[-empyre-] complicit post

Johanna Drucker drucker at gseis.ucla.edu
Mon Jan 4 01:21:46 EST 2010

Nice post, Sean. I agree, it's the pessimism that we have to get over  
-- we can't afford it, personally or culturally. What I want to  
salvage from Adorno is his insight into the workings of aesthetic  
objects--the qualities that make them distinct from other objects-- 
which of course is not merely formal/conceptual, but situational/ 
historical. Do you think we can also move beyond the dialectic? I  
think notions of co-dependence and autopoieis are less mechanistic,  
more systemic, less about resolution, more about sustained  
negotiations and complexity that can't resolve. Anyway, just wanted to  
note my appreciation of what's below.


On Jan 2, 2010, at 5:01 PM, Sean Cubitt wrote:

> My favourite among the bizarre marriages is the defusing and  
> capitalisation
> of the situationists over recent years.
> There is a letter from Adorno to Benjamin which sets up the problem  
> neatly:
> he refers to high and low culture as 'the two torn halves of an  
> integral
> freedom to which, however, they do not add up'(this is such an  
> important
> quote for me,  I looked up the date of it -- 18 March 1936 - it's in  
> the
> correspondence, and in the old NLB collection Aesthetics and Politics)
> I'm reading up on Lavater; in a collection of essays the editor, who  
> takes
> the physiognomist to task for populism *and* a claim to high aesthetic
> values, asks whether it is not an absolute contradiction to be in  
> favour of
> popularising the nobility of aesthetics. I think I have to answer,  
> yes, in
> the dialectical sense. The contradiction - between cheap commercial  
> culture
> and (pick your favourite exemplars: mine would almost all be media  
> artists)
> the best in art - is what drives forward the idea of democratising  
> the best,
> not just the good-enough.
> I have been trying to climb out form under the long shadow of Adorno  
> for a
> decade now. Johanna is right: the formula is a problem, Even more so  
> is the
> historical oddity, that TWA wrote from his experience of gazing into  
> the maw
> of the end of european enlightenment in the horror of fascism. His  
> pessimism
> is what has become academic, and sentimental, in the sense that  
> 'we're all
> doomed' is a position occupied without taking responsibility for the
> consequences - an excuse for quiescence
> If I follow right, the argument is that we are all complicit, and  
> have to
> get used to the idea that we have to work within the beast. There  
> are other
> ways than negativity (in Adorno's sense of refusal): open source,
> peer-to-peer, gift economies and the line stretching back to at  
> least the
> counterculture of the 60s of building alternatives, for example.  
> Today the
> market seems like the almighty engine of history, as perhaps a  
> hundred years
> ago (almost to the day) nations seemed the only source of pride and  
> power.
> Going into the teens, networks are just beginning to look like they  
> might be
> the alternative (and just as Marx emerged in the period of nation- 
> state
> hegemony to critique the market, so the first critics of the  
> networks are
> beginning to appear).
> Avant-gardes were always based on the principle that whatever they  
> invented
> would be commercialised in time - often very swiftly nowadays. No  
> technique
> is intrinsically safe from the process. Perpetual innovation is  
> art's job,
> an innovation which constantly fuels capital, which is now so  
> regimented it
> is incapale of generating its own novelty. But that is another
> contradiction, and if there is one thing worth keeping from Teddy
> Wiesengrund it is the dialectic!
> So happy new decade to one and all - a year isn't long enough!
> sean
> On 3/01/10 4:48 AM, "G.H. Hovagimyan" <ghh at thing.net> wrote:
>> gh comments below:
>> On Jan 2, 2010, at 9:59 AM, Johanna Drucker wrote:
>>> But the legacy of Adorno’s aesthetics is problematic for us because
>>> it has become academic, and because it is premised on a description
>>> of the world and of art that have become formulaic.
>> gh comments:
> It occurs to
>> me how bizarre a marriage the art world is taking academic theory and
>> philosophy and melding it with the aesthetics of marketing and  
>> desire.
>> G.H. Hovagimyan
>> http://nujus.net/~gh
>> http://artistsmeeting.org
>> http://turbulence.org/Works/plazaville
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Prof Sean Cubitt
> scubitt at unimelb.edu.au
> Director
> Media and Communications Program
> Faculty of Arts
> Room 127 John Medley East
> The University of Melbourne
> Parkville VIC 3010
> Australia
> Tel: + 61 3 8344 3667
> Fax:+ 61 3 8344 5494
> M: 0448 304 004
> Skype: seancubitt
> http://www.culture-communication.unimelb.edu.au/media-communications/
> http://www.digital-light.net.au/
> http://homepage.mac.com/waikatoscreen/
> http://seancubitt.blogspot.com/
> http://del.icio.us/seancubitt
> Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series
> http://leonardo.info
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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