RE: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity? -a briefhistoricaldivertissement

Thank you, Aliette, for this engaging account of the historical implications
of the Modern. I have some quick remarks:

- you mention entropy as a key concept,applicable to a wide variety of
processes. I would (quite radically) oppose to it Deleuze's -equally
atheist- critique of entropic containment of form within an 'organic' view
of evolution. In fact Deleuze continually brackets the term 'evolution' in
order to 'give primacy to the dissolution of form and the freeing of life
from entropic containment in organisms and species'(Pearson, p.81 see

 - inasmuch as your account discredits the Avant-garde (a critique whose
validness is beyond doubt, i think) by referring to the inevitable dystopian
outcome of its historically rooted fantasies of a utopian future, including
the charades of the genius of art possessing a clearer view of this future
because she posits herself closer to it, in the front platoon fighting to
liberate mankind untsoweiter. Now this Avant-garde thingie is a very sticky
business and one can easily read a weakened (or newly invigorated) version,
a resistent viral strain of it in lyrical accounts of technological
achievements, but i think i won't be alone in stating i'm a bit past caring
for it. Equally i'm not in the habit of indulging in doom scenario's rising
from the capital-driven advance of technology, although i try to be very
critical of the way it influences our thinking. But trying to fight the
monster is engaging it from the very entropic point of view that is at its
basis, so instead i'm more after dissolving it, in the thick of things, the
unretrievable moments that can be shared in mediated but un-mediatised
performance, or a private, recursively defined construction of meaning. It
is there that i try to find the liberating experience of the actual, a very
fluxus thing to say, probably...

- so when the modern inspires us, becomes a corpus of reference, it is not
in its historically defined content but rather a re-activation of energies,
intensities on the level of singular artists, that you may find and
recognise as rhythms belonging to your own thinking, your own drive. That's
why you might find me agreeing with a rather un-Schwitters artist like
Pierre Boulez when he explains his use of Mallarmé:

" If I'd found that in poems written in 500BC or in Aeschylus, i'd have made
reference to them and chosen texts from that time. The 19th-century aspect
of Mallarmé is of no importance to me and is completely relegated to the
background. He quite transcends this period. "

For me the transcendence has nothing to do with any a priori existent form
or ideal, and it doesn't refer to any macrocosmos i'd be establishing for
the better fate of mankind, my Cathedral rather dissolves any historical
connotation it has, only to hang on to the energy it derives from it, the
élan that drove people to building the beauties. Sure, it remains to be seen
if one can avoid nihilism in this way, pomo driven to its extreme as you can
find in neoism, and if it can be brought to any relevance in our society,
but those are extremely tough questions that should, imho remain open
because your life  or the work itself will answer them. Ensuring the
openness of questions, being, i quote, 

'focussed on the 'question-problem complex', that is, the question of the
question (keeping the question open) is no longer simply conceived as the
expression of a subjective state in the representation of knowledge but is
the  'intentionality of Being par excellence'" (Pearson, p.82 see below)

that i consider quite sufficient an a(r)mour for art and its practice. One
thing i'm sure of is that it helps in unmasking the death-drive in the
organised 'crime'of utopian progress without the need of any freudian


Dirk Vekemans, poet - freelance webprogrammer,
Central Authoring Process of the
Neue Kathedrale des erotischen Elends


 Germinal life. The difference and repetition of Deleuze, Keith Ansell
Pearson's excellent reading of Deleuze from a biophilosophical perspective,
1999,ISBN 0-415-18351-0
 The Boulez quote: Pierre Boulez on his piece Pli selon Pli in the booklet
accompanying the 2002 Deutsche Grammophon cd edition with soprano Christine
Schäfer - DG471 344-2

> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> Van: 
> [] Namens Aliette
> Verzonden: vrijdag 3 maart 2006 18:02
> Aan: soft_skinned_space <>
> Onderwerp: Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity? -a 
> briefhistoricaldivertissement
> Dear all,
> Sorry of my Anglophone resource as a pity;-)
> Can be we have to regard the side of dialectical materialist 
> conception of the modern avant-gardes that refers to History 
> for a part and to the Party for another part. 
> But anyway in the modernity as the creation of a message by 
> the venal or spiritual power using or manifesting Technique 
> and as or through the communication as tribute to the 
> progressive knowledge as/ or medium of orders (or of 
> commands) to people -or public as society- : that is the information.
> As Christina noticed, the modern story integrating a 
> spectacular disposition of technique begins in the Middle 
> Age. Specially Cathedrals which received the destiny of 
> illustrated books from the modern technique associating the 
> elevation of the building and the progressive power of human 
> destiny on earth as a medium to reach the sublimation of 
> divine (macrocosm and God).
> Sculpture was the representative iconography integrating as 
> microcosm the religion and the new society to the people who 
> did not know how to read writings - there were seasons, 
> calendars, jobs, administration, power, religious and venal 
> rituals in the cities as common culture, and so on...
> But as a progress (which is all different from antique 
> civilizations which repeated the same to search Eternity).
> For a part we recall that technical progress is dialectically 
> associated to the social progress till the Christian Bible 
> until The capital in a same materialist vision ; from the 
> part of Augustin as a former Gnostic when he invented utopia 
> as the house of God not being built on earth, but if we 
> regard in pertinence his text to another one on the expansive 
> progress, the title of which is Ecclesiast, it means that the 
> human society would try to recover the divine model on earth 
> with the means of the realization of Utopia by working and 
> inventing a singular power of the supra nature (the
> technique) to credit an equal model of Justice and of Peace 
> thanks abundance. Same way the synthesis of the dialectical 
> disposition between Utopia and Progress is given by the text 
> the title of which is Apocalypse.
> Instead of according a moral disposition of the end from this 
> text, it is possible to understand in it a  predictable 
> metaphor of the philosophical modern concept of "Radical 
> evil" (that ideas overpass their ethic structural pertinence 
> when they reach the extreme point where they cannot be more 
> developed by the mind itself) ; this can show a convergent 
> atheist point where the realization of utopia cannot be 
> realized on earth BUT its contrary. This being availably 
> pertinent as now we know precisely of entropy. 
> ( Entropy can be a key in matter of interference in cognitive 
> structures of common process between both material and 
> virtual process of executive decisions subjected to random 
> strategies - the same in the living process as other human 
> organizations based on a concept of technical progress -even 
> expert administrative- ).
> Anyway Technique and Sciences as they are both the methods 
> and the fields, and the matter and the thought of development 
> to the expanding and economical production, ask a progress 
> from themselves dialectically linked to the social progress 
> out of themselves -both too in this concept of
> modernity.- 
> In this strategy stays the modern Avant Gardes in every field 
> but more in Art and Culture to the promotional ideas front of 
> the creative happy few or to the large people (it depends of 
> the choices of the Avant gardes) ; their way is to know of 
> the new and of the past such as to decide or to show of 
> opening renewal next time front of the advanced creative or 
> front of the people...  by the way of creative demonstrations 
> and expressive works. This way can be free as post-romantics 
> of Art to Art wishing to be themselve apart of the society as 
> "parias"- Fluxus was on this way apart not as parias but as 
> pioneer of experimental directions.
> It can be more not from a choice but from an obligation of 
> contracts depending of the power of the Party to communicate 
> its political or economical line, that can be good for the 
> communist society but never
> free;-) The new vocation of cultural and art of avant gardes 
> in the "vectoral" society of nowadays is from a hand to be 
> bought by the lobbies of techno sciences or by the vectors to 
> active their visibility of marks and of research returning 
