist as an impassioned pamphleteer; her book was not intended to do anything more than prove that slavery was wrong; was, in fact, perfectly horrible. This makes material for a pamphlet but it is hardly enough for a novel; and the only question left to ask is why are bound stil within the same constriction. How is it that we are so loath to make a further journey than that made by Mrs. Stowe, to discover and reveal something a little closer to the truth?
But that battered word, truth, having made its appearance here, confronts one immediately with a series of riddles and has, moreover, since so many gospels are preached, the unfortunate tendency to make one belligerent. Let us say, then, that truth, as used here, is meant to imply a devotion to the human being, his freedom and fulfillment; freedom which cannot be legislated, fulfillment which cannot be charted. This is the prime concern, the frame of reference; it is not to be confused with a devotion to Humanity which is too easily equated with a devotion to a Cause; and Causes, as we know, are notoriously bloodthirsty. We have, as it seems to me, in this most mechanical and interlocking of civilizations, attempted to lop this creature down to the status of a time-saving invention. he is not, after all, merely a member of a Society or a Group or a deplorable conundrum to be explained by Science. He is – and how old-fashioned the words sound! – something more than that, something resolutely indefinable, unpredictable. In overlooking, denying, evading his complexity – which is nothing more than the disquieting complexity of ourselves – we are diminished and we perish; only within this web of ambiguity, paradox, this hunger, danger, darkness, can we find at once ourselves and the power that will free us from ourselves. It is this power of revelation which is the business of the novelist, this journey toward a more vast reality which must take precedence over all other claims. What is today parroted as his Responsibility – which seems to mean that he must make more formal declaration that he is involved in, and affected by, the lives of other people and to say something improving about this somewhat self-evident fact – is, when he believes it, his corruption and our loss; moreover, it is rooted in, interlocked with and intensifies this same mechanization. Both Gentleman’s Agreement and The Postman Always Rings twice exemplify this terror of the human being, the determination to cut him down to size. And in Uncle Tom’s Cabin we may find foreshadowing of both: the formula created by the necessity to find a lie more palatable than the truth has been handed down and memorized and persists yet with a terrible power.
Thu 20 Aug 2009
Excellent rant at Grist on how sustainability conferences are ubiquitous and incredibly boring. More grave than the ennui, however, is the other ‘how green saves you green’ schmack that is really the dumbing of the smarter part of such klaches, and reveals, again, how doing anything for money gets you to a place where you’ll only do anything if its for money. Pathetic and sad.
Seems like every single conference just HAMMERS on the idea that sustainability is a good idea but it’s also green both ways, and affordable. But it’s not. It’s friggin’ difficult, more like trench warfare than surgery, and sometimes ROI doesn’t exist. We still need to do it, but let’s not delude people about the on the ground reality. (One of the reasons lots of consultants think it’s cheap and easy and fun is that … they haven’t actually ever done the work!) This has been my consistent message, but this green is green thing is so much the sterotype that someone recently blurbed one of my talks as “Schendler talks about how sustainability is easy, simple, and cost effective,” even though my message is actually the exact opposite!
And the conferences’ issues with conflicts of interest from presenters is actually just as problematic. But this cheap and easy thing, that’s the major issue that obfuscates some of the real possibilities with the subject, especially if the connection to saving money could otherwise be an intro to or expansion on the triple bottom line concept.
Granted, watering down the profit stream is not a welcome idea; but neither is the fact that sustainability is not just about saving money. In fact – it’s not about saving money, right now, at all. It’s about saving your ass and that of your grand kids, which is usually cost prohibitive. The cba will tell you it’s not worth it – and in these terms, it’s not! But this is exactly the thinking that landed us in the place of having to discuss the dread prospect of sustainability in the first place! Onward! No. Just stay right here! Yay? That’s sustainability. And it’s… really not the word or theory we should be attempting to enshrine.
