I feel enriched

As if I ate of a pomegranate

The prickly-soft fruit

 

I feel the darkling hatch from eye

With beams enough for the both of us

Caravaggio and his grapes would approve

I'm sure

 

We feel enriched like pomegranates

When we wake up on summer days

And the sky is blue

And the sun continues to gleam

May 5, 2016

In the simple common face of darkness

Where their individuality peppered the street

The worn-down store front plantains

And the bitter garlic plastic

I bought from the store

 

How could I not feel

 A stranger of compassion

without pity

For they are different you know

 

How could I not see

That the angled steel streets

Had a structure and contour whose

Dailiness I didn't know?

 

With that healthy sweat (it smelt good)

I perused this wonderland

The gentle breeze

Of a rough, yet musical poverty

 

I could sense that difference that unites Man (a joyful being)

And makes a farce of difference itself

And I could sense Rousseau's kindness

Which was like the fresh vitality

Of the apple I had eaten earlier

 

And all the while I didn't think of books

I strung those words together

About capitalism

That enemy-friend

Who my heart yearns to disappear

 

And all the while

I thought of God

Who doesn't exist

And I loved Him for that

 

I love Him more than any other thing

In this frail yet endless world

And this is why He doesn't exist

And I love that

 

In the dark smooth wrinkled faces

And the kind, random alien phrases

Sent like a poem toward me

(I remember I was in the staircase)

(I couldn't find the door)

 

It occurred to me

that I was alive

And I took a wager

Not a leap, but a skip

That Man was potentially

Maybe

You know, I believe it

I really really like this phrase:

A Good thing

 

 

 

 

 

The Bird

 

the openness of the sky

like a book which reads

its visions into nothingness

 

the stalk of a tree

and the crested bird

whose erudition

is unparalleled

 

the matrix of a field

whose color gives its leaves

a tragic quality

 

the beautification of the angel

with its fluttering putti

who fall from the sky

The Meaning of Creativity: An Ode to Coltrane

On Human Creatiivty: An Ode to John Coltrane

In our last post we talked about what might constitute a new vision of humanity, a new relation to self and selfhood that might allow us to transcend the vicious and endless domination of Money.   Yet we left this vision somewhat in the negative. We counterposed it to the false creativity of “innovation” as well as the narcissistic forms of snapchat sociality and we realized that to be truly creative means to go beyond the inhuman workings of a system that may have nonetheless inscribed within it various variations, reshufflings, and innovations.  We declared that to create was to create beyond and outside of the system: “to live without Money.”

But how will we elaborate this in a more positive manner? Let us take as our guide one of our earlier posts, where we attempted to say what art is.  There we discovered that art is infinite and as such it is universal.  On this point, we must say that human creativity and art are related, obviously, but let us now say also that human creativity is the broader notion and art, or actual artworks, are a more specific manifestation within it. Nevertheless artworks and artists are our clearest indicators of the trajectory we must take in regard to human creativity in general.  Art and artists are our guides, and throughout history they have always been such. 

If art is infinite and universal, to become part of an artistic situation, an artistic truth or movement, means also to take part in what is infinite and universal, it is to become an infinite universality.  To become part of this infinite universality is simply to realize what is proper to you: not simply an animal body lost in the flurry of commodities, within an inhuman system that has no need for you, but the transcendence of these very forms of domination. 

The transcendence of forms of domination is itself part of the nature of infinity. No one controls infinity. It is in-finite, beyond the limits and closures that those in power are constantly putting forth in order to sediment their control.  If the transcendence of domination is infinite, this means that infinity is essentially egalitarian.  If an artwork truly is an artwork, it establishes equality there, in the artwork itself.

What else could human creativity be than this capacity for transcendence, than the capacity to become infinite, which is always of necessity beyond the limits of Money? The new vision and the new way to live is the maxim: “become infinite!”

Yet this is rather abstract: in truth what does it mean to “become infinite”? What are these vague spiritualisms? We said that art is our guiding thread, and that it is in the artwork that we can see the process of infinity unfolding. 

