Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A GRATUITOUS JULIAN SCHNABEL PAINTING

I had zero interest in posting a picture by celebrity artist Julian Schnabel.  Then I read the following in the New Art Examiner:
Wishing to reproduce a work of art by Julian Schnabel....[w]e phoned the Pace Gallery in New York, Mr. Schnabel's dealer, and requested a photograph of any of his recent work.  Their response? "All requests for a photograph of Julian Schnabel's work must be made in writing along with the complete textual passage that discusses him; these requests are forwarded to the artist for his approval."
Such extreme provocation compels any public spirited citizen to set aside their legitimate labors long enough to post a gratuitous photograph of Schnabel's work without permission.  Here's mine:




And here's my "textual passage that discusses him:"  In my opinion this is a noisy, third rate painting by a noisy, third rate painter.  Adoring critics tell us that "Schnabel's use of broken crockery as a painting surface signaled an overtly defiant departure from the almost sacred 'flat surface' rule of Minimalist painting." But Schnabel's huge, clattering picture is minimal in more significant ways.  It is to be appreciated primarily as a highly successful marketing gimmick by a true master of publicity.

Section 107 of the U.S. copyright law provides: "the fair use of a copyrighted work... for purposes such as criticism, comment...scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright" and if Julian Schnabel doesn't like that he can kiss my butt. 



 

62 comments:

James Gurney said...

"Some people must go to extremes to get the world in balance for themselves. Some can't bear bright lights, so wherever they go they search for the dark; they turn the lights down, anything to sustain some level of comfort." —Julian Schnabel

kev ferrara said...

Dear Mr. Schnabel,

You might have broken up your set with this saucer-eyed portrait of Young Mother Cupboard, but I think the picture's a load of crock. Not only don't I find the use of that one blue plate special, but the figure looks entirely stuck on, and I can't place setting. With all sharp edges and no point at all, prints of this work should be offered with only cutting remarques. If this picture were any more virulent, I'd fine china. Your sitter is clearly not the only one with a plate in her head who's gone to pieces.

Frankly, there's too much breaking nudes right now to bother with this kind of pottery humor. If you want advice from your cabinet, instead of sticking a fork in it and seeing if it's done, just get on with scrubbing it and clear the table.

Kev F
Managing Editor
Plate & Paint Magazine






Wes said...

Brilliant review!

Tom said...

I don't know why David but your post reminded me of Gore Vidal observation about another contemporary artist,

“Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an IQ of 60.”

Richard said...

It’s not Schnabels fault that he’s dumb, this is very likely the best he is physically capable of doing. For a man who would, in a better era, be relegated to the labor class, he’s done the best he can within the rules of our broken system. That’s worth applauding, the same way one would applaud a man with Down’s syndrome playing Cello in the Berlin Orchestra. Good for him.

It’s also not the audiences fault that they’re too dumb to know better. They didn’t create the world in which we let people with 100 IQs be on TV and have opinions.

Both artist and audience are just participating in a system that gave stupid people too much power and too much freedom, something wholly dysgenic and lacking in any natural legitimate authority.

chris bennett said...

David, is there a glimmer of hope that you will be laying this on the Dubuffet table?

Anonymous said...

Well, leaving aside this particular instance, I have to say the issue of sharing work online is an important one. The law in America is what is what it is, I'm not certain of the situation elsewhere, and of course the medium crosses borders.
Every inclusion of an image is a publication. Most artists tailor their work for some kind of commercial use (but not always), even if this is only involves the sale of an individual piece. Sometimes a lot of care is taken with regard to the work and the framework or setting in which it is to be used. I think we can be fully sympathetic to someone who creates a work and prefers it not to be published without permission in a particualar book or magazine where it is altered or suffers by its setting.
As for 'fair critical use' - in the case of an author's work only an extract can be used but in the case of an image the whole thing appears, so it's not exactly the same thing.
'Online' is of course also publication, even if we put it out there freely. And the big companies are effectively using other people's images for their own commercial purposes through their search engines - it's not really a directory or listing like a phone book, but a publication and appropriation.
The dilemna is that we have really good resources like your site here which we all use and enjoy, that exist and can be easily found only because of this state of affairs.

kev ferrara said...

Both artist and audience are just participating in a system that gave stupid people too much power and too much freedom, something wholly dysgenic and lacking in any natural legitimate authority.

The 'system' is the sum and product of the individuals that make up that system. When individuals are respectively let off the hook, so is the system.

We reverse this by holding every individual to account for their own behavior: a return of informed judgment and standards of quality, ethics, and virtue. As the ranks of society are repopulated with people who have values, the system must also take on those values. Complexity Science has long shown that bottom up change causes the emergent, systemic properties to arise organically, out of the seeded soil, so to speak. Which makes them sturdy and robust. Whereas fiats are like transplants; the change is pretty immediately, then wilted and gone in time because the soil has not be laid in support.

Richard said...

Didn't standards of quality, ethics, and virtue all get thrown to the side by way of the elite to begin with?

If Elites can destroy virtue by way of constructing popular opinion, I don't see why they shouldn't be able to create just the same.

I don't get the impression that cultural changes happen from the bottom up. In talking to normal folks in my town, which I admittedly avoid as much as possible, I don't get the impression that they are capable of independent thought at all -- they operate off of a program which consumes "common sense" and outputs action.

You can't blame the computer for running a virus, they are not acting according to free will. You have to blame the person who wrote the virus to begin with.

Richard said...

> The 'system' is the sum and product of the individuals that make up that system.

There is in this statement a false equivalency between individuals.

Kids in the hood shooting each other are less responsible for their actions than rappers who educated them to shoot each other.

Mid-wit rappers are less responsible than the Records Executives who put them there, and the opinion writers which convinced people that rapping was an artform worthy of respect and elevation in popular culture.

The Records Executives are less responsible than their financiers.

The Opinion Writers are less responsible than their Harvard professors who told them to treat rap with kids gloves.

Those Financiers are less responsible than the political scientists and judges who unhinged economics from social good.

Those professors are less responsible than the psychologists who started the schools of thought they were educated in.

To undo a cascade of unhealthy culture you respond by generating a new cascade of healthy thinking. Not by putting the problem entirely on the shoulders of the people who had the least to say in how things are.

Criticizing children who shoot each other may make you feel better, but it will never solve any of the originating illnesses that created them, and they will be replaced by a new batch of children who shoot each other.

It's only by carefully orchestrating healthy culture from the top that we have healthy culture at the bottom.

chris bennett said...

Spoken like a fully paid up Utopian Richard.

kev ferrara said...

Didn't standards of quality, ethics, and virtue all get thrown to the side by way of the elite to begin with?

