Thursday, June 08, 2006

Betcha By Golly Wow Concept!

I smashed the nature-culture vase, and I did it irresponsibly.

I did it without a thought - I swept it from its pedestal, and when it hit the floor, it broke to pieces. It wasn’t very stable up there on the pedestal – maybe I didn’t even need to touch it to break it – maybe it was starting to topple when I went over towards it and the vibration of my footsteps already made it sway. I need to lose weight – I’ve been getting “too heavy.” (Especially here at the Enlightenment Underground… it’s these cream-filled doughnuts that I’ve been filling the place up with…. When I cook those sorts of things, I always end up eating more than half of them myself.) I could have broken it by jumping up and down… that would have been a better strategy… the break would then have been irresponsible, but better yet, without culpability ( perhaps, arguably.)

What was odd was that I had gone to the museum where the nature-culture vase was on display in order to admire such things - I wanted to stand before it and absorb its beauty and maybe have some of its greatness rub off on me… I wanted to acquire some of that greatness, that beauty, to get some of those properties into and then out through, myself.

I didn’t want to interact with the damned vase – I wanted to look at it. Then turn around and leave, but having only looked, leaving everything intact, for other viewers to also come in and inspect and (enjoy.)

I was reading the museum brochure on my way to the display room. I always do that. I was reading the brochure when I entered the room, and I continued to read to the end of the description of the vase for some time before I looked up and studied the vase for myself. Why? What was I conditioning myself for? Do I want to make sure that I see what others have seen? Do I trust their observations more than I would trust my own? Then why even bother looking for myself at all?

What the heck is “the given”?

“It is a mistake to think that the painter works on a white surface. The figurative belief follows from this mistake. If the painter were before a white surface, he could reproduce on it an external object functioning as a model, but such is not the case. The painter has many things in his head, or around him, or in his studio. Now everything he has in his head or around him is already in the canvas, more or less virtually, more or less actually, before he begins his work. They are all present in the canvas as so many images, actual or virtual, so that the painter does not have to cover a blank surface but would have to empty it out, clear it, clean it. He does not paint in order to reproduce on the canvas an object functioning as a model; he paints on images that are already there, in order to produce a canvas whose functioning will reverse the relations between model and copy. In short, what we have to define are all these ‘givens’ that are on the canvas before the painter’s work begins, and determine, among these givens, which are obstacles, which are helps, or even the effects of a preparatory work.” – Gilles Deleuze, Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation.

The brochure didn’t say that what the sight of the vase provoked was above all else an urge to smash it. In the historical section of the essay on the vase, there was a bit about why the vase had cracks - barbarian hordes from Mongolia had smashed it hundreds of years ago… I had the distinct impression that these barbarian hordes didn’t even recognize the vase as an object, let alone a valuable one.

What did I expect to come out from amidst all those terra cotta chards that were lying around in the room? New vases exactly replicating the old nature-culture vase I had just pulverized, only smaller versions? Did I hope to get to the emptiness within? Did I think that I would find a greater holiness within the relic? Did I wish to liberate an inherent continuity which had been disrupted by the vases separation of inner and outer? I couldn’t interpret my own actions, but I had to live with their consequences… I got the heck out of there. I’d made an outlaw of myself… Oops.

“ The deeper philosophical question concerns the conditions that make possible this production of new modes of existence, that is, the ontological principle of Life as a nonorganic and impersonal power. We have seen the two aspects of this active power of Life: on the one hand, it is a power of abstraction capable of producing elements that are in themselves asignifying, acosmic, asubjective, anorganic, agrammatical, and asyntactic (singularities and events, affects and percepts, intensities and becomings) and placing them in a state of continuous variation; on the other hand, it is a power of invention capable of creating ever new relations between these differential or genetic elements ( syntheses of singularities, blocks of becomings, continuums of intensitites.)” – Daniel Smith, from the introduction to Gilles Deleuze: Essays Critical and Clinical.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Yusef!

Smash up all the damn dichotomies, dualities, neo-Platonisms, dead concepts, and false oppositions.

You have performed poetic destruction. Congratulations.

DON’T patch it up. Let in the wind and the rain. Promise?

”In a violently poetic text, Lawrence describes what produces poetry: people are constantly putting up an umbrella that shelters them and on the underside of which they draw a firmament and write their conventions and opinions.

But poets and artists make a slit in the umbrella, they tear open the firmament itself, to let in a bit of free and windy chaos and to frame in a sudden light a vision that appears through the rent…

Then come the crowd of imitators who repair the umbrella with something vaguely resembling the vision, and the crowd of commentators who patch over the rent with opinions: communication.

Other artists are always needed to make other slits, to carry out nevessary and perhaps ever-greater destructions, thereby restoring to their predecessors the incommunicable novelty that we could no longer see.
(D&G: What Is Philosophy?, p. 203f.)

Orla Schantz

3:35 PM  

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