There is perhaps no greater paradigm of the process of becoming infinite than the music of John Coltrane.  By examining the Truth he elaborates, a whole region of positive determinations and contrasts will appear before us.  In a previous post, we contrasted a Kirchner painting with the iconic Kim Kardashian “Break the Internet” photo.  In the Kirchner, we discovered art’s capacity to sublimate our animal and perverse desires into the purity of color, form, expression and universality.  In the Kim Kardhashian photo we saw the exact opposite: we saw the annihilation of all forms of expression in the mute and purposeless image of barbaric pornography.  If there we were comparing two ways of seeing, of feeling out our visual relationship to the world, now we will think about what it means to hear, or to listen in a new and positive manner.


The transformation of humanity in the new vision will mean that we will be ready to develop and also recover purer and truer modes of both seeing and listening.  What sort of listening occurs today? How do we hear the world around us? Undoubtedly, we are barraged with texts and social media posts and updates and notifications all the time.  The world is a sort of incessant cacophony with no meaning or direction, caught, at the same time, in the homogenous and unpleasant blur of our own distracted consciousness.  The late works of Coltrane are also in a sense “cacophonous.”   They attain a level of freedom and unboundedness that seems to transcend any coherent structure.  Yet what we will see is that the sound of Coltrane is like a reverse mirror image to the sound of our techno-alienated sociality.  Let us schematize this in advance before going into more detail.

 

Techno-alienated Sociality                                          John Coltrane

Finite disorder                                                             Disordered to the finite, infinite

External/without autonomy                                      Internal and autonomous

“Collaboration” through individuality                     Individuality through collaboration

Within Money                                                             Beyond Money

 

Let us move through each of these contrasts.  Each point of the analysis forms an interwoven whole, whereby we will be able to see both what constitutes the negativity of the human spirit today and the positivity offered to us by Coltrane, who allows us to see for ourselves what it means to truly be human, and what being a human will sound like, literally.

Lets begin with the first reversal: finite disorder vs. disordered to the finite, or infinite.  In what sense is techno-alienated sociality a “finite disorder”? We know it is disordered: notifications come at random, so do texts, people sometimes reply, sometimes they do not, we see random statuses from people we don’t know, or random and pointless images from people we do know.  There seems to be no order, from which way it comes or why, to the disconnected cacophony of techno-alienated language.

Why then is it “finite"? To understand this we must already jump to the final contrast, within money vs beyond money, which is the linchpin of the whole, and the original distinction we used in order to begin to elaborate the new vision.  Just like “innovation” in tech, marketing, and business, we must understand the way the spontaneous forms of communication in techno-alienated sociality actually are inscribed deeply within the inhuman mechanism of Money in advance.  We think we are free, but it is really Money that is calling the shots. 

Why have we gotten to this space of disordered and constant communication? To start, capitalism drives forward the development of technology incessantly.  This is a historical, empirical fact, if we observe how the rate of growth of technology since the beginning of capitalism dwarfs practically ten-fold any other period in history.  But there is a structural reason for this incessant growth.  The need to produce more capital, to maximize profit (which is ultimately the defining character of the capitalist system) requires constantly more efficient forms of commodity-production, to sell more, and thus to make more.  At the same time, new technologies create new sorts of commodities, conveniences, and thus produce new demands and more markets.  Again, selling more. 

But obviously we do not mean to say that simply using technology means living within Money, for that would be absurd.  We must understand how technology relates to communications.  Why is the world today incessantly “communicating” and trading information?  First off, because this rapid-fire matrix of circulation and media is enormously profitable.  Yet, it is not just the selling-point of each click or post that makes communication amenable to capitalism, it is also the sense in which the circulation of media itself, of imagetic, simulated life drives forward capitalism’s own self-reproduction. Media enhances capitalism’s own power to maintain itself.  Today not only do we buy an object and so grant the capitalist his return, but rather our buying things (which is now our own sociality in “connectivity”) becomes the granting of permission to have that very sociality controlled and maintained by advertising and marketing mechanisms.  I do not just buy a piece of bread from the supermarket: I buy my piece of bread, but only on the condition that the supermarket watch over me and make me continually stare at all the other products on sale, never to leave.  As a poignant Clash song once put it “we’re all lost in the supermarket.”   