In every case that I can think of, it is the common human tendency to want simple, quick answers and to avoid hardship, responsibility, and rigor that triggers multipolar traps. People get into difficulties, face challenges, become frustrated, encounter formidable opponents and competitive marketplaces, and they give into the temptation to 'win by any ready means.' Which usually entails the taking of a shortcut.

Then, as soon as one person succeeds by the trick, anybody else who wants to win in the same endeavor must adopt a similar tack to compete.

Shortcuts come in many forms and in every realm of life. They often come in the form of tempting new tools or techniques stemming from the latest technologies.

I guess what I am saying is that the fundamental value that prevents multipolar traps is an ability to withstand temptation because you, and everyone you are in association with, believes in, and embodies, the integrity of higher values.

It's only by carefully orchestrating healthy culture from the top that we have healthy culture at the bottom.

The Authoritarian approach? Really? In a free country? Who's going to head that up, you? Or just someone with your exact tastes and opinions? Is your plan to ban Rap and force people to listen to Mozart? Do you want to burn Regency Romance novels and force housewives to read Tolstoy? Pray tell, what political opinions would you instruct Twitter and Facebook to treat as a criminal matter?

The interesting thing about the all-out manichean psychological warfare being perpetrated on the beleaguered public by the political parties/cults, is just how much everybody hates it and is disgusted with it. This is a good foundation to build upon.

Wes said...

You said:

"Kids in the hood shooting each other are less responsible for their actions than rappers who educated them to shoot each other."

Nah -- don't think so. The kids go to jail (as well they should); the rappers are artists. You started off on the wrong foot.

Though blaming the professsors has quite a bit of merit. ;^)



Richard said...

I couldn't in good conscience argue any further on the subject, because I'd just be repeating Curtis Yarvin:

https://americanmind.org/features/the-deep-state-vs-the-deep-right/


New artifacts overthrow old impostures.

Under any stable regime in any time or place, from 19th-century Petersburg to 21st-century D.C., it will be found that the general population has no effective procedure, legal or illegal, by which to either control or replace the central organs of the state.

This is normal and not weird. Autocracy is a human universal. Apparent exceptions to universals suggest sensor malfunction.

The 19th-century Russian intelligentsia could at least dream of hurling bombs at the Czar. The modern administrative state, no less autocratic, is quite czarless. It is an oligarchy, not a monarchy. It has no one who can be effectively bombed.

Final decision-making authority must exist somewhere within its Borgesian labyrinth of process. But for all practical revolutionary purposes, the “deep state” is as decentralized as Bitcoin, and as invulnerable—to ballots and bullets alike.

It does not always get its way immediately. Politics can still frustrate it. Violence can make it angry. No force that can objectively capture, damage, even sustainably resist it exists. Again: this is historically normal, not historically weird.

In a healthy regime, military resistance is insane and political resistance is useless. And anyone who thinks early 21st-century Washington is an unstable or dying regime should pray on their knees to never experience such a thing for real.

Yet there is a third dimension of revolution: art. Art is the domain of the deep right—or art–right. You may not have noticed this kraken. It has noticed you.

Richard said...

> Nah -- don't think so. The kids go to jail (as well they should); the rappers are artists.

Yes the kids should go to jail, that doesn't mean they are at fault. Those aren't the same thing. Criminals are made -- if you were a German born in 1943 you'd be a Nazi.

A weed doesn't choose to be a weed, but you still pull it.

Schnabel didn't choose to be an idiot, but he still shouldn't be in public museums. Both can be true.

Also, Rappers aren't artists.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

Do me a favor and explain how Yarvin's discussion of the enduring bureaucratic state apparatus relates to the stepwise collapse in cultural values and philosophical integrity that leads to Julian Schnabel being considered an important artist.

All the movements Yarvin references started small and their aesthetics developed along the way. Anybody who thinks a cultural aesthetic with staying power can be mandated by fiat at gunpoint is clueless about complexity. And human nature. And Nature herself. The 1000 year Reich lasted a decade. While bombs were falling on the fuhrer bunker, he was still playing with city models of Roman influence; living in an aesthetic fantasy world while his New Rome burned. Citizens of the Soviet Union reclaimed their freedom from the claustrophobia of totalitarianism through black market means, defection, and heavy drinking.

Nothing can stop nature from growing something ground-up. Visit any historical battlefield you can name, and you will see that, out of carnage and decimation, out of burnt land and shattered forests, comes anew green grass, flowers, trees and birds.

Going along to get along is a classic example of a social/tribal shortcut. Somehow, Oscar Schindler backed off the beaten path and took the harder, better road. How does a weed become a flower without personal agency?



Richard said...

Do me a favor and explain how Yarvin's discussion of the enduring bureaucratic state apparatus relates to the stepwise collapse in cultural values and philosophical integrity that leads to Julian Schnabel being considered an important artist.

The existing regime, with its fully decentralized structure, both state and (more importantly for this discussion) quasi-state entities like Journalists, Academia, Entertainers, Billboard Charters, Ethicists, and Non-Profits, produced the collapse in cultural values and philosophical integrity inherent in Schnabel’s art.

You accuse me of wanting the “Authoritarian approach”. I don't think there's anything but authoritarian approaches -- the end result doesn't change, only the means. Whether it's Catholic Church or Nazi Guns or American Television.

Yarvin lays out quite well, later on in that paper, that a single individual of natural authority can lay the groundwork to replace the aesthetic and philosophical core of our broken civilization.

From that point you’ve laid the groundwork to build institutions:
“All revolutions begin as a fundamentally aesthetic break. The first step in a cultural revolution is the birth of a new artistic school. Behind this aesthetic must come an artistic movement, then artistic institutions. These institutions, if they prosper, become the cultural core of the new regime. Art is the spring, lever and hinge of any real change in our time.”


All the movements Yarvin references started small and their aesthetics developed along the way. Anybody who thinks a cultural aesthetic with staying power can be mandated by fiat at gunpoint is clueless


Culture doesn’t need to be mandated at gunpoint. That’s old school, we have much more effective tools for control now. These days, power mandates culture by just controlling enough of the mental levers of the society to direct their opinions:
- In the old regimes, the opposition's books and art were banned, so they're hard to find. But your mind was your own, to a degree.

- In the Republic the opposition's books are drowned out by the noise, so you don't even know to look for them. And anyway, in the Republic we have Experts™ who can suggest books of the finest possible quality for you -- "You will REALLY like this novel about a Chinese family dealing with Racism in America, but look, they're just like you, see how they're struggling with this young girl's abortion?" Obviously this books being at the top of the Bestsellers chart since it came out a couple months ago has nothing to do with it's being insinuated there.