Relatedly, it reminds me of the general phenomenon of sustainability initiatives – which largely amount to discovering innovative methods for saving money at the corporate or institutional level within the guise of saving energy. There’s nothing wrong with saving money, and the case for energy efficiency can be made in exactly these terms. But many such measures could be much more effective as diktats to turn off half the lights in your office or work four ten-hour days, e.g., they don’t require in-depth conceptualizing. Retro-fitting buildings to be more energy efficient would be a lot less problematic if innovative elements of original, late-model designs (skylighting, cisterns) were not allowed to be stripped from the buildings plans, usually by outside consultants, to cut expenses. This happens everywhere as much as you probably imagine. And then, said institution concocts an initiative to find ways to do what the initial, supposedly more expensive design would have done (which, ex post facto, usually turn out to be way more expensive and in need of conceptualizing).
But it’s our nibbling-at-the-edges way of doing things. And now something’s nibbling at our edges. Ah, prophetic capitalism.
Wed 19 Aug 2009
“He’s an idea man.” And this is not a pipe. So be it.
Fine, if that’s your line. I’m not recommending or blaming LeWitt, but when wondering as we may what has happened over the last however long to deposit us right here, well… there’s your art over the last forty years, and your world over the last fifty-five. Your artworld? I’m not saying who’s following who, but… Well, fine, it’s just another idea: but let’s see you and what army take the subjectivity out of that little construct. S’whatifigured.
Art that is meant for the sensation of the eye primarily would be called perceptual rather than conceptual. This would include most optical, kinetic, light, and color art.
Since the function of conception and perception are contradictory (one pre-, the other postfact) the artist would mitigate his idea by applying subjective judgment to it. If the artist wishes to explore his idea thoroughly, then arbitrary or chance decisions would be kept to a minimum, while caprice, taste and others whimsies would be eliminated from the making of the art. The work does not necessarily have to be rejected if it does not look well. Sometimes what is initially thought to be awkward will eventually be visually pleasing.
To work with a plan that is preset is one way of avoiding subjectivity. It also obviates the necessity of designing each work in turn. The plan would design the work. Some plans would require millions of variations, and some a limited number, but both are finite. Other plans imply infinity. In each case, however, the artist would select the basic form and rules that would govern the solution of the problem. After that the fewer decisions made in the course of completing the work, the better. This eliminates the arbitrary, the capricious, and the subjective as much as possible. This is the reason for using this method.
When an artist uses a multiple modular method he usually chooses a simple and readily available form. The form itself is of very limited importance; it becomes the grammar for the total work. In fact, it is best that the basic unit be deliberately uninteresting so that it may more easily become an intrinsic part of the entire work. Using complex basic forms only disrupts the unity of the whole. Using a simple form repeatedly narrows the field of the work and concentrates the intensity to the arrangement of the form. This arrangement becomes the end while the form becomes the means.
Good to know. Color art… I love it. Only serious amounts of Contract Bridge crosstalk could make a cloud fall from this rain. And speaking of miracles, objective amusement has unleashed upon us all the most resplendent of logical exponents. After all, before long.
And people need jobs, don’t forget; you can’t just stand around all day scratching your head about some damn color art cryptogram one-act. Unless it’s really good.
Limited resources and contracts signed and molding in a safe somewhere are not, conceptually speaking, cases which can be rescued by beautiful execution. And though this may seem like an incoherent digression, you didn’t see what I didn’t write.
At any rate, enemies closer.
Tue 18 Aug 2009
IKEA names all its products to make stuff seem cute, but then they’re telling you, “You’re not really attached to this, are you crazy?” They’re getting you to laugh at and make a mockery out of the idea of durability. They make durability seem like an old-fashioned, passé idea. And it works. I think it’s really juvenilizing: “Oh, come on, you want a new toy. You always want a new toy.”
Particularly in the marketing of cell phones. You have a cell phone that works really well for you, and then you have a friend who has a cooler one, and you want it. That’s kind of 4-year-old behavior. When you have 3- or 4-year-olds, they want the new shiny thing. But as you get older and a little more mature—and I don’t mean 50, I mean 16 or 17—you learn that that’s not what it’s about. It’s about what works for me. Marketers obviously don’t want you to think that. In the case of the cell phone, they assume you’re going to use it for a year or less, and it’s not durable. Even if it is, they assume you’re going to junk it. I say, “Screw them!” If it works for you, hang on to it. Don’t buy into that, because basically, it’s all about them making a profit. It’s not about you and what you really want.
Progressive, Scandinavian company drugging us with disposable goods. Who can you trust?