The disorder of techno-alienating sociality is like one massive supermarket with a million consumers all buying random products, while also being forced to stare at every other consumer also buying a random product, and every consumer doing the same to everyone else: an endlessly disorienting and alienating anarchy.  But where does all this anarchy occur? It occurs in the supermarket. The supermarket, Money, is the limit and the closure, the finitude from which we are not allowed to escape. And the more products we buy, the more they force us to stay within the supermarket. 

How is it with John Coltrane?  Why does Coltrane sound random and disordered? And where is Coltrane’s music? Is it in the supermarket? The truth is that Coltrane’s music is nowhere. Why? Because it is infinite. It is not in the supermarket. Let us explain.

We will take the album “Expression” by Coltrane as our example.  It is one of his latest albums, soon before the artistic hero and genius died.  For the past fifteen or so years before this album, Coltrane had been progressively transforming, defining his own style, and experimenting with various harmonic innovations.  Coltrane continued to develop these formal innovations within the warmth, romanticism, and expressionism that is proper to jazz.  As Coltrane developed, he continued to purify and purify jazz.  He took improvisation to the absolute limit while never losing the immediate and romantic depth of voice, patience, and discipline that makes real jazz sublimely beautiful.

It’s the purification of all these elements that lead to John Coltrane activating and maintaining a pure form of infinity.  We must understand that jazz explicitly rose out of and expresses the African-American experience.  Practically no other culture has been so excluded and dominated by the reign of Money and forced to live under its yoke.  Yet it is exactly at this point that the African-American experience develops the rebellious human possibilities that can rupture Money itself.  Whereas Money demands standardization and commodification, jazz - on the skeletons of old broadway tunes - invents free and unbounded lyricism and communication.  While Money demands that we are see ourselves “connecting” - when we are really only putting forth images of our selves - jazz sees the individual find complete self-expression only through immediately responding to every other member of the group, also in their individuality, and as a whole. 

 “Expression” is an example of this purification of the truth of jazz beyond Money.  In each minute instance, John Coltrane is inventing and re-inventing what is musically possible.  Each phrase is like a fragment of a new language, turning and re-turning, orienting itself into an impossible fabric whose pure form is its own incessantly romantic decomposition.  At every instance, what is required is to catch on to the pure grooves of time where an unbounded infinity exists beyond all capture.  And yet, in each second, at the very same time as we are being released into new possibilities, the work is developing and creating its own sense of order, its own sense of discipline and harmony. It is creating its own world.  It truly is an order, but it is an infinite one. It is only to the standpoint of Money that is cacophonous.  While to Money itself, its own horrid cacophony is smooth functioning.

This pure form of creation, embedded within the purification of jazz, also activates the second and third of our criteria: internal and autonomous, and individuality through collaboration. The former, for Coltrane must draw these possibilities from his own soul; no standardized “platform” provides them for him. He is beyond Money. At the same time, this autonomy is only possible by constantly responding to the autonomy of others in collective improvisation. We become individuals through respecting and interacting with the pure individuality and creativity of others, together.  We are both equal and astounding, together.  And yet capitalism claims it "respects the individual." In truth, there is no greater disrespect for the individual when he is forced to believe he is expressing himself while ultimately pointlessly staring at himself and staring at others pointlessly staring back at themselves, all lost, buying pointless commodities (themselves). 

John Coltrane is what the new vision sounds like. It is what it sounds like and what it feels like to live beyond Money, to live in the infinite, to feel authentic community, and to be an individual: this is human creativity itself. In the soaring spirituality of John Coltrane, we find a guide for the revolution. 