Or let's look at the continued existence of “Saturday Night Live”. There’s no reason that should possibly exist. It’s in no way smart or funny or entertaining, it has no heart, it has nothing at all. It is worse than nothing, it's just propaganda and advertising.

And yet across the country you meet with mid-wits and dim-wits who have religiously watched the stuff for years. They really think there’s something there!

SNL didn’t require a gun to make people listen to their weekly propaganda session. As Yarvin said, it required a different sort of weapon. But it’s still authoritarian. It’s just a kind of fiat that we’re blind to from the inside.

In 300 years, looking back, they’ll see our societal-wide hysteria about Coronavirus in a light that we can’t. They’ll be able to trace the entire media/cultural/political event back to the talking heads. They will see the Republic from the outside: a dystopian vision of human minds under complete control bragging about how free they are.

Richard said...

And from the outside they won't blame Schnabel. They'll see Schnabel as a dimwitted pawn in a game he couldn't possible comprehend the scale or stakes of.

Anonymous said...

This is the genius of marketing. Tell people that they can't do something and soon after you will see how they disobey in media (Internet etc) and increase your popularity. It doesn't matter how they talk but that they talk. Surprising as it may seem, this person is not popular at all in my country. I have learnt from your post that he exists. From the perspective of the ultimate goal of popularity -he can thank you for this post - addition to fame that you provided to him. More clicks and more popularity, because people love scandals and thanks to them his fame may continue for longer :).

Wes said...

Upshot: A general complaint about the dreck of society gussied up as a theory.

I agree about the dreck -- bad artists, SNL, TV and Radio (talking) heads, hysteria about nearly anything, pathos about everything, no heart for what might matter, dumb teachers (especially professors), a neurotic interest in scandal(s) and amoral cleverness, most of what hollywood produces, post-modern ideas, fairy tales of the past, etc. etc. etc.

Its nearly intolerable -- but its not new, not worse, not less painful than 100 years ago. And it doesn't need a theory that is more sophisticated than what you already know -- its dreck!

Advice: don't step in it.

Richard said...

> Its nearly intolerable -- but its not new, not worse

You're right that dreck isn't new.

What's new in the last 100 years is that this dreck has been codified into our emotional, intellectual and spiritual life as "important". That was an unprecedented change, likely the delayed result of the French Revolution, enforced on all modern people under the guise of cultural egalitarianism.

Where 100 years ago the official apparatuses of culture held that Mozart was better than a dirty limerickal tune, official culture now holds that if the limerick was written by someone who is sufficiently disadvantaged, it is more culturally relevant and high-brow.

It turned commoners into kings, and kings into outcasts. That is new and extremely significant.

Wes said...

Every culture produces lots of dreck and at times, wades in its own trash, and complained about it. See what Thoreau said 170 years ago:

"What is the village, city, State, nation, aye the civilized world, that it should concern a man so much?

Look at our literature. What a poor, puny, social thing, seeking sympathy! The author troubles himself about his readers — would fain have one before he dies. He stands too near his printer; he corrects the proofs. Not satisfied with defiling one another in this world, we would all go to heaven together. To be a good man, that is, a good neighbor in the widest sense, is but little more than to be a good citizen. Mankind is a gigantic institution; it is a community to which most men belong.

The universe is larger than enough for man's abode. Some rarely go outdoors, most are always at home at night, very few indeed have stayed out all night once in their lives, fewer still have gone behind the world of humanity, seen its institutions like toadstools by the wayside."

—Journal, April 2, 1852

In short, the universe is large enough for us and our trash. Anyone who concocts a fancy theory to account for so much trash is wading in it and doesn't see the distant blue hills.

But there is a lot of trash!




kev ferrara said...

Richard,

Culture comes out of a ‘Scene’; a close-knit bunch in a milieu with a certain pervasive sensibility to it… that comes out of the moment, era or epoch, that comes out of the technology, the aesthetics of the physical environment, social needs, the education, the food, the soil the food is grown in, the parental norms, how people commune, the symbol systems, the typography and signage and architecture, what kind of transportation is in the town, the politics or religion, the martial character of the culture, the stimulants and hallucinogens available, the outside cultural influences entering by immigration or trade or media, and so on. A scene may be just as much a reaction away from or in defiance of something as a longing or striving for something. A scene without money or material will be different than a flush or posh scene with patrons. There are orderly scenes and messy scenes, intellectual and anti-intellectual, ostentatious and minimalist, original and derivative, authoritarian and anti-authoritarian, undirected or mandarin directed.

The truth about scaling a Scene up for sale is that most fashion or popularity industries are based on pure opportunism. The best way to succeed in them is to find out what the kids are already doing or feeling, and just leech on that and harvest it. The opportunist walks out in front of the parade already ongoing, and pretends they’ve been leading it since the beginning; a much easier task than actually starting a movement oneself from scratch with low odds of success. It’s pandering as principle.

When I consider Schnabel’s route to success, too many factors to name come to mind. I think of his Scene and how it started, what it was reacting against, who its heroes were, how it came to be full of pretension and money and bluffing and selling by the mouth and word, what kind of politics were in the air, what kind of drugs, what kind of television and radio. I wonder where did it all come from and I think of Basquiat and Warhol and ‘Degenerate Art’ and Duschamp and The Great War, and Vrubel and ‘broken color’ and, so, I think of Monet; I reel backwards in time. The reality is I can’t find a beginning to the story. And I try not to reduce down to simple answers. So I simply can’t think of him as a Manchurian Painter built in the basement of the Frankfurt school.

Most people don’t know, don’t like, or don’t care about Schnabel’s art. Out of 330,674,090 people in this country, I’d say maybe 4 million know his name, 1 million actually care, 350,407 own a book of his work, 16,943 put that book out for show, and only 1,240 actually look at that book. Point being, to the extent that Schnabel’s work is preaching something political, it is preaching to a choir that is quite small. I am far more concerned with the small minority of cancel culture woke types scaling out their political evil Pareto-style on twitter.

However, to the extent that Schnabel’s work and success encourages and justifies other lazy punk mediocrities to present slapdash drivel as caviar, I see that as evidence not of a conspiracy, but of the same common human desire to attain success by avoiding difficulty (finding effective excuses for doing so along the way) I mentioned earlier. I don’t see such as a political matter. It’s more religious or mythological, it’s deeper, in the sense that it’s part of the age-old battle between easy Dionysian self-indulgent narcissism and the difficulty of providing a refined and worthy service to others in the cause of aspirational Apollonianism.

Richard said...

> I try not to reduce down to simple answers. So I simply can’t think of him as a Manchurian Painter built in the basement of the Frankfurt school.


I may have given the impression of something more conspiratorial than I mean to. Rather, I have it on pretty good authority from a trustworthy tour-guide that the Frankfurt School doesn't even have a basement.