> money to Art. From another hand other artists advance the 
> popular projects from the decision of politics to their cities.
> In matter of politics it depends of the power ; you know of 
> constructivism, of deconstructivism, and on social realism in 
> USSR History but we never ask of the same movement of artists 
> going to fascist powers -as Futurists and any Moderns made 
> this historical choice in Italy, that could appear (but a
> fake) a pervert exception regarding degenerated Art concept 
> of the Nazis.
> Vitalism was the same move from everywhere of the West; it 
> was a concept of beauty of the sporting and healthy body in 
> the modern architecture of the cities represented by the late 
> book "Apollo in the democracy".. But Gropius was coming from 
> the beginning of the century and was called by Van de Velde 
> to order the new Bauhaus as a tribute to ethical progress of 
> Industrial production for the grateful people. Where was 
> merely any differences between all regarding the question of 
> advanced modernity or just differences of the means ? 
> The ethic question is both that one of the market and of the 
> human rights - notably of freedom - to the contemporaneous 
> artists (doubly post-modern when they still ask of modernity 
> as this implicitly asks of avant garde), and that one of the 
> progress but at first it is more of the progress to common :
> which progress can we pretend to bring for the best to public 
> human societies of nowadays? Is technical progress stays 
> linked to social progress in nowadays? From this point: who 
> could still work to techno sciences or new political concept 
> claiming it is to the best for the public, while knowing of 
> the ethical cognitive problems that the past and the new 
> History of modernity has learned to us?
> And if they are: which ones?
> I understand Thomas question if we regard the sense of 
> modernity nowadays:
> what do we ask, what do we think, in modernity, when we say 
> of contemporary acts as still possibly modern, at this point 
> of the anthropologic an ethologic human history of the 
> progress from the Judeo Christianist excess of the West in 
> matter of productive working and money from the historical 
> time of progress since Christ until Marx Lénine and Mao 
> -through Hitler ( to follow Gropius -sorry: read Speer "In 
> the heart of the 3rd Reich" on his job near the Nazi power 
> that Elias Canetti himself quote same way that Hannah Arendt 
> on Eichmann : "ordinary" and "performing" evils that would be 
> followed by other effects after their own time after the war) 
> Mussolini or
> (Eva) Peron...
> Really I apologize of my so bad anglophone language
> A.
> On 3/03/06 15:09, "Dirk Vekemans" <> probably wrote:
> > Yes and welcome to the discussion Thomas, i think your 
> remark is very 
> > essential to an understanding of the questions as they are 
> put to us, 
> > because they refer primarily to modernity as an aspiration 
> detectable 
> > within our feeling of contemporaneity, asking whether we still 
> > acknowledge  the promise of what is modern as leading to 'a common 
> > planetary horizon'. I immediately took this to refer to 
> questions of 
> > validation of Modernist art, but there is no need to do so, 
> although i 
> > think it would be hard to ignore the accomplishments of 
> Modernism and 
> > its continuing power to define the field of modernity in our vision.
> > 
> > So, without any irony,  you could also take an industrially 
> designed 
> > tea-pot from the sixties as a starting point, asking 
> yourself whether 
> > we still want to be modern like that tea-pot wanted to 
> appeal to the 
> > aspirations of modernity present in the individuals taken 
> 'en masse' 
> > by the marketing machine of that time. And, certainly in graphic 
> > design, you must be engaged in a constant re-defining of 
> your personal 
> > style, taking different positions with regard to 
> whether/how you want 
> > your design to express a feeling of the contemporary, whether what 
> > makes your design look up-to-date is a 'modernist'projection or a 
> > nostalgic mirroring of a dissimulated past or a crack in 
> the surface 
> > of marketability or a replacement of all the 'or's'here 
> with an 'and'.
> > As such any question of modernity may be more of a design question, 
> > with or without taking up the threads of the problematic 
> status of the 
> > design/art terms. The question reformulated to you as a 
> designer would 
> > then perhaps refer (again back to what wasn't immediately 
> included) to 
> > the corpus of modernist design as an 'antique' authority to 
> be matched 
> > or emulated in your present work. Thus, do you think of 
> what you see 
> > from modernist design in that way?
> > 
> > Back in the art reservoir, i very much agree with Lucio's claim 