 

The New Vision

The New Vision: To Live Without Money

The question of how to live is something that is nearest to us as people.   What do we do, and who are we? Today we are used to conceiving these things as questions for individual and introspective life, yet it is really only within a larger social structure that they begin to make sense and to admit of answers. This social structure forms a boundary point which we must understand if we are to find meaning in our lives.

The situation of today is capitalism.  Since the collapse of the socialist states of the last century, the world has seen the extension of capitalist power to practically every region of the globe. Capitalism is reaching new forms of intensity, invading practically every aspect of our lives, as mass media and snapchat sociality assure us that our consumer-being is, or should be, our only being.  Politically, governments are  revealing themselves to be the handmaidens of capital, and regulative measurements against them arguably will never be extreme enough to solve the problem.

Of course many people are content to live in this system.  Even as the power of capital grows, how can we tell those people who assure us that they are happy that indeed they are not? And are we ourselves not happy? Should we shun happiness in order to believe there is a deeper happiness waiting for us on the other side?  We must come back to this question of happiness. For the moment, we must instead define meaning, understanding this as separate from happiness, though only provisionally. 

What makes human life meaningful? I ascertain that what makes human life meaningful is to truly live as a human; it is “to feel authentically human.”  But the authentically human, what makes a human a human, is nothing but human creativity. Yet we must clarify what we mean by human creativity.  In fact, capitalism seems to abound in human creativity: at every moment it demands new innovations in tech, marketing, and business; the most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that seem to understand people, what makes them click, and can always stay one step ahead of the game. 

Yet is this really human creativity in the deeper sense we must assign to it? To answer this we must understand what capitalism is in truth.  Capitalism involves the maximation of profits through the exploitation of workers under the system of wage-labor.  Since the bourgeoisie own the means of production, the only way workers can survive is to sell their labor in the forms of wages, while the capitalist makes a return by making the laborer work extra hours than is truly necessary, thereby accumulating a surplus value, a profit.  On top of this, capitalism involves competition, and thus various market forces that drive forward the development of profit. 

It’s these technical conditions that ensure that business and technological innovation are actually inscribed into the system at a basic level: they are the cog of the system’s functioning without which it wouldn’t work.  If there weren't developments in technology to drive forward the efficiency of commodity production, or innovations that open new markets and produce new selling-points, how would the maximization of profits continue? It is really the system itself that is acting, for the very relationships in which we find ourselves in the economy are determined by the requirement of the maximization of profit: money.  It is money, the inhuman numerical value, that ultimately runs the show.  To “innovate” within capitalism is not to create, to draw from one’s own irreducible human existence new and unheard-of possibilities; it is actually to be ruled by an inhuman mechanism.  Money in the end is not even in need of humanity at all, if humanity ultimately means more than physical bodies who will consume, produce, and profit. 

Within Money strictly speaking, no creativity is possible.  That is why the closure of all our social activities within Money is so dangerous.   Returning to the question of happiness, what we are begin to see more and more, objectively and statistically, is the appearance of mass depression and suicide, as well as the undeniable and growing prevalence of apathy and cynicism in everyday life.   Though as we said, we cannot impose this interpretation upon everyone, especially those who assure us that they are happy.

What we are reaching, however, is an ontological truth.  This happiness, in so far as it will more and more coexist with the closure of creativity in Money, is in essence just contentment; for without creativity, there is no meaning to life.  The human being is just an animal lost in the wind of the flurry of commodities and media, which more and more begin to feel like bizarre, disconnected versions of real life.

What are the solutions? Unfortunately, those who oppose the sorts of domination that exist today tend to be lost in either reformism or multiculturalism. Reformism, whose icon today is Bernie Sanders, tells us that what we really must do is make a kinder capitalism, more heavily regulated, and to some extent more in the hands of the people. Who could deny that this is a good thing? The austerity policies of neoliberalism and finance capitalism are a form of vicious domination and class warfare against both the impoverished and the diminishing middle class.  But how will reform stop Money? Will reform make our lives meaningful? Will it teach us how to live?