> Kev lays out 100 begats

I don't deny that the Universe of culture is extremely complex.

But I would contend that this complexity operates as a fuzzy graph of cascading causes and effects, and that by looking at the graph at the macroscopic level one will discover a clump of large nodes that have weighted the graph in a very specific direction -- NPR, Harvard, etc.

While those nodes could not produce the current shape of the graph independently, the shape of the graph could also not have been produced absent those major nodes operating on the graph at large. Replace just those large nodes with nodes weighing the graph in other directions, and you have an entirely graph.

It's also true that Schnabel could not have produced this work without the existence of Chinawear, but that's not a common node to the entire space. When looking at the broad space of art, there is a common cast of institutions which appear universally and inextricably bound in the inertia of our current system of Overtly Moralized Low-culture as High-culture.


> I don’t see such as a political matter. It’s more religious or mythological, it’s deeper, in the sense that it’s part of the age-old battle between easy Dionysian self-indulgent narcissism and the difficulty of providing a refined and worthy service to others in the cause of aspirational Apollonianism.

Politics is just an easy metaphor to discuss Mythology for people who don't comprehend that mythology is the fundamental fabric of meaning.

I do however disagree with your (or Nietzche/Paglia's) choice of Gods at play. Human mythological life is more complicated than a mere two Gods can provide. Every sensible religion provided many Gods for the simple reason that there are many facets to life.

I believe Dionisius's foil is not Apollo, but Hephaestus -- pleasure for pleasure's sake vs. a dedication to constructive skill. A more accurate Foil for Apollo is Jesus Christ -- Amoral Strength and Beauty versus Moralized Self-Denial.

Schnabel is a Dionysian-Christian, when what society needs now are Hephasetian-Apollonians.

Richard said...

* A more accurate Foil for Apollo is Jesus Christ -- Elite Amoral Strength and Beauty versus Egalitarian Moralized Self-Denial.

kev ferrara said...

I have it on pretty good authority from a trustworthy tour-guide that the Frankfurt School doesn't even have a basement.

Yep, that was part of the joke, binky. (Which is why I changed it from New School.)

Human mythological life is more complicated than a mere two Gods can provide.

Don't think I implied that Dionysus vs Apollo was the only bout on the fight card. I'll give your substitutions some thought. But I was, after all, trying to get at my point, not yours.

one will discover a clump of large nodes that have weighted the graph in a very specific direction -- NPR, Harvard, etc.

Lets not forget that NPR and Harvard are institutions comprised of individuals, each with their own agency. Each institution also is its own Scene. People who jibe with a scene seek out that scene. Odd men out fall out. When I look at the mill that pushes product from The Pomo Art School Experience to the Art Basel/Gagosian selling and investment apparatus I don't think of culture or politics, I think of cattle and sheep, ranchers and shepherds. And I keep perspective; out of 330,674,090 beings in the nation, how many care about the long cons of the big cities and high flyers.

Schnabel went to the University of Houston. Hardly Yale. The Will to Bull is pervasive, that's why these things like PoMo catch on. JS's big splash show was at the Mary Boone gallery. Mary Boone went to RISD and Hunter and became the quintessential speculative high-end art dealer of the 1980s. You'll be pleased to hear that Mary Boone was convicted in 2019 of Tax Evasion and sentenced to 30 months in prison. Now if only we can nail Schnabel on transporting a minor work across state lines, we'd be getting somewhere.

Richard said...

> And I keep perspective; out of 330,674,090 beings in the nation, how many care about the long cons of the big cities and high flyers.

I think again you've understated the significance of brain-washing.

Any one instance appears ridiculous and small, pathetic, I agree. But those little crimes add up to an art and cultural historiography that is taken as a given in the schools, and becomes the philosophical stew in which children's brains are cooked.

Classical Liberals (in a cultural sense, not a directly political sense) have long prided themselves on the apparent irrelevance of metropolitan leftists and cultural big wigs, and have repeated the mantra that the common man is good and will see through lies. But a cursory look at the intellectual history of the 20th century doesn't support that thesis at all.

American cultural/philosophical conservatives haven't spent any energy trying to control the country's institutions, while PoMos are dedicated and single-minded about their project to control the discourse. The story is one in which Post-Modernism forever marches across society with no one willing to fight them in the institutions where it can have any real and lasting effect at all.

Occasionally a new cultural institution or proto-institution arises, has a short lived Conservative period (concept art, comic books, videogames, etc.) but before long, without a conscious vanguard to maintain them, those places become PoMo-controlled just the same.

If anyone is to blame, it is not the Schnabels and Boones of the world, who are merely acting according to their nature. It's reactionary art theorists, like the people on this board, who make no effort to reclaim a place in the halls of American Institutions because we're too obsessed with a Libertarian Self-Defeatism.

Tom said...

When society rewards a certain scene isn't it in affect encouraging certain values and actions over other values and actions? It may not be a conspiracy but culture can certainly be directed from on high via captial. Otherwise David might be the art editor at the New York Times.

Pop star's single, "Booty Wave," Most Likely Civilization's Downfall, https://youtu.be/lmCjJ0VBjjU

kev ferrara said...

If anyone is to blame, it is not the Schnabels and Boones of the world, who are merely acting according to their nature...

Postmodern pseudo-justification at its worst.

It's reactionary art theorists, like the people on this board, who make no effort to reclaim a place in the halls of American Institutions because we're too obsessed with a Libertarian Self-Defeatism.

Seems silly to say "if anyone is to blame" when there are so many damn ones to blame. Which is why I both particularize blame and distribute it as wide as it goes.

But again, I feel strongly its all related to cheap shortcuts to success and the subsequent multipolar trap problem (aka the race to the bottom) that begats the auto-trashing of an entire cultural subsection. Until a new aesthetic faith arises within some new groovy Scene (with shared higher values) to fill the vacancy.

When society rewards a certain scene isn't it in affect encouraging certain values and actions over other values and actions? It may not be a conspiracy but culture can certainly be directed from on high via captial.

Yes. But culture can also can be directed in a distributed way from 'on low.' For example, in the last decade Diamond Distributers' comic books and graphic novel sales totaled about 5 billion dollars. Let's call that about a billion individual books sold. You think postmodern art can beat those numbers in terms of personal, individual commitment and distribution?

I think postmodernism as art, philosophy and politics is much more fragile and propped up than might be supposed given the high profile. The Blue Church, which allowed postmodernism to fester because it needed the energy, is sundowning hardcore and flailing. We are heading into wild times. Can the likes of Dia endure when reality descends?

Pop star's single, "Booty Wave," Most Likely Civilization's Downfall

That was surprisingly weak satire from Onion. The real things are so much worse.

chris bennett said...

