[-empyre-] What?

Julian Oliver julian at selectparks.net
Tue May 20 00:29:48 EST 2008

..on or around Sun, May 18, 2008 at 09:49:40PM -0700 h w wrote: 
> Carla quoted Jacoby:
> ---------------------------------------------
> Art² has no importance; it is
> life that counts. Art is the history of the years to come. It is the
> creation of the most gigantic collective work in history: the conquest
>  of the earth, the conquest of freedom by and for all men.
> 1963 Mensaje en el Di Tella, Roberto Jacoby
> ---------------------------------------------
> Conquest of the Earth, eh? Like any conquest, it shows a complete and
> dismissive disregard for the conquered. And in the Great War between
> "Man" and "Nature" I can assure you all that "Nature" cares even less
> about "Man" than "Man" does of "Nature", and in the great struggle
> between "Man" and "Nature":

hehe, and so does Absurdity. you can't argue with the absurd and so such
absurdities like those by Jacoby above are outside the realm of rational
critique. absurdity is one of the most profound weapons of the right
wing for this reason: when Bush says God spoke to him, what are we to
say? "No he didn't George. You're being ridiculous.."?

that's not to say, of course, that this Jacoby quote isn't offensive
(although i find it to be more silly than upsetting in any way). however,
even by being offensive (or silly), it serves well as example of how
strategic rhetoricists like to contruct their quotes. i think of it as
being akin to engineering, of the extreme bridge-building kind.

first you start with a general, uncomfortable and negating claim
("art has no importance") then proceed to an affirmation of something
more dear, more primary ("it is life that counts") relieving that
previous discomfort. at this stage you've earned the trust of the
unastute reader and introduced an all-encompassing value system in which
their beliefs are inevitably implicated. next - in an effort to exploit
this trust - invoke images of humankind in some universal struggle
within this value system, one upon which rests the liberty and future of
humankind itself. you'll have many nodding and saying an affirming "Yes"
to themselves in no time, especially if spoken to a crowd. 

i'm sure a great many people feel empowered reading Jacoby's quote
without having any idea as to its inherent silliness, let alone its
broader, more fateful, implications. instead, they will think him a
generous, humane man of wide scope and bold, searing insight.

put simply, the objective of such text is not to distribute good ideas
so much as exploit people's desire to feel strong and resolute such that
they feel this way when you speak to them; an impoverished influence..

.. yet influence nonetheless. here i am writing about Jacoby - he's
pretty good this guy ;)


julian oliver
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