On the other hand, multiculturalism has become obsessed with resisting forms of domination by emphasizing the diversity of different oppressed cultures, their right to have a voice, and the rejection of continued cultural stigmas that are levied against them.  Again, who could deny that this is a good thing? Yet in the end this approach is equally futile in the face of Money.  What does sexual liberation mean when it has become an Abercrombie and Fitch ad? What will trans liberation mean when even its success could just mean new trans commodities? We don’t deny that these movements have legitimate demands. But how do they face up to the essential problem of the world today: Money?

It is this essential commitment to meaning that makes our political approach fundamentally different from the two aforementioned.  First of all, equality for us does not mean just the attempt to create more equivalences among wealth and access to economic opportunity. Nor does it just mean to create equivalences amongst the relative value of the voices of various oppressed groups.  Equality means that aspect of collective consciousness where it becomes possible for people to live in a space beyond domination, because all that matters is the pure creation whereby human beings transcend themselves toward their own nature. 

Our emphasis on meaning means that ultimately what we require is an anthropological revolution in totality. We need a new vision of our own selves and our own humanity. This also allows us, finally, to understand how our new society will differ from the state socialisms and communist attempts of the last century, many of which ended in disaster. 

First of all, though those societies sought to destroy capitalism, they did this through revolutions which aimed to take control of state and military power and then to re-organize society after the fact from the top-down.  The point here is not simply to emphasize that we need more bottom-up participation to avoid new sorts of power and inequality.  The point is that in conceiving of the movement towards communism as essentially a form of management, they did not understand the idea of the anthropological revolution as the destruction of Money pure and simple. It is not about organizing or managing a new society, but the very collective process of transformation in which Money is dissolved in and through revolution, in and through the transformation of humanity. 

Yet we must also make clear, this anthropological revolution is not just a cultural phenomenon, but it must be a material one too.  We will never destroy Money while the bourgeoisie own the means of production and control the state. Ultimately they must be defeated in battle, expropriated, and the means of labor and social relations of production must be returned to the collective.  Yet this will only be a true victory if at the same time we are in the process of reinventing ourselves. 

What does it mean today to live? It means to live without Money, and to be beyond the inhuman machine that might convince us that we are being creative or might convince us that we are happy beyond mere contentment.  Why do we say “live without Money”? Many people “live without Money.” They are poor and do not have money.  But really they are forced to live within Money, for it is Money that circumscribes and dominates them. To live without money is to live without Money, it is to live on the outside of the inhuman, to be somewhere else than it, in the constant form of creativity and self-reinvention. To live today is exactly the same as "to have a project," which means that one is always on the look out for new and exciting forms of existence, and always living beyond the bounds of what might be immediately socially acceptable. This is ultimately a form of radical self-definition, a form of life that also takes obsessive discipline and practice. It is what Nietzsche called the “Ubermensch,” the one who creates his own values, his own truth, his own form of existence, in a form of love that calls others to do the same, without condescension.   

Our new vision is the communist love of art as human creativity. It is the denial of snapchat sociality.  It is the courage to be one's own true self against all odds. It is the obsessive determination to always be creating, to be feeling, and to be experimenting.  It is to step into the public and declare one's hatred for Money and one's love for human existence.  It is to live with meaning, and as such to truly be happy. 

 

What Art Is

What Art Is: Against “Opinions”

Our jumping off point is the abstruse and often ridiculed question: “what is art?” Yet we ask this in order to immediately transform it.  We will claim immediately what art, in fact, is. The poignancy of the question “what is art?” and thus its almost cliché character, lies in its ability to highlight the mystery of art, its variegated possibilities and diversity of forms… “what is art?” “it could be anything!” This is true – art could be anything.  But what does this actually mean? To say art could be anything is to say that art is infinite. Already we have said what art in fact is.