Until a new aesthetic faith arises within some new groovy Scene (with shared higher values) to fill the vacancy.

Odd Nerdrum and Jan-Ove Tuv's lot?

BTW, my thanks to you and Richard for this interesting exchange concerning the whys and wherefores of our cultural mess.

Michael L said...

Ah, the next sentence in that critic's quote is even better:
"This fusion of the everyday and the grandiose were characteristic of the extreme emotionalism of Schnabel's narratives."

Isn't there a website you can use to mashup such strings:
"The _____ of the _____ and the _______ were characteristic of the _______ ________ of Schnabel's __________."

"The intercourse of the pointless and the sacrosanct were characteristic of the purulent chromaticism of Schnabel's glued-on things."

Works for me.

kev ferrara said...

Isn't there a website you can use to mashup such strings:

The Postmodern Generator

...auto-generates a postmodern-sounding thesis paper. Refresh the page, it will generate another one, and you can keep refreshing.

I had to look up "purulent." (You win.)

Laurence John said...

Cracking discussion.
I think Schnabel has had his ass handed to him on a plate.
Serves him right, for dealing in such platter-tudes.

kev ferrara said...

I think again you've understated the significance of brain-washing.

Just for the record, I am hyper attuned to the brutal pervasive evil of political brainwashing. I certainly do not mean to downplay it, as it, in fact, haunts me.

There has certainly been brainwashing in the arts. And that brainwashing has certainly allowed for the Julian Schnabels of the world to leap the line and grab their brass rings. But I find it very hard to isolate that brainwashing solely to some nefarious political agent or agency manipulating from on high with a specific agenda.

Rather, I think the brainwashing comes from many directions and from all scales, including from within. And its mostly about status-seeking and economic interest, prior to the conversion of those things into political tribalisms. People want to believe their shortcuts aren't cheating. People want to believe they deserve what they haven't earned; that whatever tawdry thing they do to get fame and fortune is justifiable and honorable; that the excuses they make for themselves are actually truths or that they can fool people with cleverly worded excuses; that they can be heroes for acting selfishly; that their bluffing has depth; that crudity is sophisticated; that any reduction is poetry; etc. etc. etc.

Richard said...


>> If anyone is to blame, it is not the Schnabels and Boones of the world, who are merely acting according to their nature...

> Postmodern pseudo-justification at its worst.


Quite the opposite, I'm not at all saying that morality is relative.

Rather, I'm arguing something decidedly Pre-Modern --
Mortality is both objective AND inherited.

It's not a choice, some people are inherently better and some are inherently worse. Concerning yourself with reforming evil people is throwing pearls before swine. The answer to a weed is not to try to convince it to be a flower, it's to pull it by the roots and remove it from the garden.

In the 19th Century, American Culture became hyper-Christianized, and came to believe that no man was above reform, and thus no man was below reproach. I reject that thesis.

Richard said...

Reproach is a sign of respect between equals. Boone and Schnabel have not earned such respect. Apollonian morality wouldn't waste its time with the likes of them -- God does NOT forgive

Richard said...

> Concerning yourself with reforming evil people is throwing pearls before swine.

Sorry, this should say evil or dumb

And before anyone thinks I contradicted myself when saying "Criminals are made", I believe these things aren't mutually exclusive.

Brainwashing can make good stupid people do bad things, see the majority of Nazis or Serbia in '92 or Syria today or American Slavery. That does not preclude the existence of bad people.

In either case, Schanbel is evil or dumb. If he is evil, we will not make him good. If he is stupid, we will not make him smart. Our art advocacy efforts are better spent on people who are positioned to create positive outcomes.

Epistles to Schnabel may feel good, but they will be categorically ineffective. This is not Post-Modernism, this is the standard position in the West and the World at large for most of human history.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

Does this apply to arguments as well?

For instance, if somebody should proffer as a response to a legitimate patch of reasoning a spurious, short-sighted, ignorant, manic, tendentious, self-contradictory, and arrogant wad of reprehensible piffle, would it be best to simply ignore it?

Richard said...

> Does this apply to arguments as well?

Arguments are not people. I think the question is not so much the species of the argument, but the species of the arguer.

Better to argue with a good man with a bad idea, than a bad man with a good one.

That's effectively what I've been saying in this thread. Energy is better spent discussing what should be done with this lot, than to waste energy on Schnabel Simplicius Simplicissimus.

kev ferrara said...

So a good person may murder and still be good? This seems to entail that a bad person may be a sweetheart all day long, but is still bad. Therefore, in order to figure out whose atrocious, sub-moronic arguments are worth responding to, we really can't judge by the person's actions, nor their arguments, because they could be acting or speaking contrary to their nature just this moment. And we'd be fooled.

I suppose, then, we'd need some kind of lie detector machine of the heart, maybe an Altruismeter, that we can use to establish the inherent goodness or badness of any particular interlocuter prior to bothering to engage through elevating, corrective dialogue.

Or maybe you'd prefer a DNA test?

Richard said...

> So a good person may murder and still be good?

I certainly think so. For starters, Justifiable Homicide under law, and many crimes of passion -- I wouldn't begrudge a man who murdered an active pedophile, for example.

Poirot's wrestling with this is one of the greatest arcs in detective fiction. He is an ethical extremist, but in Murder on the Orient Express he realizes that Goodness is not the same as Rigid Moralizing, and he lets the band of murderers free -- a turn which catapulted that novel to her most famous. In his final case, Curtain, he murders the criminal himself and reconciles that choice with his Catholic faith on his deathbed. He was in the end redeemed for his spurious deontological ethics.

Which does not mean, as you imply, that we cannot judge a person by their actions, but rather, that we can't judge a person by ONE action. Weighing morality is not simple, and simple answers to moral questions aren't likely true.

> Or maybe you'd prefer a DNA test?

We of course do not yet have the DNA expertise to determine a person's intelligence or morality from their genome. We may never. And yet mortality and intelligence are almost assuredly influenced by genetics.

Though in determining a person's innate evil or stupidity, I think we'll get much farther with their connectome than their genome. While pedophilia has a heritable factor, it's from the person's connectome that we could more definitively say who they are inside.


> Therefore, in order to figure out whose atrocious, sub-moronic arguments are worth responding to, we really can't judge by the person's actions, nor their arguments, because they could be acting or speaking contrary to their nature just this moment. And we'd be fooled.

That is almost certainly the case, and is one of the difficulties in being mortal. I like to give people some benefit of the doubt, generally, but in Schnabel's case I don't think that's warranted. Do you?

Richard said...

I suppose, then, we'd need some kind of lie detector machine of the heart, maybe an Altruismeter, that we can use to establish the inherent goodness or badness of any particular interlocuter prior to bothering to engage through elevating, corrective dialogue.