> > (strengthened by Christiane's doubt that present works can 
> be analysed 
> > in the suggested terms) that we are more interested in the 
> methods of 
> > the Moderns, recycling those as creative processes instead of 
> > attempting to dig up and take up the thread of their 
> motivations where 
> > post-modernism has buried them, or trying to emulate their 
> works like 
> > a capitalised Modernity/ Antiquity parallel would suggest.
> > 
> > There wasn't any capitalisation in the original question 
> though, more 
> > a redoubling of the abstraction suggesting that we are riding the 
> > hypermodern drive, referring to our modern aspirations as 
> an antique 
> > body-of-movements that we, hyping the hyperthing, attempt 
> to surpass. 
> > I tend to agree with Christiane here that such an 
> incremental flight, 
> > a continuation of levelling out to the limits of 
> abstraction is hardly 
> > the umbrella used by most contemporary artist. As such that 
> remains to 
> > be discussed, along with other lines initiated here.
> > dv
> >  
> >  
> > 
> >> -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
> >> Van:
> >> [] Namens Christina 
> >> McPhee
> >> Verzonden: vrijdag 3 maart 2006 3:47
> >> Aan: soft_skinned_space
> >> Onderwerp: Re: [-empyre-] Is Modernity our Antiquity? -a brief 
> >> historicaldivertissement
> >> 
> >> Actually, the remark Thomas is responding to, is from 
> Lucio Agra -  I 
> >> just forwarded it.
> >> 
> >> But this is interesting.  Modernity... isn't this an idea that goes
> >> back to the 'battle of the Ancients and the Moderns'   -- that
> >> politically charged theme of Absolutist France, to the 
> beginning of 
> >> Romanticism?  The moderns were the Romantics:
> >> Gericault, The Raft of the Medusa. Or could someone 
> (Thomas?) correct 
> >> me?
> >> 
> >> And even further, we may imagine that modernity as a style of 
> >> consciousness begins with the very Italian sense of time to which 
> >> Thomas here alludes:  a sense of time as a series of 
> feedback loops 
> >> so that, for example, you, the artist in the Renaissance,  could 
> >> 'recapture' the greatness of the imagined "Ancients" and 
> here I mean 
> >> the dreamed of paintings of Praxiteles, the extant 
> sculptures in the 
> >> rubble of the Roman
> >> Forum: you could revive these formal gestures as a pure 
> referent to 
> >> the world of Antiquity, thought of as a pluralist, pagan, non 
> >> heterogenous mash. Ironically you could revive them to 
> glorify your 
> >> patrons (Pope Clement, the Medicis, the Sforzas) within a 
> >> superficially Christian visual dramatic narrative; ah, but 
> all this 
> >> becomes very convoluted with the coming of the 
> Counterreformation in 
> >> Italian painting so I should leave off here. Just 
> thinking:  that we 
> >> plunder "Modernity" as it were, as if, we were still among 
> the greats 
> >> of that distant past (Schwitters, Klee).--
> >> 
> >> also re English, by the way:  please feel free if you wish 
> to post in 
> >> French or other mainstream languages,  as -empyre- is very 
> broad in 
> >> elocution :-)
> >> 
> >> cm
> >> 
> >> 
> >> On Mar 2, 2006, at 5:37 PM, Thomas Schmidt wrote:
> >> 
> >>> Hello List,
> >>> 
> >>> This is my first post on the list, so i'll start by introducing 
> >>> myself. My name is Thomas and I'm a graphic-designer based
> >> in Paris,
> >>> so, please excuse my English.
> >>> 
> >>> Le 2/03/06 5:40, « Christina McPhee »
> >> <> a
> >>> écrit :
> >>> 
> >>>> I've been sustaining - as a rather
> >>>> personal point o view - that what separates modernity to 
> >>>> contemporaneity has to do with a kind of gap, established
> >> 'round the
> >>>> 80's when something great was expected but never happened
> >>> 
> >>> Doesn't it seem that the relationship we have to those words, 
> >>> modernity and contemporaneity, is of a completely 
> different nature?
> >>> 
> >>> Modernity, as an art period (whether or not it has come 
> to an end, 
> >>> which is beyond my reasoning) can be thought of as bounded to the 
> >>> external socio-technological factors of its time, such as 
> the great 
> >>> technological discoveries of the late 19th century, marxism etc., 
> >>> whereas contemporaneity can only be related to our own
> >> self, in that
> >>> contemporaneity, for a lack of proper wording "travels" with us.
> >>> 
> >>> Best,
> >>> 
> >>> Thomas.
> >>> -
> >>>
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> 
> >>> _______________________________________________
> >>> empyre forum
> >>>
> >>>
> >> 
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> empyre forum
> >>
> >>
> >> 
> > 
> > 
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> >
> >
> > 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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