            To say that art is infinite means nothing if we don’t know what infinity means in relation to art.  Does infinity here mean that any old thing could be art, a painting, a toilet, or a landscape, or whatever? This is often claimed. Yet is not the “any old thing could be art” just one possibility of what art itself can be? When it has become the case that any old thing can be art, doesn’t this indicate that something about art, artistic experience, has itself been transformed? Obviously we must actually mean that there can always be new modes of art, new artistic experiences, which have not yet been revealed to us; this must be the meaning of the “art could be anything.” Art’s infinity means that art admits of an essential possibility with regard to its own being. We can never close down in advance the possibilities that might be in store, waiting within Art. We should note also that what comes to light immediately is the difference between making a decisive claim about what art is, what we are doing here, and in an almost authoritarian manner arguing that one's particular disposition towards certain artworks is superior.  All we are putting forth for the moment is that, definitively, art, for it to really be art, must express an infinite character. 

            This is why unoriginal art is not art.  Most forms of pop music, to the degree that they are standardized, are not art.  It's not a question of whether X person enjoys it, and Y person does not, or “different tastes.”  Sure art produces enjoyment, but what is important here is its infinite character.  Art is not food or sex, because neither of those things are infinite (barring perhaps culinary art and truly romantic sexuality). They are forms in which particular human bodies get particular enjoyment because of the particular finite characteristics of their physiognomy, biology, animality etc. 

            An immediate objection is that the declaration that a certain piece of art is original is still a claim that might be made by one person and not by another; it is still “subjective.”  The person who suddenly declares that his point of view is “objective” goes against our democratic ethics of “respecting everyone’s opinion” and once again has begun to pose as a kind of authoritarian figure.

            But here we are trapped in a certain conception of art that is not valid. It assumes that the existence of art consists in its being viewed (or listened to, or watched, etc.). This is why we feel justified moving from the multiplicity of viewers to immediately concluding that there must always be a multiplicity of valid interpretations, opinions, “different tastes.”  However, we must insist that it doesn’t make any sense to say that art is reducible to its being viewed.  The conception that art is reducible to being viewed leads to this kind of problem: “Is an artwork sitting in a dusty basement seen by no one still art? Of course it still might be a painting, and it was at least created by an artist, so it must be art.  But if no one is looking at it, one might reply, it can’t really be acting as art; perhaps it was once art as the artist created it and gazed at his finished work, but now no longer is, until someone looks at it again…”

            Its clear that this thinking is ambiguous and leads to a dead-end. The artwork is sometimes art, sometimes isn’t, going in and out of being art.  What is, however, immediately true is that there cannot be art without some level of artistic community defined very broadly.  If there were no painters, no viewers, no artistic traditions, there wouldn’t be art.  But this is indeed a different claim than saying that art only exists as art if someone is looking at it in the here and now.  Clearly it is the artistic community, in all its dynamisms, that makes sense of in advance what is possible for art in a given situation, what art means.  During the Renaissance, the artistic community acts as a certain space in which certain things make sense as art.  A black square on a canvas during the Renaissance is not art, while according to today’s cultural standards it is.

            It's these cultural standards that decree in advance what sorts of things will be accepted as art, which essentially means what things in a given situation count as art.  But what if these standards completely stagnate? At this point we get a form of repetition, unoriginality, banality etc. We have a situation in which the cultural conceptions of art have actually disconnected art from the infinite character we identified with it. Have we not contradicted ourselves?

            What we see is that the artistic community, and viewership in general, are undoubtedly conditions of art, and they are in such a way that they for the most part determine what is accepted as art, what at a given time is “art.” Yet just because the artistic community is a condition of art, doesn’t mean it is art.  There must be “art” for there to be art, but they are not the same. The infinite character of art is the “art could be anything,” which declares that though there are conditions of art, cultural determinations, these themselves can be ruptured and transfigured through originality: something new can appear, a new kind of sensual form which appears to have no precedent.

            In order for art to reveal its infinite character it must be original, but in order for it to be original, it must break with the conceptions of “art” that were the conditions of there being art at all.  Art (capitalized) breaks with “art.”  Yet if Art breaks with “art” that just means Art cannot be reducible to whoever is viewing it. Though it could be the case that person X does not think this new artwork is art while person Y does, such might be explained by the fact that X finds himself constrained within the old world of “art,” while Y possesses the open-mindedness and creativity to accept Art.  In this case, person Y would be genuinely correct and person X would genuinely be wrong.