Yeah, I think we already have one of those. The wisdom in our archaic brain can already make extremely perceptive analysis of people's internal character based on their physiognomy, vocal patterns, pitch, writing style, gait, and so on.

Despite the popularity of saying that you can't judge a book by its cover, no one actually operates that way in real life, determining people's morality based solely on conspicuous actions and the words they say. Anyone who did actually operate that way would end up bound, gagged, raped, and murdered before their 21st birthday.

Matthew Adams said...

David, I wonder if maybe this is not part of Schnabel's plan, to dare people to post images of his work? He is a con artist after all, such deviousness shouldn't be beyond him.

kev ferrara said...

The answer to a weed is not to try to convince it to be a flower, it's to pull it by the roots and remove it from the garden.

Using Authoritarian means, how would you personally dispense with Mr. Schnabel, uprooting him and casting him out from the high art world?

our archaic brain can already make extremely perceptive analysis of people's internal character based on their physiognomy, vocal patterns, pitch, writing style, gait, and so on.

What does Mr. Schnabel's face, pitch, and gait - to take 3 examples - reveal to you about his internal character?

Richard said...

> Using Authoritarian means, how would you personally dispense with Mr. Schnabel, uprooting him and casting him out from the high art world?

That is simply accomplished through the inverse of the authoritarian means that created him -- it was institutional lionization that made him, it would be institutions ignoring him that would erase him.
He would meet a similar fate to that which Mead Schaeffer or Harvey Dunn experienced under Post-Modern institutions, except that Schnabel would be at a considerable additional disadvantage.

Because while Schnabel’s work is lionized in-spite of its quality, Dunn would be lionized because of his quality – and a powerful institution that has the additional advantage of being true will dispatch their adversaries with an intellectual brutality that Post-Modernists, relying on an oblique falsity, cannot.

> What does Mr. Schnabel's face, pitch, and gait - to take 3 examples - reveal to you about his internal character?

In his younger years, I see a merely foolish man who is cosplaying intelligence.

In his later year, I see a man who has been filled with pride, but who’s character still ultimately falls on the side of stupidity rather than evil.

In Mary Boone’s case, I think there’s more evil there than mere stupidity, although female evil I believe is more difficult to detect, her eyes and specific brand of guardedness mixed with insincere and exaggerated kindness disclose a low-grade sociopathy that isn’t visible in Schnabel.

Richard said...

Although in Boone's case, while she does display a sort of sociopathy to me, she doesn't appear to have the full grade of evil genius required to have built an evil empire, maybe her ex-husband was involved. His smirking tick makes him look like he'd be fully willing to be involved in some human mustard-gas testing.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

As you are probably aware, there are hundreds of Schnabel 'patrons' ... museums, galleries, institutions, art magazines, collectors, investors, and art festivals ... who really couldn't care less what you think about Schnabel's work, or his face. They certainly aren't going to ignore him on your say so, or anybody else's. So if you want to be serious about reaching your authoritarian goals, you'll have to come up with actually authoritarian measures to remove Schnabels raft of patrons from the playing board. And I don't think you're prepared to go full fascist to get that done.

My belief is that 'vengeance' through reverse discrimination is zero sum scorched-earth idiocy, and will only begat another cycle of resentment-vengeance; endless war. Authoritarian measures, to me, are only another kind of easy, short-sighted cheat.

I think good art just needs its own chance to shine. It just needs a lack of slander, a fair chance at unpoisoned minds, unblinded eyeballs, and honesty and talent in the realm of philosophical aesthetics.

I don't believe any kind of art will 'win.' Not everybody likes good art, anyway. Some people are going to like primitive work, basic works of design, board-stiff realism, or hyperstimulating gibberish. And you can't go around banning 3/4 of what's out there just because it doesn't fit your taste. A few years back, you were touting manga art that I didn't care for at all. I am entertained by lots of art that I know isn't that good, and may actually cause brain rot.

The best road to healing, that I can see, is simply allowing people who might like good art to be allowed to find it and be unafraid to appreciate it. I simply want the truth out there and an end to the motivated slander of quality work.

Richard said...

My belief is that 'vengeance' through reverse discrimination is zero sum scorched-earth idiocy, and will only begat another cycle of resentment-vengeance; endless war

Perfect. So we’re back round to the start, but with renewed clarity I hope.
You contend that to discriminate against low art is “zero sum”, “scorched-earth”.
And this is a common refrain among Classical-Liberals, in both culture and politics. It’s the central failure of the Classical Liberal position.

I contend, that not to discriminate is “zero sum”. And how could that be?

Well, it is rather simple. If you are comparing two memes, one of which is hyper-virile but antisocial, the other which is low-virility but eusocial, to let them battle on even terrain is to ensure that the hyper-virile meme wins.

To allow, for example, the paintings of Fuchs (or the movies of J.J. Abrams for that matter) to compete on even terrain with Hyperreal VR Pornography with the Undulating iPenis Attachment is to admit defeat to VR Pornography.

(This works the same way in real-world politics as well – to allow No-Sex-Before-Marriage High-Virtue/Low-Fun Monogamy to battle on fair terrain with hypersexualized, pro-sex-work society is to admit defeat to prostitution. To allow equality of opportunity philosophy to compete with equality of outcome philosophy on fair footing is to admit defeat to equality of outcome.)

For you say…

I think good art just needs its own chance to shine.

But it had its chance to shine. And it lost. Brutally.

On a battlefield that was heavily slanted in >favor of Good Art, it lost. It lost despite that the vast majority of civilization’s institutions were tipping the scales on its behalf.

Perhaps classical music just needs a fair shot to beat Nicki Minaj too?

It had it! It was the standard. And still it lost. You think a little “chance to shine” magic dust is going to give good art anything but a final gasp of air before its extinguished forever under waves of Undulating iPenises? Good luck. (Hate to break it to you, this is its chance to shine. Probably the last chance to shine it will ever have.)

> And I don't think you're prepared to go full fascist to get that done.

Fascist is a pejorative. In the course of history, not leaving society up to the base whims of the Mob prefers to be called "Monarchy", and I’m happy to “go full Monarchy”. Rather, I think Monarchy is unavoidable in the long run. Power coalesces. All it takes is a technological shift to untraceable/untaxable BitCoin, a significant leap in AI, compelling VR, or a monopolistic robotics manufacturer, and we're nearly there.

I simply hold on to an unreasonable, small and distant hope that power will coalesce with someone willing to shape men back into men, rather than supplicate us with aphrodisiac suicide pills and high-production manufactured news.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

I share your concerns about virulent cynicism, pornography, ragebait politics, propaganda passing for news, and addictive social media decimating the cultural landscape. If you'll recall some of my early posts on this thread, I discuss the problem of cheap shortcuts and the Multipolar trap problem. All of the societal maladies listed above fall under that heading, as far as I can tell.