            Art, as opposed to “art,” is not reducible to who is looking, or particular kinds of viewers, although it accepts that there must be a viewership in the first place, the artistic community.  Art is thus in principle universal, not because anyone can immediately understand it without education, background, or perspective, but because Art is not reducible to such conditions.  There are many with the background and education who will not understand, because they are stuck are in “art.” There are many who will not understand because, lacking background or education, they are not even part of the artistic community in the first place. But in principle anyone can understand. Not everyone can do a complex mathematical proof, but once someone gets the education and learns how to do it, they will realize that it wasn’t simply education that made the proof true: the proof was true all along.  Only someone who can read English can read Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean the truths of Shakespeare are only meant for English readers. 

            Yet we still haven’t answered our question about who gets to decide whether a piece of art is original, whether it really is Art.  Perhaps person X – who does not believe this new work is art (though really just doesn’t recognize it according to “art”) – believes he has a convincing argument, as well as trusting his instincts as he looks at the painting.  Perhaps person Y, who does believe it is art (because he senses it is Art), also has a good argument and good instincts.  How will the question ever be decided?

            On the basis of a single new artwork attempting to realize Art, it is true that is practically impossible to know if it succeeds.  It could be that this artwork appears, a few people discuss it, but nothing follows.  The new style is not developed, the new possibilities of experiencing art are not seized upon.  In this sense, person X might be justified.  The new artwork was an aberration; it came about sort of randomly, and then faded away, probably because it wasn’t “art.” It didn’t make sense given the standards and conditions of the artistic community that allow for there to be art in the first place.  Yet, what if, on the basis of this new work, many artworks follow that develop its possibilities and themes, while also transforming the very meaning of viewership?  Increasingly it seems that person Y might have been right: how could it be that this new artwork was not really art, when a whole artistic world, a whole new artistic possibility, and ultimately a whole new conception of art is materializing before him? How will person X continue to deny that it is art?  Eventually he will either have to break with his conception of “art” or be lost to the new artistic possibility completely. 

            Art, true Art, is validated by its consequences, by its ability to develop and expand upon its consequences until it infiltrates and overcomes “art.”  To argue for a work of art in this case means just the attempt, intellectually, to become an active part of these consequences, to push forward the new ways of seeing and experiencing that the new art movement is offering.

            Of course, there is also the problem that what has developed out of Art congeals back into “art.” What was once original has become banal.  This is of course possible.  But that does not mean that the possibilities of the new artwork were limited and finite, that Art had to come to an end again in “art.”  No, when such a situation occurs it is always possible to reactivate elements of the original impulse of Art into new works.  Abstract painting today can be banal, even though if it was once revolutionary.  Yet the truth of abstract painting can continue, if someone goes back to the early paintings and rediscovers new possibilities within them, thus rupturing again the congealed form of abstract painting that has now become “art.” To push forward and preserve Art takes constant reinvention, and the constant reinterpretation of the past in the present.

Art is infinite and original, and as such it is universal.   It is not “subjective” in so far as there are definitively those who are on the side of “art” and those who are on the side of Art.  There are the conservatives and the creatives. However, art does require people doing and viewing art, on both sides of the equation.  It requires in “art” the artistic community and standards of art that exist at a given time, which itself are transformed by Art. And yet it also requires those people who act inventively on the basis of the new possibility, of Art. True Art never happens by itself, but it happens by means of the heroes of Art. 

Thus, we have said what art is, differentiating “art” and Art.   Have we claimed what the best kind of art is and shut down other people’s opinions? Not exactly.  The work of being faithful to Art, of being a hero of Art, or on the other hand being lost to conservatism or mere hedonism, only occurs in relation to particular artworks and art movements, which we haven’t analyzed.  And yet, there is one opinion of art that we absolutely do not accept: that art itself is reducible to opinions.  