A lot of smart people are trying to figure out how society backs out of the many multipolar traps we've become snagged in. In this regard, one thing I firmly believe is that global connectivity is a disaster. Leaving aside pandemics, and the economic blight caused by brutally cheap foreign labor and products, I think global connectivity is highly psychologically and morally damaging to the individual. Status is such a crucial part of the human makeup. Competing in high school is bad enough. Competing with a billion amoral people, that can be nothing but catastrophic to the spirit. Almost the whole virtual realm is flooded with lies, fools, mental illness, despair and corruption. I personally find it harrowing. I can't imagine what it does to a kid.

Yet we see, already, that the important movement to disconnect is underway. Localism will be key, family will be key, community, honest dealings, the old values of small towns. And to the extent that people form real connections by becoming real people, they will find shared higher values naturally. And they will gravitate towards honest art as a result.

The studies on who gets addicted, resentful, and why, indicate that real community and its co-horts hope and meaning are much stronger than censorship for effectively preventing and curing addiction. Censorship from on high is just a first order solution to the deeper problem. It only alleviates a symptom.







Richard said...

I love throwing around the old “It’s Science Bro” as much as the next guy, but I think this argumentum ad scientificum breaks down with a simple logical certitude; it’s impossible to be addicted to things you don’t have access to.
Take the drug war – it’s failing of course. Seems like a point for you.
That is, of course, if we’ve actually been fighting the drug war. One has to wonder, if we were fighting the drug war where are the missile strikes on Cocaine factories? We have troops on the ground in Afghanistan, but I’m told by a Marine who fought there that ironically, he was charged with protecting the Poppy fields from the local Taliban to gain trust with tribal leaders. Last I checked, no president has even bothered to label the Cartels as enemy combatants. The War, evidently now lost, was never fought.
Singapore on the other hand, which rightly treats narcotics as a threat to national security, has found mounting success.

And while a significant portion of the 20-somethings I know in the US now honestly believe that we should legalize heroin, Singapore hasn’t even heard of a needle exchange. They don’t need one.

Censorship from on high is just a first order solution to the deeper problem. It only alleviates a symptom.

I agree that censorship merely treats a symptom.

But this cliché about “treating the symptom, not the disease” appears to be based on an extremely flawed understanding of medicine.

Thank God our doctors don’t use that model – “I know if we treated your foot ulcer it would stop us from having to amputate your foot, but have you considered that it won’t cure your Type-1 diabetes? Also, do you mind if I have that insulin pump back? We realized that low insulin levels are just a symptom, the actual disease is that your pancreas is broken.”

The metaphor also fails because it assumes that this specific illness is curable. I rather think that the general human preference for the iPenis Adapter and Dopamine Drip to the music of Rachmaninov is quite ingrained – treatable, but very rarely curable.

Richard said...

Like Herpes :)

Wrap it friends, or better yet, don't have sex with thots and roasties.

Also, looks like WW3 might be heating up, so I'll catch you later Kev.

Schnabel is a douche -- I'm going to keep executions on the table for now. 🤙

Richard said...

False alarm, not WW3 yet.

> Yet we see, already, that the important movement to disconnect is underway. Localism will be key, family will be key, community, honest dealings, the old values of small towns.

In what ways do you see that happening? Because every where I look it’s just the opposite, except for soccer moms trying to get Social Media credit by paying lip service to localism (until they realize that Oprah says that racist).

kev ferrara said...

it’s impossible to be addicted to things you don’t have access to.

Yes. I would put this under the heading of 'getting disconnected from global amorality'... (A sad fact of the world is that terrible soil leads to terrible farming, which leads to desperate people, which leads to corruption all the way around.) ... which is part of the localism argument.

I think pornography is a hard drug, and I am all for the prohibition of hard drugs. That means getting disconnected from cartel cargo routes and from foreign pornography sites and networks, controlling the border where drugs get smuggled in, and then cracking down on and shaming the purveyors of both within our borders.

A metaphor for addictive substances in relation to vulnerable populations, might be sugar to type 2 diabetics. For healthy people, sugar isn't helpful, but they can withstand it. But once insulin resistance kicks in, and blood glucose starts rising yet the body thinks its starving of energy... then there's a problem. But, is the answer to the problem willpower? Or making carbohydrates illegal? The easy answer is insulin, which just kicks the can down the road, resulting in a gross compounding of health issues that just require other cheap drug fixes to delay. (The actual answer is exercise, water, electrolytes, some variant of fasting over a six to eight month period, plus hope, community, and love.)

This gets to a more complicated discussion where we get into the wider definition of pornography; that which acts as a cheap substitute for some profound and meaningful part of life. And then we must have the 'what is addictive exactly' discussion. These are thorny issues.

Is television addictive? Is ragebait politics addictive? Is Twitter addictive? Are screens in general addictive? Are carbohydrates and simple sugars addictive?

As far as I can tell, a large part of the reason people watch Hollywood products is to be titillated by attractive people. And it seems a great many people who watched Cheers and Friends seem to mistake the actors for their actual friends and the homey locations for their own personal haunts. (Jerry Seinfeld and Dan Harmon have both theorized that sitcoms are successful in large part due to this, essentially pornographic, aspect of the art.)

It seems to me almost every pastime is either hypnotic or auto-hypnotic. Is that the same as addictive? Is Art addictive? Are strong emotional swings addictive?

Routinization seems to be a large part of addiction. Particular, it has been found (by wiley Scientists out to trick Richard into thoughts he hasn't already had), addictions seems to follow a path of diminishing alternatives to the addiction. This seems to ally with hopelessness and disconnection from real community and opportunity.

This is a long and complicated discussion. And I have other addictions I'd like to attend to. Best wishes.

kev ferrara said...

*(The actual answer is carbohydrate/sugar avoidance, exercise, water, electrolytes, some variant of fasting over a six to eight month period, plus hope, community, and love.)

Richard said...

I think pornography is a hard drug, and I am all for the prohibition of hard drugs.

And at last we have arrived at the point of clarity: there are objects so infective by nature, that we don’t merely trust the mob not to get hooked.

In these cases we don’t argue for Liberty, because we know that, at least in this one respect, man’s nature is flawed, and the risks outweigh the rewards.

You mark that line on the “authoritarian” side of pornography. Others say pornography is fine, but are themselves “authoritarians” when it comes to heroin.

I draw the line on the authoritarian side of Hollywood Divorce Porn, Gangster Rap, Pro-Sex-Work Fiction, and the like.

(Plato evidently drew that line at any musical mode which was not Ionian.)