The simple purity of a palindrome

The knot of a tree, exposing

To the "I am not" me

The dissolution of a concave mirror,

non-convex

A pure point of my pencil

that spreads the parchment like glass

And a checkered wall

Whose only consolation is that it is not irregular

 

The "I am" and the "I is" are small

adversial memories

Dark stones and Leibnizian gardens

deep-sea coral rings and cumulus

Anxiety

These dramas and dramatizations,

Thread-bare like a heart

They remind me

That I am not him, he is not me,

We are one, unbounded

In the simple purity of a palindrome

It reminds me of times of muggy intimacy

Sweaty, embedded love

Which seems to make a womb and a cave

Of animal companionship

 

It’s a dear synthesis, a synthesis

I’ve perhaps held too dear

Reared in philosophical architecture

Praising an oracle far from love

 

The textured walls of that memory

Which I know will recur with unerring consistency

Are they not the most comfortable,

Happiest truths, too easily forgotten?

 

What gods and thinkers, wars and tumults

Match the grandeur of a second with you,

There in that cave-like space

Which established something new?

 

 

Poetry loves the circle

and Science scales the diagonal

And Reason itself

Finds its grooves in the rhythms of the mind

 

Without a little faith (just a pinch)

In an unending pantheism

From which source will a thirsty thinker

Find his satiety?

 

Without a touch of pretense

How will he keep safe

his well-earned

and mannered soulfulness?

 

His keep-sake is an amulet

that he wears around his neck

It seems to strangle him

As it ticks away

Greedy for affirmation, snake-like I saw him

His head looked beaten, tired and dirty

Shaken by overlords, conquerors

Who will stop at nothing to see the world mirrored

As bloodless as they

 

How to tell a friend that he is not a snake

But a gentle bear

Who just needs to come out of his cave

And create? 

To pray and think, in truth

Are a drawing

The trace that gives form to rhythm

Gives music accompaniment

To humble lives, crossed by pride

 

The second act of life’s tenor

Is a returnal

Though never in cosmic sway

But in the infirmity of a pencil

 

Those who believe they hear at a distance

Entranced by what they hear

Will they not be entranced by their own arrogance?

Will they not give all to this destitution of fear?

 

Is it pretentiousness to believe

Is it pretentiousness to leap across ages

Perhaps with an idea, perhaps not

In the end

Is it not the infirmity of a pencil?

 

Across a field, hung with the spray

Of nothing but forgotten children’s play

He asks and asks again

Not to die away

Those who trace the fading day

 

 

In times as these

I feel ripe for a line

Ripe for death

 

The fruit has matured

To perfect consistency

Perfect roundness

and plumpness

 

With heart so heavy

I fall from the tree

On my own two hands

I fall from the tree

 

In times as these

It is hard not to feel ripe

Perhaps too ripe

For death

Surely my heart is sullen tonight

And weariness breaks upon me

with deadening glow

My musculature heaves to its own rhythm

Like a fantastical dirge framed by the night

 

With the very same weariness

My mind pens a line

Half-believing in its frail gifts

And on the broken back of this chunk of verse

I feel again the tenderness

That I thought had escaped

 

Senile destitution,

the currency of the market,

personal trade of ages,

capitulates to the force of dull time

and placates its own release.

 

Death: which is as much its release

as its preserver; its tattered,

unromantic Shepard

the old man does not even know;

his youth as age eternal, hoary birth,

the opening of a code:

 

Time compressed

Into the screen

 

Today is rough

Another day unseen

What can speak the words of the

spirit, in a time without none?

When the only listening proceeds

from the dear and fragile –

The presence of others, which only

lives for a small moment,

For its being is finite. 

 

Poetry is not language but it is life

In it, I know that the manifest and

variegated appearance of things

Is a gift, and only that.

No one can speak the language

of the spirit without knowing this:

That it is not words but music,

That signals, cries, and loves

What is in truth nothing.