But this is discussing, not as Classical Liberals would argue, a discrete conflict of visions, but instead a more terrestrial concern about specific drugs, their activity in vivo, and the nature of man’s mortal limits.

Similarly, where you evidently disagree with “authoritarian censorship” around degenerate art forms with extremely high epidemiological R0’s, I suspect that you are perfectly fine with National Institute of Health and the AdCouncil advocating for Exercise instead of Shooting Dope.

I don’t see using our Art Institutions to elevate NC Wyeth and downplay Schanbel any differently.

It needn’t be some disastrous slippery slope racing towards aggressive propaganda and concentration camps. It’s just the commonsense application of an institution for its intended purpose – the NIH reminds people to eat healthy and not smoke, the National Institute of Art should remind people to read the classics and not jerk off to porn all day.

kev ferrara said...

Richard,

I was trying to imply that it is quite difficult to pinpoint exactly what constitutes pornography or which products are addictive in some kind of truly toxic way. So let me be clear about my reasoning as to where I draw the line.

My issue with highly addictive product, that which I would consider worth banning, is that the action on the human physiology and psychology is so strong there is actually a circumvention of liberty at play, in the guise of its exercise. One feels free for a moment, and then is trapped thereafter. Cute trick. Therefore, it is not authoritarian to ban highly addictive product, any more than it's authoritarian to outlaw advertisers from using subliminal hypnotic ad techniques designed to force consumers to take out their credit cards against their conscious will. Hard, highly addictive drugs are physiological blackmail schemes. And they should be illegal for the same reason that blackmail is.

Having said that, it remains true that banning such things still doesn't address the deeper issues, mentioned previously. People who are desperately seeking escape through chemical ecstasy or other cheap thrills, are still going to hunt for that false transcendence. And, odds are good, they'll find it in one form or another. So a problem still needs solving.

I have never found Gangster Rap or Julian Schnabel 'addictive' in the least or in any sense of the word. Nor Lady Chatterly's Lover, for that matter. People are quite free indeed to ignore those products after having been exposed to them. So we are not, I don't think, arguing for the same kind of top down strategy. Garbage culture is still culture, so long as it does not have some aspect to it that circumvents the liberty of the audience. This is my view. I don't believe it is the role of government to act as parents to adults.

On the other hand, I don't think garbage culture should be encouraged or defended. And children should be defended from at least some of it. Junk food should not be allowed on school premises. But what about Doo Wop? Or Manga? Kids should not have unrestricted access to the internet. But it has been shown that social media causes depression among girls, so it ain't just the internet that makes connectivity and sceens a problem.

The reality is, there are too many problems to correct top-down. We can only hope to tackle the worst of them, and defend the most defenseless, especially children. Top-down attempts at control quickly get out of hand. Hard enough to play one game of wack a mole; forget twenty. A government can't be flailing at endless cultural brush fires. We know from long history that every authoritarian move ends up requiring more authoritarian moves for it to succeed. Everything is complicated and interdependent; the unintended consequences mount. Government can barely do the minimum competently. This is why the issue must be attacked ground up in a distributed way.




Wes said...

Lots of clever and intelligent stuff here, but this is priceless:

"I love throwing around the old “It’s Science Bro” as much as the next guy, but I think this argumentum ad scientificum breaks down ... "

Simply put, any culture creates lots of trash. Its not a conspiracy to create it; its not a "reformation" to dispose of it. The main thing is to have a dump somewhere, and recyclers, the latter very important.

The best thing about the dump are the seagulls. Think about it.

Cheers!

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Richard said...

> I have never found Gangster Rap [...] 'addictive' in the least [...] People are quite free indeed to ignore those products after having been exposed to them.

Perhaps Rap isn't terribly addictive if you have philosophical and aesthetic immunity from earlier and less virile strains of degenerate art.

I am Philosophically opposed to Rap and its analogs, and yet when I hear Yung Miami, I struggle not to internalize the content. If you have been protecting your own psyche by not listening to this stuff, you can't honestly argue that it isn't addictive -- "Cigarettes aren't bad. I smoked a couple once in the 80s, and get second hand smoke all the time, and I'm not hooked."

When a 12 year old hears it, I rather think that advice to "ignore it" falls short.

I suggest you listen to the song end-to-end with the lyrics open, and put yourself in the shoes of a child hearing this on the radio, not once, but hundreds of times a week for a decade. This is hard drugs.

Richard said...

Similarly, saying Schnabel isn't terribly addictive is disconnected. The Schnabel virus is 41 years old at this point. The weaponry has been considerably improved since then. Grandmaster Flash also isn't the highest concern when it comes to music anymore either.

kev ferrara said...

Perhaps Rap isn't terribly addictive if you have philosophical and aesthetic immunity from earlier and less virile strains of degenerate art.

My ‘immunity’ to Rap is not due to having listened to slightly less awful noise, but having responded positively to much better music and poetry. I find most Rap repetitive, dumb, inarticulate, overproduced, and lacking in compositional structure. Thus completely uninteresting as music, poetry, narrative or art (synonyms all, imo). I had to turn off your linked song almost instantly out of immediate intolerable boredom. (I'm reminded of Dick Cavett's line about meeting a particular kind of stranger at a party; that "within the first few seconds of talking with them, you know with absolute certainty that they are utterly incapable of interesting you on any subject ever.") Instant abject boredom, fyi, is not at all the effect of an addictive product. However, I agree that no 12-year-old should be listening to explicit lyrics. Where are all the parents? (Another rabbit hole of unexamined complexity.)

Having declared my boredom with the genre generally, I must admit that Rap God by Eminem, even with its musical lulls and purposely offensive lyrics, is indisputably some kind of work of song art. (Even if you hate it.) So I'm not about to take a flamethrower to the whole genre. For parallel reasons, I am not about to carpet bomb Manga, Color Field Painting, Ferris Wheels, or Carrot Top.

Similarly, saying Schnabel isn't terribly addictive is disconnected. The Schnabel virus is 41 years old at this point.

Ask those brainwashed people you mentioned earlier if they like Schnabel's work. After they say, "who's that?" show them his work. Whatever they say about about, I guarantee they'll never look at it again. It is work by pseuds for pseuds propped up by pseuds. And being a pseud is punishment enough.

We need to distinguish 3 things. One is an actually addictive product (Opioids, Pornography) that can routinize relatively quickly. Two is cultural junk that routinizes due to intense repetition over a short period of time (one of the main goals of marketing across the board). And three, something that hangs around in the culture, bobbing in and out of notice, because it's being propped up by a well-connected network of promotional people (agents, magazines, newspapers, galleries, investment people, cultural institutions, collectors, the artist's friends, and the artist himself.)




Kyle T. Webster said...

Agree 100%.